SimCity 4: Rush Hour

Review

posted 10/13/2003 by Randy Kalista
other articles by Randy Kalista
One Page Platforms: PC
And what SimCity would be complete without a lesson in anger management? Take the aptly named Autosaurus Wrecks out for a leisurely stroll through the town and see the sites. Do you think the movie Independence Day is overdue for a sequel? Call in an alien mothership that would send Will Smith running back to the safety of a fizzled rap career.

The action in Rush Hour plays out during the U-Drive-ItTM scenarios. If you’re no longer content to delegate from behind a desk then you can strap into the driver’s seat of 80+ missions that take you down to street-level. This is where we leave the simulation purists behind. Completing missions is now prerequisite for unlocking several newly introduced structures (like the Grand Railroad Station or the Space Port) but also for some more commonplace buildings (such as City Hall or a cemetery). For those with admittedly low hand-eye coordination, this will establish a seemingly needless barrier in fulfilling your city-building strategies. If you appreciate and comply with the change of gameplay, new popularity and money-making methods are at your disposal. Virtually every mission comes with two options: take the good guy route to have your mayor approval ratings boost and possibly unlock a new building; take the bad guy route (sponsored by the insidious Dr. Vu) and you’re given the opportunity to fatten the city’s treasury—if you don’t mind your inevitable drop in the public opinion polls. Of course, failing a mission will apply minuses to your popularity and/or cash account.

Taking on a mission let’s you truly appreciate (or wholly despise) the efforts you’ve placed into your transportation networking. While entertaining at first, this entire mode of gameplay is fairly awkward. Cars appear and disappear in front, behind, or on top of you. Navigating between tall structures removes the actual street from your line of sight, but has your vehicle coast along a superimposed route overtop all the buildings—which is in addition to the frame rate growing choppy at times. Since the missions zoom you all the way in, I hope you’ve taken time to fix the innumerable dead-ends that the auto road-building function creates. With a mini-onscreen map that is too small to be useful, you could find yourself running out of road quickly.

There are worthy additions to the building line up for your city, not just your transportation network. It is also fair to note that Rush Hour goes above and beyond the call of duty for a standard expansion pack by providing an entirely new gaming avenue. Unfortunately, the U-Drive-ItTM scenarios fall prey to a somewhat clumsy format. For those willing to get more interactive, that fact won’t deter this expansion’s attractiveness. But for the simulation purists, I recommend you steer clear from that section of Rush Hour.


B-
Maxis delivers an excellent expansion that not only extends the life of the game, but adds an entirely new gameplay aspect. A great addition if you're a fan of the original who is looking for some more action.


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