SimCity 4, the greatest city building game of all time, was released 20 years ago.

SimCity 4, the greatest city building game of all time, was released 20 years ago.
Written by admin

When it was released on January 14, 2003, SimCity 4 had problems. Massive cities, for one, could even run decent computers, and the traffic simulation looked completely broken.

Twenty years later – thanks to faster PCs, the Peak Hour expansion, and a large modding community – SimCity 4 is the best of all SimCity games. It’s also the best city builder game if what you care about is simulation, scale, diversity and the beauty of urban sprawl.

Setting aside the fantasy and medieval variants, the template laid out by the SimCity series remains the expectation of most city builders. As the mayor of a novice town, you divide commercial, residential and industrial areas into zones, install amenities and services to delight residents, and try to balance the budget as your town begins to take on a life of its own. Then, when you build a sprawling metropolis and get tired, you trigger some natural (or unnatural) disaster and start over.

SimCity 4 did nothing to change this formula, but continued its logical progress. It features 3D terrain and vibrant, crisp sprite-art buildings, which is one of the reasons it still looks great today. It allows you to build massive cities and then trade resources with neighboring cities you’ve built before. It has a day/night cycle so you can see your skyscrapers glowing in the dark. You can bring individual Sims into your city – The Sims 1, released in 2000 – and then follow their lives as they go from your dirty suburbs to their gruesome job, then move out of town or die.

Perhaps most importantly, SimCity 4 included BAT, the Building Architect Tool, which allows modders to create their own buildings and place them in the game. Custom buildings, maps, and mods have greatly extended SimCity 4’s lifespan, and there are over 21,000 files at the time of writing. available from community site Simtropolisincluding a few new installs made in the last 24 hours.

Mods are why I call SimCity 4 the greatest city builder of all time. More specifically, thanks to the Network Add-on Mode. NAM set out to solve the traffic problems of SimCity 4 in 2004 and since its last update in September 2022, it has expanded to include new UI tools, road types, light rail. and more. NAM is essential, given that every modern city builder is inevitably reduced to tampering with road networks and easing traffic congestion.

As for the skyscraper in the room: I love Cities: Skylines, and if you’re new to the genre, Paradox’s SimCity milkshake-drinker is the place to start. If you’ve been playing Cities: Skylines and are sick of it or don’t want to cough up for the next piece of DLC, then you should switch to SimCity 4. SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition (including the Rush Hour expansion, also released in 2003) on Steam and GOG. Given that 2013’s SimCity was a bombshell and Maxis’ original studio in Emeryville closed in 2015, we may never see another like it.

About the author


Leave a Comment