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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that SimCity is a simulation game about constructing cities. Players must build and then micromanage a growing city, trade resources with neighbors, and work towards a goal. Parents should know, however, there is some violence in the game -- a bank robbery and shootout with police, alien and monster attacks, and natural disasters than can partially wipe out your city -- but nothing is graphic. Finally, parents should be aware a persistent Internet connection is required for this game.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
One of the oldest and most successful computer game series has just been rebooted. SIMCITY, the open-ended city-building simulation that first debuted almost a quarter of a century ago, has undergone a much-needed makeover. Once again you're a mayor tasked with building and maintaining a thriving city: you’ll build roads and construct buildings to lure in residents; provide job opportunities by laying down commercial and industrial businesses; ensure power, water, and waste flows smoothly throughout the city; and fix problems to keep your residents happy, such as addressing high taxes, pollution, crime, and natural and unnatural disasters (such as earthquakes and UFO attacks, respectively). As you’d expect, every single decision you make shapes your city. Traffic congestion could prevent emergency services from reaching a location in a timely manner. To reduce pollution you might implement greener technology, like windmills, but it’ll likely mean higher unemployment. If you want to build up your city into a tourist haven, you might build a casino and widen roads to other cities –- but this will cost the taxpayer. If you need to scale back on public schools to save cash, parents might protest at city hall.
Is it any good?
SimCity is an exciting game, but the launch of this game has been heavily marred by technical issues. You see, an Internet connection is required -- even though it's primarily a single-player game -- and what's more, your game information is housed on EA's servers, therefore you can't play if they're down or busy. Another problem with mandatory Internet connectivity: forget about playing this game on your laptop while flying across the country, unless the airline offers Wi-Fi. Just as there was backlash against Activision Blizzard for a similar restriction in Diablo III, many players resent this requirement in SimCity.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about SimCity's required Internet connection -- even though it's a single-player game. Yes, you can visit cities created by others, but EA has chosen to make persistent online connectivity mandatory, which has upset players. Not only won't you be able to play with no connection (such as an airplane) but you're relying on EA's server to host the games, which can be buggy or too busy. What do you think about building a game that has to be played online?
Families can also discuss why simulation games are so compelling. What do you like about managing this game? What do you not like?
- Platforms: Mac, Windows
- Subjects: Social Studies: citizenship, events, government
Science: engineering, electricity, weather
Math: estimation, graphing, probability
- Skills: Tech Skills: digital creation, using and applying technology
Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, decision-making, thinking critically
Responsibility & Ethics: fiscal responsibility, honoring the community, learning from consequences
Collaboration: group projects, meeting challenges together
Creativity: developing novel solutions, imagination, producing new content
Self-Direction: identifying strengths and weaknesses, set objectives, work to achieve goals
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Electronic Arts
- Release date: March 5, 2013
- Genre: Simulation
- Topics: Cars and Trucks, Magic and Fantasy, High School, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens, Trains
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Mild Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.