Posts Tagged ‘EA’

Sim City Review: Smaller On the Inside

Posted on: April 3rd, 2013 by Michael Dao No Comments

By: Michael Dao

This review of Sim City will cover the state of the game as it is two weeks after its release when the server issues which the game became known for have been sorted out. I feel that it is important to acknowledge the issues that were present in the days following the release of the game, but it will also not be the experience that most of the people that purchase the game or are looking to purchase the game will have.

The title of the game, Sim City gives the player a good indication of what the game has in store. The game puts the player in charge of a smaller city of a region that is inhabited by other players like yourself. This is the first significant change in the game from the previous titles in the franchise. This new Sim City, is indeed a multiplayer game, although it does not have what many would consider a traditional multiplayer mode. Because players are building a city, multiplayer is cooperative and not adversarial. The game starts with the selection of a region, and a plot of land in the aforesaid region, and it is off to the races we go, building a city.

The gameplay, at first, will be instantly familiar to fans of the series. The mayor constructs roads, and then zones areas into one of the following types of zones, residential, commercial and industrial. Residential zones are places where your citizens can live, industrial zones give them a place to work, and commercial zones are the shops and stores where they can then spend their hard earned money. Each of these, in turn, then generates tax revenue for the city, which can then be spent maintaining infrastructure, expanding the city, or upgrading and adding to the existing infrastructure. It all sounds simple enough, but soon additional services are required for the city – police stations to reduce crime, firehouses to keep fires from running rampant, and schools to both get citizens better jobs and to reduce crime and the chance that buildings catch on fire. (Crazy, right?)

And that’s pretty much the core of the game right there. It is essentially an exercise in happiness management. The mayor needs to keep the citizens of their city happy by providing services, and making sure that the city is clean and safe all the while making sure that the city is living within its mean, that it is not outspending the amount of money it receives in taxes. Happy citizens then attract more visitors to the city, creating a greater demand for services and amenities, while also increasing tax revenues, and thus a city becomes a living, breathing thing, and hopefully a sustainable one. Sooner or later, that small town, if managed well, has become a small bustling metropolis.

It’s at this point that longtime fans of the franchise will take some issue with the game. The first complaint that one hears out there are that player cities are small. People will not get to build sprawling metropolises complete with suburbs and outlying sections of land providing utilities the way that  they were able to in the past, and also absent from the game is the ability to terraform the playing area. The game can’t help but start to feel cramped once the mid game is reached, and though there is a lot of gameplay still left by what one would consider the middle of the game, it becomes more of a fight to find the land to build higher tech buildings than an exercise in city planning.

The late game does force cities in a particular region to specialize. Friends who have populated a region together will have the ability to plan and share resources, much like in real life. Many commodities and services can be sold to other players, such as water, and sewage capacity. A judicious city planner will have left plenty of real estate open in order to specialize their city and build specialist buildings which will bring in enormous amounts of trade or tax revenues, depending on the path chosen.

Opinions on Sim City have been as divisive as they have been wide ranging. Some feel that it’s a fantastic title. Others believe that it is a failure because of all of the server issues that consumers were forced to endure in the opening days of the game. More still feel that its stifling claustrophobia make this title a terrible game. It happens to be that it is all of these things, and at the same time it is now. There are elements to Sim City that are absolutely brilliant. There are few greater joys than seeing one of the buildings in your city upgrade itself to a skyscraper for the first time. There is also very few things that are as disappointing as buying a title that you have been eagerly anticipating for quite a long time, and not being able to enjoy it because of server issues.

Sim City, though it had its foibles, is a good game. At its lightest, it is a complex city-building model, and at it’s deepest it teaches the player valuable lessons about sustainable cities, and how they operate. Perhaps the long term effects of Sim City will be its greatest legacy. How many current mayors grew up playing the original games in the franchise, and how many mayors of the future will be influenced by the concepts of sustainability espoused by this title?

Sim City is currently available on the PC.

PAX Prime 2012 Hands On – SimCity

Posted on: September 1st, 2012 by Michael Dao 3 Comments

By: Michael Dao

While most other outlets are scouring the expo hall floor, waiting for their media appointments to see all of the AAA games and reporting to you the progress of all of the titles you’re gong to be purchasing this holiday season regardless, is marching to the beat of its own drum, it’s walking down the path less taken, it’s taking a less beaten path. You get the point. Hidden away in a corner of the Nvidia booth and available for play was an early, early version of SimCity.

The ground shook with anticipation when it was announced that 2013 would see a new installment of the franchise which gave rise to the best selling video game series on earth, The Sims. The original had the player become the mayor of at first a small town, and they had to turn their small town into a thriving metropolis, or sometimes, just survive against a plethora of natural, and perhaps not so natural disasters. The player would do so by zoning areas to become commercial, industrial and residential zones, building roads, utilities and providing for and paying for all of the services that a burgeoning locale requires. The trick was to keep the tax revenue flowing, while concentrating on growing the population, and tax base of your city. As with any simulation, the older versions of SimCity, had many realistic elements, and the game could be incredibly circular at times. As the population of a city grew, crime became more of a problem, and to stop people from leaving the city, police stations needed to be built. The only thing is that police stations cost money, and to pay for them, the population needed to be increased. Sometimes, it felt as if the player was forced to rob both Peter and Paul simultaneously, as it were.

