Maxis first announced that it was working on SimCity 4 on April 29, 2002, showed it off at E3 on May 22, 2002 and should be releasing it by Christmas 2002. They hope that it will be as groundbreaking as the original SimCity was back in 1989 (was it really that long ago?), and it probably will, considering that's it going to have a metric assload of cool new features. I can't wait.

Update: The release date now appears to have been pushed back to January 2003. D'oh!
Update: But you can now preorder it!
Update: It now appears to have been released in the US on January 14, 2003! I can't wait 'til it crosses the Atlantic.
Update: But I'm now using Linux and not Windows and so am unable to play it. D'oh!

Interconnected cities

The two previous incarnations of SimCity would allow you to have only a small amount of interaction with the surrounding cities - 2K would marginally improve your industry if you connected by road, rail or sea to other cities and 3K did the same whilst allowing you to buy or sell resources or waste. In SC4, you will be able to make a series of interconnected cities, and your cities will be able to "compete" with neighbouring cities. In the past, the "other cities" seemed like a quickly tacked-on part of the game. Not any more. Cities will be able to interact in the same way Sims from different houses could in The Sims.


The previous SimCities concentrated more on the global effects of the things you did. It was not possible to have education standards and health standards that varied between the different parts of your cities. Either your schools were universally brilliant and well-funded throughout your entire metropolis, or all the kids were growing up dumb. Even though pollution changed from locality to locality, it didn't actually have local effects on health and life expectancy; the game would merely average out the pollution and use that to figure out a city-wide figure for health.

In the past, this was necessary due to the lack of processor power in computers; back when SC3K was introduced in 97/98, the average computer processor's clock speed was on the order of perhaps 233MHz. Now you can buy a computer for the same price which is half a dozen times more powerful.

Since this is the case, SC4 now simulates local effects more than global effects. This means that putting a school down will result in a strong increase in EQ in the surrounding area, instead of a slight increase throughout the whole city.


SC4 is to have graphics similar to those which were going to be in Simsville and slightly similar to SC3K. They are going to be in proper 3D instead of isometric 2D for the first time. Though this was supposed to be the case for SC3K, people's computers back then sucked too much to handle it, kind of like if you tried to run Max Payne on a P166.

Tlogmer says re SimCity 4: Nice node. I heard that simcity 4 will still be isometric, though, just with the buildings modeled in full 3d beforehand, having all 4 sides.

Feedback & Detail

SC2K had very little proper feedback. There were the six newspapers, but that was about it.
SC3K was a little better. Instead of newspapers, petitioners and the like would come to visit you. However, the actual number of petitioners was low, so you wound up getting the same "There aren't enough hospitals" petition coming up every five minutes.

Now, feedback is going to be a lot better. The main improvement is that you can create a customised Sim and follow them around, watching how they cope with life in your city. Is it easy for them, or difficult?

Seemingly unrelated systems will also give feedback to you as well. For example, when a fire breaks out, you will see fire engines racing to the scene of a conflagration. If your roads are shittily designed and the engines can't get there, then the fire will actually rage out of control. This is very different to previous versions, where the quality of your transport had absolutely no effect on the quality of disaster control. Buildings will give more feedback, too. When you put down a building, it won't go down instantly with a "thunk", but you'll see the little framework being made, and then the walls being added, until the construction is complete. Once complete, the building will have indicators to show how it and the things around it are doing.

Feedback will also be a lot more instantaneous. In SC3K, changing the buildings in an area would have very little effect until the game's random walk parser actually reached that particular area and made the changes. In SC4, feedback will happen almost immediately after you change something, rather than being done sometime in the future and at random.


Disasters are a staple of a good SimCity game. We all know that. And thankfully, they're still here, and improved. You will be able to exert a small bit more control over where moving disasters go, such as tornadoes. Volcanoes will be making an appearance, and there may be some new disasters, too. And on the subject of volcanoes, you will actually be able to see lava flowing down the sides and burn the city, as opposed to little bits of fire which randomly appear.

Weather & Times of day

"Cities will have a pulse, like they do in real life." That's true. Each version of SimCity has made big improvements in traffic simulation over the previous one. Classic would put traffic on just about any road at random. SC2K had rudimentary trip simulation. SC3K made the trip simulation model more sophisticated. SC4K will make it very sophisticated. And how? By making it sensitive to weather and the time of day. Roads connecting residential and industrial areas will become busier in early morning and early evening. Roads connecting residential and commercial areas will become busier in afternoons.

There is weather, too, though. Weather will be affected by terrain and time of day. For example, coastal cities will have fog in the morning. Mountainous areas will be more cloudy than usual. Other factors will affect the microclimate of places.

Terrain & Terrain editing

I already mentioned that terrain will have an effect on weather, but it will also have an effect on property values, too. Even better is that you will be able to edit the terrain of your land before you start playing; for some inexplicable reason this was taken out of SC3K. You'll be able to terraform it like a thick sheet of rubber - extend it, smooth it, make it pointy, erode it, and so on and so forth.

Buildings will also be more able to adapt to wobbly terrain, which is a big improvement. In previous versions, wobbly terrain was the bane of a utopian mayor's existence. Not any more. You can now construct small and medium-sized buildings on slanted ground, and will be able to see the foundations which keep them from sliding around.

Servo5678 says re SimCity 4: FYI SimCity 3000 Unlimited did include terrain editing.

Property values

This part has been concentrated on more heavily to make it more realistic. In the three previous SimCities, it was easy to change property values. To make it go up, one could add parks, water and put down police stations. To make it go down, you'd take away the schools, police stations, bulldoze the forests, and then set it on fire.

Now property values can't be quite as easily manipulated. Rather than determining the quality of an area, property and land values will be determined BY the quality of an area. As such, it is possible to gentrify an area. Simply add lots of nice facilities, and rich people will move in. Up go property values. Also added in this respect are several different images for each building - low land values will result in buildings that look run down, and high values will result in buildings that look nice.

General feedback

machfive says re SimCity 4: Fantastic node. So when the game is released, do you think you'll have any time left over to do a review of the game, too? ;-)

Mark Forest says re SimCity 4: Rock!

Berek says re SimCity 4: ++

The contents of this writeup are in the public domain.