The premise of the game is exactly like its predecessor SimCity; however, the scope of the game was largely expanded. The user interface was upgraded to a cascading toolbar style, new disasters were added, deeper levels of utilities and transportation were added, and much more. Probably the most obvious upgrade was the move from a top-down 2D view, to an isometric "2.5D" view.
New types of facilities included prisons, schools, libraries, museums, parks, marinas, zoos, stadiums, hospitals (although they appeared randomly on residential blocks in the first SimCity, they could not be built by player) and arcologies. Players could build highways, roads, bus depots, railway tracks, train depots and zone land for seaports and airports. There are a total of nine varieties of power plants in SC2K, including coal, natural gas, wind turbines, hydroelectric dams (which can only be placed on waterfall tiles) and the futuristic fusion power plant. Most types of power plants have a limited life span and must be rebuilt periodically.
The budget and finance controls are also much more elaborate — tax rates can be set individually for residential, commercial and industrial zones. Enacting city ordinances and connecting to neighbouring cities became possible.
Graphics were added for buildings under construction in the residential, commercial, and industrial zones, as well as darkened buildings depicting abandoned buildings as a result of urban decay.
Though there is no "true" victory sequence in SimCity 2000, the "exodus" is a close parallel. An "exodus" occurs after the year 2051 or later, when 301 or more Launch Arcologies are constructed; each one "takes off" into space so that their inhabitants can form new civilizations on distant worlds (although the visual representation of the scene consists of the Arcologies exploding in a manner similar to bulldozed buildings, one by one.
The game also included several playable "scenarios", in which the player must deal with a disaster (in most, but not all scenarios) and rebuild the city to meet a set of victory conditions. These were based in versions of real-life cities, and some were based on real events such as the 1991 Oakland firestorm, Hurricane Hugo in Charleston, South Carolina, or dealing with economic depression in Flint, Michigan - but also included more fanciful ones such as a "monster" destroying Hollywood.
the newspaper has some wacky articles to read when something happens in your city.