One of the major changes to the expected was the social and multiplayer aspects of the game. Although this means that similarly to Diablo 3, SimCity can no longer be played offline, it does open up some unique and interesting opportunities to the player. New cities must connect to a regional highway, and it is this highway that brings among other things, new residents, but it is also this highway that connects the player’s city to the cities of other players. Yes, you read correctly, things just got real. Connecting cities in this manner provide all sorts of possibilities. No longer does a city exist in a vacuum, it lives in a much greater ecosystem. Things that you do have an effect on neighboring cities, and there is the opportunity for certain synergies to be achieved. One player may decide that they wish to manage an environmentally friendly, sleepy residential town, devoid of heavy industrial areas, and just have their citizens commute to another city to work. Or perhaps you’re that industrial power, with an empire of steel willing to deal with additional pollution, but also providing jobs to other cities and selling them excess power generation. You can clearly see the potential here.

These pie in the sky concepts are all pretty good, but how does it look? The graphics are much improved so far, but it is still early days for the game. The game shares more with The Sims than its previous incarnations, and that’s not a bad thing. The interface was simple and has a similar button layout. Anyone who has played SimCity Social on the Facebook will feel right at home in navigating all of the possible build options, and as befitting a game of its pedigree, the game looks great zoomed all the way out, as well as zoomed all the way in. The player can actually zoom to a single resident and see what they are doing and where they are heading. Each resident of the town appears to be simulated.

The greatest changes made to the game as compared with previous versions, however has to be the gameplay. It follows the trend of many remakes, in that a lot of the minutiae has been removed in order to allow the player to focus on the core gameplay elements. I will admit that I was never very good at SimCity. There was always one part of the game I would hit after a few hours where I would never be able to grow the city any further without taking on some serious debt, the politics of which I will not debate in a virtual world. There was also a good amount of micromanagement in older titles. Roads had to be built, of course, but so did items like power transmission lines, sewer pipes, and water lines. It isn’t enough to zone areas and collect money, services needed to be provided, and it was often difficult to lay out water in an area that only just needed it. So, in this title, all services of that nature are tied to roads, which does make sense, allowing people to plan more effectively just using roads.

SimCity has always been an open ended game. The last title, SimCity 4, followed this mold, and I had a great difficulty playing the game, as the cities I built would never really scale all that well, and my town would soon find itself in fiscal crisis. The new title, however, nips this right in the bud, what’s greatly improved upon are the feedback mechanisms for the player. It’s easier to see just what is going on in your city, and what its residents are thinking. The best improvement to tackle this issue, however, is the addition of a quest system of sorts. There is no bright gold exclamation point that the player needs to get to and click on to read a quest description for. The closest analogue here is something that again, players of SimCity Social will find familiar. Your city has an adviser that will provide intermediate goals. These goals provide the player with a focus and sense of direction that will appeal to gamers that like the concept of city management game, but do not care for the open world aspect of it.


Announced at the Game Changers event, SimCity certainly does that. Having gotten to spend some time with the game, it was incredibly satisfying to experience new concepts executed brilliantly within a formula that has managed to retain its popularity since its first installment in 1989. Whether the final product is as good as this demo leads us to believe it will be does remain to be seen. However, I can tell you that during the entire time I was playing the demo, I was smiling. I’m pretty confident it will be.

SimCity will be available in February 2013 for PC and Mac.


Sim City Release Date Goodness!

Posted on: June 1st, 2012 by Michael Dao No Comments


By: Michael Dao

Do you like cities? Do you like Sims? SimCity, right?

Well, Electronics Arts has announced that SimCity finally has a release date. February 2013. Although it is not as soon as many players would like, this is indeed the first update to the franchise in a very, very long time, and is one that is eagerly anticipated due to the social nature of the game.

Right now, SimCity is only due for the PC.


Shepard sends probe to iOS with Mass Effect 3 Datapad

Posted on: March 14th, 2012 by Doug Scott No Comments

There’s a lot of content in the Mass Effect universe. A lot. You’re so busy saving the galaxy and stopping the Reapers that you’ll never have chance to just sit and enjoy the codex. Enter the Mass Effect 3 Datapad, a portable app for your iOS devices. The Mass Effect 3 Datapad gives you access to the codex, private messages from your crew, tweets from other players, videos, screenshots, and an interesting mission system that raises your galactic readiness.

The mission system allows you to send a crew to a different planets to preform operations that will net you credits and some galactic readiness. The downside is that these missions can take several hours. So, wherever you are, be it at work, on the bus, or in the “captain’s cabin,” you can help prep your Shepard for the assault on the Reapers.

