SimCity 4: Rush Hour

Review

posted 10/13/2003 by Randy Kalista
other articles by Randy Kalista
One Page Platforms: PC
I would have run the suggestion right off the road during the first SimCity 4 brainstorming session. There’s no way for you to convince me that marketing an expansion pack centered on traffic flow (of all things) would add up to anything more than a laughable proposition.

Of course, come employee evaluation time in the Maxis offices, I would have been passed up for promotion and duly sent out on a coffee run during the next meeting. Why? Because the idea worked. The Rush Hour team (not to be confused with Jackie Chan and Chris Rock) took a decidedly tedious aspect of SimCity and made it more accessible and, more importantly, more fun. Essentially providing two expansion packs in one, the game comes equipped with a fresh catalog of transportation and building options, and new U-Drive-ItTM scenarios.

Within SimCity, transportation networking had proven itself to be an enigmatic process. Beyond the somewhat dull cross-hatching of streets and country roads, I’d always found myself at a loss when trying to implement the myriad of other transit possibilities. I build bus stations: no one rides them. I build train stations: no one rides those either. I build subways and can’t even come up with a decent sandwich joke. But Rush Hour offers a quick and painless tutorial extension that ties in with a valuably hint-laced manual. There are three difficulty settings that will have your city either burgeoning with ready cash flow and rapid construction, or pushing your blood pressure toward redline.


Our favorite Maxis employees demonstrate the new traffic grid.

The perplexing world of mass transit can finally be grasped due in large part to a new Route Query tool. Click on a building and you’ll see the routes taken to and from that location. Click on any transportation network and you’ll see a rainbow of arrows indicating where, how, and even when your Sims go. Yes, the volume of traffic increases during rush hour. Even to the point where vehicle accidents become a serious problem if road congestion isn’t cleared up. The sign tool makes a welcome comeback from previous SimCity versions, along with an attractive map-labeling tool that would make Rand McNally proud.

Rush Hour introduces lovely four-lane avenues, and ground-level highways and t-intersections for your interstate-making pleasure. Ever experience the gut-wrenching realization you’ve taken a wrong turn down a one-way street? Recreate that feeling for your Sims by outlining one-way roads through particularly dense sections of town. Or if you’re short on cash but willing to lengthen commute times, throw in a toll booth for good measure. For the conductor at heart, they’ve added a grand railroad station, high speed monorails, and elevated railways. You can now head the design team for the next bridge to be built, or you can skimp on costs and establish a ferry system for passengers and vehicles. Leaning completely towards aesthetics, your mayoral powers now allow you to steer the architectural design of your city: Chicago circa 1890, New York 1940s, Houston in the ‘90s, or Euro Contemporary.
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