This post is mainly to rant about how shitty SimCity, EA Games newest version of Maxis' fabled City simulator, is. In a previous post, http://www.roadwolf.ca/blog/?p=2108 I ranted quite fairly about my beta testing experience. While there were many downsides, I did mention that it was kinda fun, and more of a time sink game, then any actual challenge. I didn't think that any game release could be any worse then Spore's was. The hype that Spore got prior to release, was a huge let down when it was finally released in a dumbbed down version of the game. SimCity takes this disappointment to a whole new level. At the moment I am typing this, I am on hold waiting to speak to a tech support rep for EA. The wait time is 143 minutes for SimCity tech support! Last night I tried using online help. It kept on telling me the wait time was 5 minutes. I waited over 2 hours, with no response.
SimCity is a game which includes massive DRM, which requires you to use Origin, EA's shitty version of Steam to play SimCity on. You must be logged in and have broadband to use the game! First of all, Origin is so over simplified, that it doesn't tell you anything! You do not know if a game is downloading or updating. And your only clue is sometimes the word 'processing' in the opening flash screen of the game once you launch it. There is no statistical data as to how much bandwidth the update is using, or how large it is. While for most I suppose this isn't a problem, for people who operate on tethered wireless data plans, this information might be useful.
It is also useful in my case where I run a minecraft server at home. I have a business class internet connection, and usually my server is pretty stable, even if I am streaming netflix. Yesterday I decided to download SimCity, and it knocked EVERYONE off of my server. The speed usage was so high it flooded out requests for everything else. But I had no indication of this through Origin. No stats, nothing. Just a progress bar with the word Processing. WTF is processing?
Okay so typically in the gaming world, updates happen maybe 2 or 3 times a month max, and are typically a few megabytes, to a rare update every few months of a few hundred meg. No big deal I guess... I can live with that.
So I installed the game on my super fast internet connection. Played through the mandatory tutorial, which was the same as the beta tutorial. I got stuck in the same glitch during this tutorial that I did in the beta! I had even reported it in the beta. Luckily I had figured out myself how to reset the game, because there was no obvious path to do this which was apparent on screen. The tutorial was as boring and point and click as ever, similar indeed to the whole playstyle of the game. The game is purely a time sink. It has no challenging game qualities. The graphics are also sub par by todays standards. Layers of the map, like dirt and grass would constantly overlap the roads depending on how I positioned my camera. The release was not polished at all.
So I started a new city once I finished the tutorial, in a private invite only region. I do not want to play with anyone. Call me anti social, call me strange, call me a loner, just don't call me late for dinner. I can see the multiplayer aspect might be kinda fun sometimes. But playing with random people, doesn't usually appeal to me. And I can think of a number of better ways to get trolled by 7 year olds and have more fun online, then by building a silly city. Regardless, I established a new city in a private region and logged off. I then went to sleep with the intention of waking up, and hitting the road, and maybe playing the game later on remotely.
So I logged in later, remotely connected to the internet using wireless data, at around 56kbps. Origin logged in and allowed me to log into SimCity's DRM servers. And I went to open my city. And then I waited... And waited... And waited some more. Keep in mind this is an empty city, and I am using a high performance gaming laptop. I thought it had to be the dreaded 'cloud'. SimCity stores all of its games on a freaking cloud! It took an hour for my empty city to load up. I was able to play it for roughly 20 minutes before I had to put the computer in hibernate and do a few things. When I came back, the city had exited back to the main menu... Useless.
Now I absolutely hate the cloud. The cloud is a terrible idea for end users. But it is sold as an amazing idea. It is used to keep track of your personal data and confine you to use whoever's system for the rest of your life if you want to retain that data. It is the same idea as a mainframe and terminal set up from the 70's and 80's where computers were overly expensive and it wasn't practical to give every terminal the same processing power, as that would cost a lot of money. In stead, there was a main server which had a lot of power, and dumb terminals that connected to it in order to operate. Well technology has progressed, and we all have access to powerful computers. Many now fit in the palm of our hands. Storage space has also increased too. Allowing us to store massive amounts of data. But yet, we get these corporations selling us the whole cloud storage bullshit. It is simply to control your data and comb through your data for you. I avoid clouds almost religiously. When I found out that Amazon MP3 on my Android phone switched to default all purchases to the cloud only, I literally threw my phone I was so mad. Luckily my wife was able to roll back the version of Amazon MP3 to a version prior to the cloud service, which now downloads every song I purchase automatically. Much better!
After finally getting through to SimCity tech support, they did confirm that the cloud save features were required, and local saving is impossible. They also said the game requires a high speed data connection. Great, so I have to pay out the ass for high speed data while roaming in order to play a silly game? Nope. So I asked if I could get a refund. The generic answer was But I was able to talk to Origin Account Services at 1-866-543-5435 and explained my situation. They were going to give me a refund, however they claimed there was a problem with the transaction and to call back and wait for another 145 minutes tomorrow to request a refund again. I imagine I will have to pursue legal action to get back my $86.39
I should of known this would turn out worse then Spore. I was kind of afraid it would. This bullshit on top of the limited city size and over simplified features which make the game as boring as ever, are not what I was hoping for. Hell I even let my city suffer without a fire department. Fires were starting every minute or so. But the city wouldn't burn down. No massive city size raging fire. Just a few buildings at a time. Where is the challenge? I simply bulldozed the rubble and new businesses were opening before their neighbors building had even stopped burning. In the original SimCity's such fires without a fire department could easily spread and engulf the whole city, as they should.
The game is lame... DO NOT BUY IT. I wouldn't even recommend it to 3rd graders. It has no educational value. No play value. It is purely an over simplified time sink with massive problems and DRM, and a massive drain on your bandwidth.