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Software review

By WES PLATT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 17, 2003

SimCity 4

  • Platform: Windows
  • Company: Maxis/Electronic Arts
  • Price: $49.99

SimCity 4 looks great . . . if you can run it.

SimCity 4 has some neat new features . . . if you can run it.

SimCity 4 plays well . . . if you can run it.

The problem is, unless you've got a state-of-the-art PC system with the latest video cards and high-speed processors, you probably can't run it.

That's a shame, because it really is a great incarnation of the great-granddaddy of computer simulation games.

The graphics have come a long way from the early SimCity days, when players had a top-down view of residential, commercial and industrial blocks as they developed.

The interface has been retooled to look and feel more like what users of the Sims have become accustomed to, which makes sense, considering that players can now import their Sims characters to dwell in their virtual metropolises.

It's also possible to shape your terrain to fit your grand vision of a fledgling city empire before you start the mundane tasks of tax collection and budget management, instead of taking what you can get and spending precious tax dollars on shaping the landscape.

You can build multiple cities on an expansive map, then link them together. For example, you could develop your own metropolitan Tampa, then add suburban areas such as Brandon, New Tampa, Carrollwood and Land O'Lakes, and watch how that affects the urban center.

And you can take your cities online via the Internet and go head-to-head against other virtual urban planners.

If, of course, you can run it.

It's too bad, and woefully ironic, that SimCity 4 causes such headaches for less-than-top-of-the-line computers: For a game that preaches the value of conservative use of resources and living within one's means, SimCity 4 sure hogs a lot more than it should.

-- WES PLATT, Times staff writer

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