SIM TOWER REVIEW - September 1995
|The 102nd game in Maxis' Sim series (and one
continuing the ever-decreasing scale which will surely see us playing Sim Desk Drawer
before the year is out) takes the player, in a sense, right down inside the very heart of
Sim City 2000.
In that game building huge skyscrapers was accomplished with a single click of the mouse button, but now you have to design and construct the whole thing yourself, right down to the service elevators for the individually-nameable cleaning ladies (and they are all ladies, by the way) to drag those sinister wheely carts up and down. I was, at this point, going to explain the game's aims and structures in finer detail, but since even Hugh Grant could work it out for himself (it's a Sim. It's a Tower), we'll just get to the point(s), okay?
Despite a nastily confusing and largely unhelpful manual, Sim Tower is really easy to get into. Almost too easy, in fact. The instant you stick a couple of office blocks on top of your lobby, companies and workers flood into them and start paying your grossly-inflated rents without a murmur of complaint. When you run out of cash after about three floors, therefore, it's a simple matter of hanging around for a while until your bank balance fills up again.
At one point early on in my first proper tower, I'd accidentally blown my last $100,000 on an extra car for my unused service elevator (and while we're on the subject, how complicated would an 'Oops' key have been?) and was sitting around watching lots of office workers get annoyed at the shortage of proper lifts during the lunchtime rush, when ex-PC Gamer Ed Matt Bielby stumbled into the office and started telling me about the Judge Dredd movie which he'd just been to the premiere of. Interested, I listened intently to his tales of great sets and effects (and absolutely terrible scripts and acting) for ten minutes or so, forgetting about the ongoing life of my Empire State wannabe. On turning back to the screen, I was pleasantly surprised to notice over a million dollars in my account, enough cash for another three floors of $3000-a-night hotel rooms.
The game tries to compensate for this by making you wait for your overall rating to increase in stages before you can build things more complex than the initial three (office, fast food outlet, flat), but it just feels artificial and a bit annoying. Also a bit annoying are the inflexible and inconveniently different sizes of the different constructions, which often leave you with unsightly empty grey patches in the middle of your gleaming spire (this is a tower simulation, not some kind of Lego exam), but both of these flaws are outweighed by the field-tested addictiveness of the Sim engine. Hang on. Sim Engine? Now there's an idea.
Flawed but essentially lovely Sim game. A few problems with balance, but probably the best Sim after SC2000.