SimCity 4: Rush Hour
Some time ago, I installed Sim City 4 which was the latest version of Maxis’ city simulator and after having skipped a few versions I was really anxious to playing it (you can read the full review here).
With today’s problems in traffic, EA and Maxis must have thought the traffic wasn’t giving enough problems in SimCity 4 so they now released the “Rush Hour” expansion pack with a bigger focus on means of transportation to make sure you get some extra hours of playing SimCity 4 if you would already be tired of importing your Sims into the game.
Transportation is what it’s all about in Rush Hour. Graphically the game hasn’t changed a bit and neither has the sound but what you get when paying for this expansion is a load of extra’s that can be used and to be honest: some of them are really good additions.
For starters, the road to be paved have expanded. Next to normal roads and highways you can now also use lanes where more traffic can be guided through but the problem starts pretty soon if you start making nothing but highways, lanes and paved roads, your counselor will be banging on your door that there aren’t enough small pathways anymore and that people are getting sick of the high amount of traffic and the lack of dirt (???)
In fact, what I just said above is a perfect example of what to expect of Rush Hour. You get lots of extra possibilities, but using to resolve certain problems will only cause other problems, bringing you in a circle without end.
Don’t get me wrong, Rush Hour has a whole bunch of extra options available for your use and it’s fun to play with once you get a town big enough to be able to use the more pleasant stuff, but that’s where the main problem lays: it’s a pain to get your town to grow and keep your money in balance.
I started off with 500.000 simeonians (or something like that) and had made up a perfect plan in my head on how I could make sure civilians wouldn’t be too much bothered with industry while commercial buildings would be nicely put together so that they would form a living and breathing center of commerce.
To make sure my city would be very attractive, one of the first things I did was lower taxes to an absolute minimum, making the rich pay almost nothing and the poor a little bit more (yep, I’m a bastard, I know) so that the appeal of the city would grow even more.
Before long I had a very vivant city with lots of stuff going on while the streets were ordened, didn’t have too many traffic jams and everything seemed to run just fine.
Only problem: I was highly in debt and was about to be kicked out of the mayor’s house by an angry mob who didn’t like my spending spree ! It was like The Governator had come to life in SimCity 4 and was going to come after me !
Ok, back to the drawing board. Small town, little expenses, only giving the Sims what they ask for an nothing more. This worked a bit better, but the expansion rate of my city was extremely limited and it would take ages before my town would have grown big enough to be able to profit from the bigger new possibilities and rewards that are included in Rush Hour.
Playing for hours without being able to have fun with the extra’s in the expansion you just bought isn’t any fun at all so Maxis have come up with quite an ingenious plan to make sure you keep coming for more. They’ve created the possibility to go around in your city yourself.
Yes that’s right, you can drive around town with a car, helicopter, or whatever type of transportation you have (even with a tank if you’ve got a business contract that places a military base in your city).
Is this enough to keep you occupied ? Well, it’s fun for a little while, but after bashing town for a couple of times without your actions having any effect on the global scale, it gets boring.
So, in short, what do we get when buying SimCity 4 Rush Hour ? Pretty simple: new buildings, roads, transportation means, rewards and business contracts plus of course the aforementioned ability to drive around town yourself.
What I personally would have expected (or have wanted) was the ability to pose new laws, set up traffic lights, ask for traffic taxes, possibility to earn money with fines for wrong parking or speeding, ability to raise or lower prices of public transport, … the general stuff that goes along with running a town. Unfortunately, such things are still not available.
In conclusion I would say that Sim City 4 Rush Hour doesn’t change anything from the original game except for the driving ability (top-down view) but that doesn’t justify a price tag of €25. I would have preferred Maxis/EA to release Rush Hour without the driving and put it online as a free download. I’m sure people would have appreciated that more than now having to pay for a feature that hardly adds to the overall game while the rest of the new stuff would be great additions if they were free but aren’t worth paying for.