SimCity: Cities of Tomorrow moves the city-builder forward with an interesting new layer of interdependent systems.
The thing about OmegaCo and the Academy, however, is that although they are supposed to be futuristic, they don’t feel all that different from existing specializations. OmegaCo uses oil and ore to manufacture the addictive mystery substance Omega, so the city I built around it was basically a hybrid mining-drilling city except with more neon lights. The Academy, on the other hand, works similarly to the university in that it converts nearby industry to high tech, and the Academy city I built looked a lot like a typical “green” education-focused city. (Side note: the Academy requires high-wealth workers instead of educated ones, which I found to be a bit weird.)
My cities didn’t start to feel new until I incorporated the third but by far most interesting specialization, MegaTowers. They’re enormous skyscrapers that you build one level at a time, and because levels can be dedicated to anything from apartments to offices to parks to new technologies, you can customize them to fit your cities’ needs. They don’t make cities physically larger (the small lot size remains woefully unaddressed), but they do let you build up instead of out and can hold large populations, leaving you more space for other things. Plus, if you plan them right, they can even be completely self-sustaining. That way, the Sims living there never have to leave (insert evil mayoral laughter here) and therefore won’t clog up already congested roads. Staying inside forever is the way of the future!
After being stuck behind menu screens, unmanageable traffic, and general bugginess for quite some time, SimCity is finally moving forward. Cities of Tomorrow provides plenty to remind returning ones what SimCity is capable of, and it’s certainly something to behold. Some parts of the future are stuck in the past, but it’s strikingly well-balanced, providing solutions for existing problems and new toys to tinker with that counteract each other nicely.