This text first appeared in concern 354 of PC Gamer journal, in our PC Gaming Legends characteristic. Each month we run unique options exploring the world of PC gaming—from behind-the-scenes previews, to unbelievable neighborhood tales, to fascinating interviews, and extra.
I do not suppose city-building video games, regardless of the angle of trying down on all of the tiny folks and making selections that may deliver them happiness or destroy their lives, actually make me really feel like a god. I often really feel extra like a Peeping Tom blended with an exasperated guardian. I enjoyment of simply spying on my residents to see what they’re as much as, and getting aggravated once they want one thing from me. “Wonderful, I am going to construct you a hospital! Now cease bloody complaining all the time so I can get again to blissfully squinting in any respect the little automobiles driving round.”
SimCity 2000 was a revelation to me. I might performed the unique SimCity, however SimCity 2000 swapped from the top-down view and 2D graphics to an isometric perspective, which made my little cities really feel completely alive and actual. There was a lot element packed into its pixels, giving each tiny home and park and skyscraper its personal persona. In a number of days I might know my digital metropolis’s neighbourhoods and roads higher than the one I truly lived in. After constructing an airport, I might fortunately watch the teensy, tiny aeroplanes inching throughout the display screen for hours. I all the time rushed to construct seaports simply so slightly boat would seem within the waterways. It was like a reside feed from a webcam pointed at an actual metropolis, lengthy earlier than reside webcams have been even a factor. SimCity 2000 was one of many first PC video games to essentially sink its hooks into me, and I might usually eat dinner in entrance of the display screen, not even enjoying however simply observing.
And once I wasn’t simply looking at my metropolis, there was a lot to fiddle with. Taxes to extend once I bumped into cash troubles, underground views for laying down utility pipes and subway traces, and graphs exhibiting varied attributes of my metropolis that… effectively, I most likely by no means actually understood all of the graphs. However at the least they have been there if I wished to have a look at them.
And there was simply one thing so mesmerising about peering down on the little world I used to be constructing, seeing the automobiles on the roads I constructed obeying the little visitors lights, experimenting with metropolis ordinances, watching town slowly develop till it was so extremely huge I might nearly run out of room. After which I might begin a brand new one.
Smash the system
It was additionally extraordinarily uncommon on the time: a recreation that had a starting however no actual ending, with no real win-state, or perhaps a method to let you already know in case you ought to surrender and begin over or maintain engaged on town you had earlier than you. It was open-ended, and you possibly can construct and handle your metropolis indefinitely. As soon as I even left my recreation working in a single day whereas I slept, simply to see if it might maintain itself. I am fairly positive it was in unhealthy form the subsequent morning.
There was additionally the satisfaction that comes together with constructing one thing lovely—knocking it down so I might attempt to rebuild it once more. Disasters might happen, with something from earthquakes to airplane crashes to alien assaults, however I might launch them myself, too, if I wished slightly further problem or if my metropolis was buzzing alongside so properly I would just gotten a bit bored. That is the hazard of together with a catastrophe menu on the high of the display screen. It is unattainable to not click on on it now and again. Increase. There is a flood or twister or a nuclear accident. Hmm, perhaps metropolis builder video games do make me really feel like some type of god in spite of everything, and never a really good one at that.