The SimCity Box review
Available for
PC
Publisher
Electronic Arts
The SimCity Box

Reviewed by Jason Thompson

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ometimes you have to get personal in a review. Throw all that “objectivity” out the window and report the personalized truth of the matter. This is one of those times. You see, “The SimCity Box” should be a cause for celebration for those of us who haven’t yet played the latest “SimCity Societies” and its first expansion pack “Destinations,” but it isn’t. Instead, for a number of gamers, it will be a gigantic pain in the ass that will lead to absolutely no enjoyment and hours of frustration. And it’s all thanks to a disc glitch and a lousy update patch.

Upon installing “SimCity Societies,” you have the option to check for updates on the Web for the game. There’s recently been a new patch released, so I grabbed it and tried to apply it before starting my game, because like anyone else, I wanted to be able to enjoy it in its most up to date configuration. Much to my dismay, the patch wouldn’t install. So off to the game’s official online forums I went, to see how to fix this problem, only to find a bunch of other gamers like me in the same situation. Unfortunately, they weren’t getting any answers that were correctly fixing this problem. I checked out all the suggested “solutions” myself and tried them one at a time, and sure enough, no luck. Terrific.

It was disheartening to read various posts where gamers had said they had picked up this box only to be still trying to successfully install the damn thing two hours later with no luck. So what, then? You need a patch for the patch? The next question, then, is does anyone in the testing labs over at EA actually make sure these updates successfully work before sending them out to the public? I was lucky; I got my review copy for free, so I was out nothing, but you have to consider all the people who do buy their games and are stuck with that bullshit store policy of not being able to return an open piece of software unless you just want to exchange it for the same thing. What are they to do? Just suck it up and sit on their games until another patch is released a few months down the line? Who wants to play the game then?

At any rate, I decided to just play the game without the patch. It installed just fine and started up. I elected to play the tutorial to learn the ropes. It got to the loading screen and just hung there for a while. I thought maybe there was some gunk on the disc or the lens was dirty on the drive, so I checked for gunk, cleaned the lens and rebooted. Started up the game again. This time it got to the first part of the tutorial section, where it told me to click a button at the bottom of the screen. I tried to, but the game was hanging again, causing a complete system lockup. Now, my system can run this game no problem and there was no gunk on the disc and the drive’s lens was clean. So I gave it one more shot. A reboot and a relaunch and -- the game hung at its loading screen and locked up the system once again.

I had had enough.

It’s obvious that I and other people cannot play this game. Again, the draw of the collection is the “SimCity Societies” title. Sure, “SimCity 4” and its expansion pack “Rush Hour” are also included here, but those are years old and available separately for a good price – buying them instead of this joke is a much preferred solution if you don’t have those games and want to play them. There’s also the pointless “The Sims Carnival Snap City” puzzle game, and a trial version of “Spore Creature Creator” tacked on. But wait, isn’t that last item readily available to download online? So there’s another reason not to buy this collection.

It’d be nice to think I just got a bum copy of the game and I could eventually enjoy it in some form or fashion, but after seeing the numbers of other people experiencing the same problems, this isn’t just a “one in X amount” account. “The SimCity Box” is, by and large, a complete failure. Save your cash if you want to avoid utter frustration, as you won’t be able to get it back. And for those who have miraculously been able to play this thing, more power to you.

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