SimCity Is Unplayable So We Didn't Review It
EA Screws Up Again
When EA went on record a week ago stating that all future games under the company banner will feature micro-transactions, I was under the impression that EA is going out of their way to be hated by gamers. I tried to give publisher the benefit of the doubt during the Mass Effect 3 ending fiasco, even defending the ending for a while. But as it turns out, SimCity s controversial always-online requirement broke me and squandered any withstanding respect I still held towards the publisher (and Maxis for that matter). As a result, I sent in my copy to get a refund and will no longer be reviewing SimCity.
The Back Story
Due to the nature of working for a smaller site such as The Game Effect, the majority of the games we review are purchased by the editors. While I probably would have been unable to resist temptation and would have bought SimCity eventually, were it not for the assignment I would have waited for reviews to come out first. Without that option, I was in the same boat as many long-time fans of the franchise who picked up the game day one, and like them I was met with a myriad of inexcusable issues.
While always-online games are not a new concept thanks to MMO’s, it was only recently that a feature required for gameplay became a measure against piracy with Diablo 3 last year. Rather than learning from the mistakes Blizzard made, EA and Maxis stood by their decision to incorporate this approach into into their game. The results have been catastrophic.
Starting at midnight with the game’s launch, there were queues with 30 minute wait times followed by additional queues with 30 minute wait times. Some users were unable to connect to Origin’s servers to download the game (Origin being another nuisance by EA), there are serious launch client issues with broken links, freezes when searching for updates, and problems when attempting to switch servers. And of course users getting kicked out during gameplay that can result in lost cities or bizarre glitches that mess up your city’s infrastructure. There is a sizable list of glitches over on Reddit, all of which point to a game that did not appear to benefit strongly from its beta. Some issues just point to basic gameplay features not working correctly.
Communication has also been an issue. In the client for a while, the message greeting users read: "The SimCity Service is closed for maintenance and will reopen at <parameter: string> GMT. For more information, please go to..." Gamers wanting to return the game, first have to deal with customer service agents who are unaware of EA’s statement that it is accepting refunds for the game. The game crashes more than any other game I have played before, crashing my laptop. And it's not a whimpy laptop either, as it's equipped with an i7-2630QM processor, 6GB of Ram, and an Intel HD Graphics 3000 card. Admittedly I only know a little about PC gaming, but my laptop has been able to run Civ 5, Diablo3, and other recent games at a medium-high setting. With SimCity I’m stuck at low, and the game isn’t very pretty at low settings.
Oh, and there are 3 pieces of 10 dollar day-one DLC that add different countries' skins to city buildings along with landmarks such as the Eiffel tower, which I believe have been included in past installments of the franchise.
Long story short, what many predicted would happen with SimCity became a reality, and that isn't something that I want to reward with my 60 dollars. The motto that has been associated with EA back lash since Mass Effect 3 is to speak with your wallet, and that is what I am doing by asking for a refund for the first time in my life. I tend to be a patient man, but everything about my first several hours with the game has left a bitter taste in my mouth.
I have no doubt that EA and Maxis will eventually get their crap together and everyone will be allowed online to build their cities. But will the constant crashing be fixed? Will gamers stop being kicked out of their regions and servers? If not, will they continue to lose their progress, and what happens if server issues occurred down the road? To be honest, I no longer care.
This is not the direction the industry should be taking, and if it takes this fiasco to wake EA up (which I doubt it will), then so be it. I apologize for the lack of the review on the site. If EA provided us with a copy, I assure you that there would have been a review, although it might not have been a positive one. So instead of waiting for EA's servers to play my single-player game, I will be playing Metal Gear Solid on my Vita... thank you very much.