Thanks Dirk for the well written review, and thank you also to MaxisGuillame for your comments and replies and insights. I think that at least shows that Maxis is at least aware that there are a number of die hard SimCity fans out there, who have been waiting for years for SimCity 5, and are more than a little disappointed with what they've been seeing about this new game. Personally, I'm still unsure. I might eventually get the game, but I've never been an early adopter, and I'm sure I'll wait until the major technical bugs have been sorted out and the first expansion packs released before buying anything.
There's a lot to be disappointed about with this game, for sure. In the 15+ years I've been playing various SimCity titles, this is the first one that I haven't been all that excited to get my hands on. The small city size and lack of terraforming are annoying, for one. Both seem like very big steps backwards. Especially since SC4Terraformer has shown that large scales terraforming is possible, and Cire360 seemed to have figured out regional play that eliminated set city sizes altogether in his own offshoot game - so I can't believe these are technical limitations that Maxis can't figure out.
The cartoony visual style and unrealistic images we've seen so far are another big miss. Some of the pictures produced in MD's/CJ's could pass for lightly photoshopped real world photos. This new game could pass for a kid's TV show at best. Similarly with the sparse and hyper-suburban cities we've seen so far - not everyone enjoys this style of city, in fact it's probably safe to say that most SC4 players prefer the opposite. This, along with the numerous oddities of the proposed transportation systems, they at least are working on.
The dead space around the edges of cities reminds me of the "neighbors" from SC2K and SC3K, frustratingly useless at best. I understand it's usefulness from a multiplayer standpoint, but there has to be a better solution. Speaking of multiplayer - OK, sometimes that might be fun. Required multiplayer - hell no! Not to mention the nightmare that multiplayer causes for customization. Functioning multiplayer is something that SimCity has never had, and it might open up a lot of possibilities (i.e. tournaments), but maintaining it as a requirement, or even simply the impact it will have on single-player regions in terms of game format (for example the dead spaces), should alone ensure SC4 will continue to thrive. The requirement to always be online is another killer for the game, for the countless reasons that have been mentioned by so many people.
Other items though are really promising. Glassbox, for one, sounds amazing, and I think it would be fun to play around with regardless of what you're simulating. The idea of the agents and networks, and a what you see is what's actually happening approach strike me as major improvements over the previous games. Likewise the conversion to full 3D (finally!) and the moving camera angles. These, among others, leave me with the idea that the game at least has a solid foundation. It may take them a few iterations of these concepts to get a game that plays as well as SC4, but we can always hope it comes sooner rather than later.
I think the idea I'm getting at this point is largely that this game will not replace, but perhaps supplement SC4. While SC4 may be our passion, we all have other games we play from time to time. Sometimes it's fun to just go online and play some cheesy flash games, and I see this as falling more into that category of game. Eventually it may evolve into a standalone masterpiece game such as SC4, but it seems pretty clear at this point that that won't be what we get in 2013.