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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 while advertisements have played up a feature in Sim City Creator that allows players to destroy cities via spectacular means such as UFOs, monsters, and earthquakes, the violence is actually quite mild -- you just see tiny buildings crumbling or burning to the ground. What's more, the game does a good job of introducing players to the challenges involved in municipal management. It teaches the rudiments of city zoning, garbage disposal, utilities allocation, and budgeting. However, be warned that the game's high level of complexity combined with inadequate controls may lead some players to experience more frustration than fun.
What's it about?
The ever-expanding Sims universe bulges a little more with SIM CITY CREATOR, which lets players build and manage their own municipalities. A series of 15 tutorials lays down the rules for such activities as city zoning and utilities allocation. Then players are left to explore the game's broad array of functionality on their own. You can design and construct cities however you see fit, working within a modest budget to build infrastructure and municipal buildings that will attract residents, who will in turn start businesses and grow the city's economy. But watch out for potential disasters; an earthquake or fire could demolish massive portions of the cityscape and leave you struggling to keep citizens satisfied.
Despite its all-ages rating and the kid-friendly Wii platform, Sim City Creator, like many city building games, can feel dauntingly complex. While the basics are pretty straightforward -- make sure all of your buildings have power, that there are measures in place to deal with garbage and pollution, and that roads exist to make citizens' commutes as simple and short as possible -- learning how to manage the costs of these projects by altering tax percentages, taking out multiple loans, and buying and selling power and waste, is a formidable challenge. Staying in the black without prompting a citizen revolt in the form of a union strike or population exodus can be extremely difficult.
Is it any good?
Complicating matters, the game's controls are finicky at best. Attempting to create a new zone by using the Wii remote as a pen to paint the land a certain color is a clumsy process and can take minutes to complete. And if you aren't careful to keep the remote pointed at the center of the screen during play you may suddenly find the map scrolling off to one side or another. What's more, the Wii's relatively modest graphics processing power and standard definition output make for some muddy looking cities. Indeed, Sim City Creator would have benefited greatly from the precise control of a mouse and cleaner graphics, making one wonder whether perhaps it should have been developed as a PC title.
A small group of city-building fans will likely have fun tinkering with Sim City Creator's surprisingly deep features, but casual gamers would be better off looking elsewhere for their interactive entertainment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how well or poorly they think SimCity Creator has managed to recreate the challenges of city planning. Has it provided you a better appreciation for municipal issues facing your own community? Do you think you might be able to use the creation tools in this game to fashion a rough replica of your own city or town? Do you feel badly when disasters wipe out large swaths of urban land?
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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.