Back in 2014, EA developed SimCity Buildit . At the time, both 3D games and the city building genre were quite outdated, and the result was a classic mobile game of simulation. Originally titled Simcity Mobile, SimCity Buildit was the first game to use fully 3D elements on a prerendered background. It also took advantage of the cutting-edge of the day advantage of mobile devices of today.
EA is hoping to recapture that experience with this mobile, this time as the publisher. Maxis is taking over the development duties, and from what we saw from a recent build, is doing an admirable job of capturing the basic feel of the original. But unlike the previous version of SimCity, Buildit will be coming out for a wide variety of platforms, both on iOS and Android.
The story continues from the original game… sort of. In SimCity Buildit, players took control of a city as a mayor. But in this game, everything has been updated. Gamers still control the city, only this time more on management. Also updated this time around are the amazing graphics. Maxis has been working hard to develop a proprietary lighting system that makes the shadows and light utterly convincing. While we only saw a few of the more than 1,200 prerendered backgrounds, they looked almost photographic in their detail. Just as impressive are the subtle segues between the in-game play and the profession CG cutscenes.
And just as smooth as the graphics is the clean interface. While we moved about in the standard mode, no graphics or interface cluttered up the screen.They were slight and almost transparent, but they provided plenty of information in a hurry. That sort of minimal interference between the game and the gamer seems to be a hallmark of Maxis’ approach to the project.
The gameplay itself should be familiar to fans of original SimCity series, as well as other titles. Moving your 3D city through the prerendered environment is a snap with a screen, and the intelligent camera system was always well positioned in the action we saw. The gameplay is going to be a balance of both simulation and management solving, with an emphasis on management that fit into the tone of the game. Saving games on the mobile will be handled via amulets that have to be discovered, but, once found, will allow games to be saved anywhere. Players, however, should be able to save anywhere at will.
It’s a beautiful-looking game so far, and Maxis promises us that SimCity Buildit will be ready for an update next month. Since the last SimCity game came out 3 years ago, there is some question whether the series has much clout among gamers. And the market is a lot more crowded with horror games these days than it was back then. But Maxis is taking its time with this one, and if the version we saw is an indication of the final product, we’re looking forward to being alone again.