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SimCity Sadness

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Posted on March 7, 2013 AT 11:52am

I really hoped to post my SimCity review today. I have been looking forward to this game since its announcement last year, as it’s been far too long between proper installments of this series. Sadly, though I received a copy of the game first thing Tuesday, I have not been able to log enough hours with it to come to any sort of conclusion whatsoever.

Since I had originally loaded the files for the game late in the beta cycle I didn’t have any issues getting the final version up and running. All it took was a brief update and I was ready to go.

I did have some concerns when the game showed both U.S. servers as busy, but it allowed me to choose between the two European servers, so that’s what I did to get going.

In fact, I played for nearly five hours without a hitch, playing through the tutorial section and starting my first city in a small region. I logged off to do some other work and planned on logging back in and playing all evening.

That’s when things went south.

Tuesday evening I was unable to login. I tried for more than three hours before giving up and watched a bad movie on Netflix instead before going to bed.

I started again Wednesday morning, and after another hour of login issues I finally managed to connect. That’s when I started to receive the message that the game couldn’t load my cities.

Fortunately, I am beyond the age when such setbacks tempted me to throw my computer out a window. That is until I finally got my cities to load, only to find them missing. Well, that’s not quite accurate. The cities were there, it’s the stuff in them that were missing. My first city had reverted back to a much earlier state, while my second city (which I built so my Sims would have a nicer place to live, away from the mining operations) was gone completely.

Now, I have a very stable, very fast, very expensive fiber optic Internet connection. But for some reason, during that second day, my connection with the game kept dropping. Usually it was only for a minute or two, and usually it did no damage. But usually isn’t good enough. On at least two occasions I had to restart the game and lost progress — though thankfully I did not lose whole cities again.

Wednesday night I had similar problems, not being able to login or my cities not loading, but when they finally did they were thankfully intact. Interruptions were even more common, and I just gave up on it for the night. At least my movie choice on Netfix was better.

It is now Thursday morning, and I am once again waiting to login, receiving the now too familiar “Server Busy” message. I’ve been watching the clock click down between server connection attempts for nearly four hours now, to no avail.

For its part, EA has announced that it’s working furiously 24/7 to get things fixed, and in the meantime it has decided to disable “non essential” features such as Leaderboards and Achievements to make things run smoother. You read that right, EA is disabling parts of the game just so people can connect and play.

I am not going to use this space to rail against the always-on Internet required DRM, though you can expect to see that in my review.

For right now I will say that I have enjoyed the time I have managed to play SimCity, but were I a consumer who purchased it based on buzz alone, I would have given up already and asked for a refund. There is nothing that kills excitement like having a game that doesn’t play right.

I’m hoping that the login problems will be fixed in the next few days, and that any disabled features will be re-enabled. In the meantime I will keep trying to login to play, and will do my best to put the problems behind me and approach the game from an objective standpoint. But playing a game is all about your experience, and up to this point my experience, like so many others, has been terrible.

For those thinking about buying this game, I would wait a while to make sure these problems are fixed. After all, there’s no need to ruin what I honestly think could be a good game before you ever get a chance to play it.

Marc Camron, Senior Editor
Marc Camron somehow survived E3. The crowds were big, the games were loud and somehow he managed to get a sunburn on the top of his big, bald melon. Yet, despite all of this, he had a blast, seeing people he only sees once a year, playing all of the new games, and staying up way past his bedtime. Next year he might even have a beer.

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