The Mass Effect 3 Datapad is now available for free on the App Store.

Source: iTunes

New Sim City in 2013

Posted on: March 7th, 2012 by Doug Scott No Comments

What more can we say? There’s a new Sim City in the works. It’s expected sometime in 2013. It’s coming to PC. Why waste your time torturing an individual family in The Sims when you’ll be able to terrorize entire cities again? Check out the trailer below.


Source: EA

Via: Joystiq

DICE Details Hundreds of Battlefield 3 Fixes

Posted on: February 23rd, 2012 by Doug Scott No Comments

We’d be lying if we told you we weren’t fans of the Battlefied series. While last year’s Battlefield 3 is still a staff favorite (it made it into our top ten list), we can’t say that it is a perfect experience. Needless to say, there are a lot of problems in the game. DICE has heard the complaints, and they are rushing to fix everything possible. Everything. DICE has released a list of over a hundred problems that they plan on addressing as soon as possible. While hundreds of problems seems astronomical, these are mainly balance tweaks of weapons and respawn times. To see the full list, check out the update on the Battlelog.

Source: Battlelog

Via: Joystiq

Demo Reel: SSX

Posted on: February 21st, 2012 by Doug Scott No Comments


What is it?

The old school (it wasn’t that long ago) snowboarding series has undergone a reboot. Bright colorful snowboarders carve their own paths into some of the world’s most trecharous mountains to the tune of some phat beats and sick tricks.

What’s it about?

Players get access to two courses. One course for racing, and the other for performing tricks. A mirage of techno, dubstep and the requisite RUN D.M.C. sets a fun lighthearted tone for the game (a welcome change from the game’s initial reveal back in 2010). In the final build, it appears that were will be over 150 drops to snowboard down. Each drop either focuses on speed or high scores from tricks and combos. Low times and high scores appear to net you some form of currency that you can spend on gear and upgrades. Unfortunately, none of that is available in the demo.

Is it fun?

This vibrant (even in the dark) experience is pure joy. Tricks are easy to pull off with the new controls. Utilizing either the four face buttons or the right thumbstick, you’ll be pulling off multiple flips, spins, and grabs from a single jump. The game is by no means gritty and realistic. Instead, SSX sticks to the series’ roots of buoyant snowboarding.

How big is it/ how long is it?

The demo is 1.3 GB, a standard size. With it you only have access to two drops, one for racing and the other for pulling off as many tricks as possible. There are two videos that explain the online features. RiderNet is a recommendation system that allows you to show off your times and scores to your friends. You’l be able to race a ghost of your friends’ runs. Explore mode, the only mode available in the demo, will keep track of your high scores and fastest times while comparing you to your friends. As versatile as the online features are, there are still only two courses to play in this demo. Don’t expect this demo to satiate any hunger for the game. It will only whet your appetite for the release on February 28, 2012.

This preview is based on the Xbox 360 demo available now. A demo is also available on the PSN.

NFL Blitz: The Revival of a Football Legend

Posted on: January 9th, 2012 by John Parie No Comments

First off let’s get this out of the way – There are no late hits in NFL Blitz. I know this is shocking to some and it may sound like the heart of the game has been ripped out, but I assure you this one missing component is no reason to avoid this game.

NFL Blitz is everything that fans of the original game could want. The game brings back all of the hard-hitting, 1st and 30, 80-yard bombs action that made the series so much fun to play. The big win in this edition is the return of NFL license thanks to the acquisition of the game franchise from Midway. Sure the game maybe fun in its own right, but playing as your favorite team and taking it to your division rival is just so much more satisfying. (more…)

Battlefield 3 Goes Back To Karkland First on Playstation 3

Posted on: September 22nd, 2011 by Doug Scott No Comments

Here’s a bit of a twist. Microsoft normally lands the timed exclusives for DLC. The upcoming Modern Warfare 3 will be getting DLC map packs a month early on Xbox 360. To retaliate, Sony has secured the timed exclusive for the upcoming mega release of Battlefield 3. Starting with the “Back to Karkland” expansion, four maps from Battlefield 2 rebuilt in the Frostbite 2.0 engine, the Playstation 3 will be getting a week long head start. This may cause some of the more rabid fans to reconsider which platform they’ll be playing on, or if they’re like us they’ll try to buy it on all three platforms.

Source: US Playstation Blog

Rumor: Dead Space 3 Confirmed by Israeli TV

Posted on: September 21st, 2011 by Doug Scott No Comments

On a tour of EA’s Redwood Shores studio in California, the Israeli television show, “The Headlines,” caught a slight glimpse at what may be Dead Space 3 in development. Video of a Dead Space 3 logo and art work have been captured on video. Needless to say, we wouldn’t be shocked if this turned out to be true. We’re always looking for an excuse to dismember necromorphs.


Source: IGN