Codex Gamicus

SimCity 4 (SC4) is a 2003 simulation/city building computer game; the fourth installment in the SimCity series of games. It was published by Electronic Arts (EA) and developed by series creator Maxis, a wholly owned subsidiary of EA. Features the ability to import characters from The Sims to live in the city. An expansion, SimCity 4: Rush Hour was later released. The two were later packaged together in SimCity 4: Deluxe Edition.

Gameplay changes[]

Regional gameplay[]

As with previous SimCity titles, SimCity 4 places players in the role of a mayor (or several mayors), tasked with populating and developing tracts of lands into cities, while fulfilling the needs of fellow Sims that live in the cities. There are many differences between this game and previous versions, the largest difference being that cities are now located in regions that are divided into segments, each of which can be developed. The regional play concept adds a whole new dimension to this sequel of SimCity.

Neighbor cities play a larger role than in the previous version of the game, SimCity 3000. For example, neighbor deals can be established, where a city can exchange resources such as water, electricity, or garbage disposal for money. In this version, the player may develop several dependent cities at the same time, eventually populating the entire region.

Game modes[]

Upon selecting a specific segment in a region, gameplay is divided into three "modes". The first of which is the God Mode, which allows players to design or terraform a selected tract of land where the city will be built. God Mode also allows players to trigger disasters, including tornados, earthquakes and robot attacks, among several others.

The second of the modes is the Mayor Mode, the fundamental mode of the game where the actual city building is conducted. The mode allows players to insert necessary structures and facilities, such as roads, civic buildings, zoning and power stations, for the city to attract its intended tenants and grow.

The final mode is the My Sim mode which enables players to create user-defined Sims and closely assess citizens' needs. The mode primarily involves the deployment of Sims into the present city, where they will reside and provide feedback on the areas surrounding their home, commute and workplace.

Civic and utility structures[]

The functions of civic buildings have been overhauled in SC4. Facilities that had previously provided citywide coverage (educational facilities and hospitals) have now been modified to provide a more limited coverage, as it has been with police stations and fire stations in previous SimCity titles. This would require players to plan the best locations to provide sufficient civic services to Sims effectively (e.g. placing schools in or around residential areas).

Zoning and building occupancy[]

Zoning and building size have also changed. Rather than have a large area zoned and have roads ringing it, zones are automatically aligned towards roads to avoid the aesthetic frustration in earlier SimCity games, such as buildings and garages constructed facing the wrong way from the road. Also, streets are automatically created when zoning on large tracts of land. Buildings are now classified into several wealth levels, zone types and "stages" (building size and density), which are affected by the region's population and the city's condition; commercial buildings, for example, may be divided into services and offices, with the former typically in higher demand and better suited for less educated Sims.

Compatibility with The Sims and The Sims 2[]

SimCity 4 can be used in conjunction with Maxis' popular game The Sims. Sims from can be imported into the city where they will report what they think of the area they are living in. SC4 comes with 21 default Sims for those without a copy of the game. Moreover, SC4 has a control interface very similar to The Sims.

In addition, city layouts created in SimCity 4 can be used as neighborhood templates in The Sims 2. The location of roads, trees, bridges, and map features such as rivers and hills are preserved in the importation.

Graphics and music[]

Unlike its predecessors, which used an engine based on 2D dimetric projection and sprite, SimCity 4 primarily uses a 3D engine to render its graphics. The landscape and moving props such as vehicles are modeled as fully polygonal 3D objects.

Although a 3D engine is used, the camera in SimCity 4 is restricted to a fixed trimetric orthographic projection, giving a similar feel to older SimCity games. This is for performance reasons.

The game includes over three hours of background music (mostly library pieces) in MP3 format, ranging from four to seven minutes in length. The music is divided between that used in Region Mode and God Mode, and that used in the city view in Mayor Mode (see below).

Building designs[]

Repeating the limited design principle practiced during SimCity 3000, commercial and residential buildings in SimCity 4 borrow heavily from early 20th century architectural styles, particularly Art Deco and Romanesque Revival, while most houses appear in a traditional American Craftsman bungalow style, and modern architecture is sprinkled throughout this mix.

There are a number of buildings based on those found in San Francisco, including the Shell Building (appearing as "Wren Insurance"), 450 Sutter (appearing as "Vu Financial"), and the PacBell Building (as "The Galvin Corp"). Three of the game's bridges are also based on real-life versions, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge. The Rush Hour expansion pack also includes a bridge modeled to the likeness of the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and several Europe-designed buildings based on real-life counterparts in Europe, mostly from Frankfurt, Germany, such as the Commerzbank Tower (as "Hurt Enterprises HQ").