SimCity Creator for the Nintendo Wii is the newest iteration of the wildly popular SimCity games. For those who have been living under a rock for the last 15 or so years, the SimCity games let you build the metropolis of your dreams. Start by building roads, sewer systems, buildings and everything else a city needs to operate, and then watch it all come together as your population grows and you get feedback on how well your city is built. Do well by keeping your population happy, and watch your money grow; but do badly, and watch as they revolt against you. SimCity Creator does all these things well, but control issues and appearances by MySims characters make the overall presentation just a little above average.
The controls in SimCity Creator try to fit the complexity of the SimCity games into your hand by using the Wiimote to build and using the D-pad to move through the menus. One of the main problems with the previous SimCity games was the inability to build free form roads. While I am all for my cities laid out in grids, making perfect little squares across the landscape, I wished to be able to just add a little curve here and there. With SimCity Creator, you lay out your roads, as well as zoning your city, building structures, etc, with the Wiimote, giving you the perfect opportunity to build curvy roads to your heart’s content. Unfortunately, the Wiimote isn’t quite up to the task. The creators, in a move I still don’t understand, made it so that as you move closer to the edge of the screen, building something or not, the screen starts to scroll. This can be frustrating at times, as you try to build something, only to have the screen scroll, causing the map to move in, more often than not, the wrong direction, causing your building to go awry. This doesn’t sound like much of a complaint, but for those who have played previous SimCity games, this causes a lot of frustration as you constantly have to undo your build because of it. On top of all that, if you lower your arm to give it a rest, the map jumps into whatever direction you put your arm. I searched in the menus, read through the manual, but was unable to find a way to turn this off. You start to get the hang of the controls after a couple of hours, but the frustration that comes before that is enough to turn everyone but the most hardcore off.
Once you are done battling the controls, there is a surprisingly deep game to be had here. Just about everything from the previous SimCity games are present and accounted for. There are some good tutorials for those who have never played a SimCity game before, as well as model cities to give you an idea of what to shoot for. New to the SimCity series is something called “Hero Buildings”. These special buildings, once placed in your city, cause the surrounding building to take on the same type of architecture as the hero building. These really add nothing to the gameplay, but giving the player the option of having certain parts of their cities look different than the rest is a nice addition.
As if building the city of your dreams isn’t enough, one of the best parts of the game is destroying the city you just spent hours building. All the old ways of city destruction from the previous SimCity games are here, such as tornadoes and Godzilla like monsters, but there are some new additions as well. A Katamari like mini game has you rolling around a ball that drops from space, destroying everything in its path. These new destruction tools are controlled by the player and are a nice addition.
On the graphics side, SimCity Creator is a respectable Wii game. Don’t expect to be blown away by the graphics, but they are more than adequate and they definitely get the job done. The ability to zoom in to your city, seeing each building separately is WAY more fun than it should be. Another addition to SimCity Creator is the ability to jump into flying vehicles, like a helicopter, and fly around your city. I have to say, it’s really cool to be able to fly around my skyscrapers, looping around tall buildings and flying low over the streets. Added to this interesting distraction are little mini games that have you flying a dying person to the hospital or saving a child. All this adds to the feeling that this is YOUR city and you are a part of it.
SimCity Creator has two gameplay modes, free play and challenge mode. Free play lets you just build your city as you see fit. Challenge mode gives you objectives that must be completed, such as decreasing traffic in a certain area of town. These challenges range from very easy to very frustrating. There are also 30 or so online challenges with leaderboards that are updated daily. Unfortunately you can’t see what challenges your friends have played before you do it. These challenges add to the game, and give you something to do if you ever grow tired of just building your city.
As in previous SimCity games, you had advisors who you could consult for information on your city and ways to improve it. Unfortunately for SimCity Creator, these wise advisors have been replaced by MySims and are more of a nuisance than anything. They rarely have anything worthwhile to say, and the loading times in order to talk to them is ridiculous. I found myself avoiding them as much as possible.
SimCity Creator is a decent entry into the SimCity franchise and some surprisingly fun additions add a lot to the series. Unfortunately, the Wiimote hinders you quite a bit in the beginning, but those with the guts to tough it out a while will find a lot of satisfying gameplay here. The graphics aren’t the best you will see, but you don’t play a game such as this for the graphics. Overall, SimCity Creator is a good game that, with a little extra polishing in the control department, could have been a must play for Wii owners. As it stands, only hardcore fans of the series should blind buy this, all others should definitely give this a rent first.
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