I have always been a huge SimCity fan and played every single version religiously up until SimCity 4, which is the undoubtedly the greatest city building game in existence, still enjoyed and modded by hundreds of thousands of players. That's the one that made EA think that the gameplay got too complicated and that people were basically too dumb to figure it out, so for the next installment of the series they wanted something easier and hired a 3rd party developer to throw it together. What a great premise for a game, right? Well, that's how SimCity Societies came to be.
With SimCity Societies they got rid of the original gameplay mechanics that made SimCity great. There were no residential, commercial and industrial zones any more and you had to plop buildings instead of watching them grow, which took away all the excitement and challenge from the game. I also have to mention the horrendous graphics, but that's really a minuscule issue compared to the fact that the game has no point whatsoever.
After the 2007 blunder of SimCity Societies everyone thought that the series were essentially dead. Monte Cristo came to the rescue of hardcore fans by announcing they would create the city building experience everyone wanted, but eventually they failed to deliver on their promise with their game called Cities XL. Maybe they should've listened to the players and instead of working on the multiplayer aspect of the game that nobody wanted in the first place (and had to be shut down due to lack of interest) they should have focused on features that people did want. Cities XL is still alive, but the franchise is now owned by Focus Home Interactive. Not very exciting though.
What's a lot more exciting is that just recently EA announced that Maxis (the original developer of the SimCity series) is finally working on a new SimCity game, and according to them it's going to be true to its roots and it's going to be the best SimCity game ever. The game apparently won't come out until 2013. Although I'm very excited about it, I'll gladly wait if that means they will do a great job without rushing it. I tend to be a little suspicious about this when it comes to EA. That having said, this announcement is nothing short of a miracle all by itself.
Since the new game is only going to be published next year, there's not a lot of info out there yet. Some tech demos showing the capabilities of the new game engine are pouring in though, and they look promising. I also love the concept art, it would be great to see nicely designed buildings instead of ugly blocky stuff for a change, new hardware should have no problems handling this level of detail.
Here is some more concept art from the game:
Visit the official SimCity site here.