By WES PLATT
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 1999
The classic urban-planning simulator gets remodeled in SimCity 3000, which keeps the best features of its two predecessors and improves on them all.
The basic concept hasn't changed. Take a large tract of land. Plop down residential, commercial and industrial zones. Provide schools and law enforcement. Build roads. Manage funds. Raise taxes. Watch your city grow.
SimCity 3000 includes improved graphics, dozens of real-world landmarks that can be added to your own city (for kicks, I put Atlanta's Peachtree Center and the Washington Monument in my virtual rendition of Land O'Lakes, the town where I live), a selection of terrain for existing cities (so you could build your own Manhattan or Tokyo), and the usual selection of disasters -- ranging from earthquakes to storms to alien invasions.
What is new here?
Quite a bit, but absent what SimCity fans had been expecting in the early going of this project.
Initially, SimCity 3000 was to have provided players with a street-level view of the communities they built. That proved too troublesome for this version, which still improves on its predecessors by allowing players to zoom in on city streets to watch Sims and their vehicles plugging along.
Become a mayor in this virtual world, and you face new choices and challenges.
Do you accept cash for trash from neighboring cities? Do you sell your water supply to other cities at the expense of future growth? (No, residents of central Pasco and Hernando counties, it does not simulate dealing with neighboring areas drawing water away whether you like it or not.) Or do you take that slick, fast-talking rich fellow's offer to give you a vault-load of simoleons to build a toxic waste dump in town?
Those choices matter, and you'll hear it from residents who don't like what you do -- and watch your city decline if you can't keep them happy.
Company: Electronic Arts
Suggested Price: $44.95