As a mea culpa for SimCity's disastrous debut, Electronic Arts offered a number of free titles as compensation. Reading other SimCity reviews, I caught on to a kind of collective fondness for the last game in the series, SimCity 4, which debuted ten years ago. Of course, that reminded me that it had been about that long since I'd purchased the game with its bundled Rush Hour expansion, played it for a handful of hours, and then stuffed it back into its double-wide box, never to play it again. I felt that maybe I had short-changed the game all those years ago, a strange thing since I loved 2000 and enjoyed 3000 nearly as much, but for the price of free, I was curious whether my opinion would change after so long, after I'd experienced so much.
God, Mayor and Beyond
Boom! The first thing SimCity 4 slams in your face is its loud-and-proud "Challenge Everything!" stamp that adorned all of the game's contemporaries at EA, a fine relic of the Probst era. Once the formalities are over, you're introduced to the region view. It's like what you'd see in the new SimCity, but these lots are of varying size and all snuggled up next to each other in a sensical manner. Picking a lot, many of which are about four times are larger than the ones in the new game, you're offered to sculpt the landscape with the game's much-advertised God mode. Many people have complained about the feature's absence in SimCity, but modifying terrain was something I got over in 2000 (which isn't to say I wouldn't have enjoyed some hill grading in the new game). The first thing you may notice, or at least I did, is how old the game feels. Despite the landscape being rendered in 3D, zoom is constrained to a few drastic notches, making any use of the scroll wheel a jarring experience.