SimCity 4, the greatest city builder of all time, was released 20 years ago

When it was released on January 14th 2003, SimCity 4 had its issues. Its enormous cities would chug on even respectable PCs, for one, and its visitors simulation appeared outright damaged.

Twenty years later – because of quicker PCs, the Rush Hour enlargement, and an enormous modding group – SimCity 4 is the finest of all SimCity video games. If what you care about is simulation, scale, selection, and the magnificence of city sprawl, it is also the finest city builder.


Setting apart fantasy and medieval variants, the template laid down by the SimCity sequence stays the expectation for many city builders. As the mayor of a fledgling city, you zone business, residential and industrial districts, place down facilities and providers to fulfill residents, and try and stability the price range as your city begins to tackle a life of its personal. Then, whenever you’ve constructed a sprawling metropolis and have grown weary, you set off some pure (or unnatural) disasters and begin over.

SimCity 4 did nothing to alter this system however continued its logical development. It has 3D terrain and crisp, clear sprite-art buildings, that are one of the causes it nonetheless seems nice in the present day. It allows you to construct huge cities, after which commerce assets with the neighboring cities you constructed beforehand. It has a day/night time cycle, so you may see your skyscrapers twinkling in the darkish. You can plop particular person Sims into your city – The Sims 1 released in 2000 – after which observe their lives as they commute out of your polluted suburbs to their terrible job, then transfer out of city or die.

(*20*) most significantly, SimCity 4 included the BAT, the Building Architect Tool, which enabled modders to create their very own buildings and place them in the sport. Custom buildings, maps and mods have tremendously prolonged the life of SimCity 4 and at the time of writing there are over 21,000 information out there from the group website Simtropolis, together with a number of new uploads in the previous 24 hours.

Mods are why I’m assured calling SimCity 4 the finest city builder of all time. More particularly, it is because of the Network Addon Mod. NAM set out in 2004 to repair SimCity 4’s visitors points, and as of its final replace in September 2022 has expanded to incorporate new UI instruments, highway varieties, gentle rail and way more. Given that each modern-day city builder inevitably boils right down to tinkering with highway networks and mitigating visitors jams, NAM is crucial.

To deal with the skyscraper in the room: I like Cities: Skylines and if you happen to’re new to this style, Paradox’s SimCity milkshake-drinker is the place it’s best to begin. If you’ve gotten been taking part in Cities: Skylines and also you’re drained of it, nonetheless, or if you happen to do not need to cough up for the subsequent piece of DLC, then it’s best to graduate to SimCity 4. The SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition (together with the Rush Hour enlargement, additionally released in 2003) is on Steam and GOG. Given that 2013’s SimCity was a bomb, and Maxis’s authentic studio in Emeryville closed in 2015, we could by no means see its like once more.

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