It’s time to be mayor again. Maxis is returning to the franchise that made it famous, with a brand new SimCity, coming in 2013.
With SimCity 4 releasing in 2003, it will have been ten long years since Maxis last touched the series by the time the new game arrives. But there’s no 5 on the tail end of this new entry; the title, strangely mirroring the very first game, is simply SimCity. That’s because the team at Maxis considers this not a sequel, but a reboot.
It was one of the biggest announcements to come out of the Game Developers Conference this week, and from the looks of things, fans will feel right at home with this new SimCity, while enjoying new experiences brought on by greater sophistication and a whole new set of challenges inspired by modern times. What’s more, modern technology will give players the chance to interact with their cities on a level never before possible. You’ll be able to customize every aspect of your city, right down to the designs and colors of individual buildings.
The kind of city you build will determine the kinds of Sims you attract to come live there. For example, you can build an industrial city, which will attract blue-collar Sims. Or you could construct a culture and education-themed city, which will attract highly intelligent, educated Sims. Or maybe you’d like to invest in a casino resort? Your city will soon become a major tourist attraction. These elements will affect the look, feel, and function of your entire city.
SimCity is being built on Maxis’ new, proprietary “GlassBox” engine, which Maxis says is so powerful, it gives every individual Sim in your city his or her own purpose, occupation, home, and more. But it’s also robust enough to let you step back from the action and play the god-like role of city planner.
Also, for the first time ever, SimCity is going multiplayer. The idea is a provocative one: in multiplayer, players construct their own cities, which are then housed in the cloud next door to other cities in the same “region.” Each choice a player makes regarding their town, will ripple out and have consequences upon the entire region — possibly even the whole game “world.” So it’s up to individual players to decide if they want to work together to build a better community, or if they want to compete with one another for desired resources. (And yes, the social commentary is entirely deliberate.)
One thing you won’t be able to do is import your characters from The Sims series. Maxis says that they made the conscious decision to focus solely “on the soul of the city and let players control the greater landscape than the individual Sim.”
SimCity so far is only being developed for the PC (though if it’s as popular as its predecessors, EA would be crazy not to port it to other platforms), and was announced with the pre-rendered CGI trailer above that shows no game footage but is meant to convey the kinds of experiences players will have. Maxis has erected a new website at simcity.com that’s feature-rich with behind-the-scenes looks at the making of the game.