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SimCity 2013 - as realistic as the screenshots?

As some of you might know, a new rendition of SimCity is coming out on March the 5th. After a momentary hype from the exclusively released beta, people are starting to see how detailed this age old simulation game has come.

SimCity 2013 architectural forms realistic

Without sounding like an old man (unsuccessfully), when I was a young boy, SimCity was pretty awesome if a bit simplistic. I remember little black rectangles ('cars') marching along streets and thinking they were ants. In SimCity 3000, cars were already moving around with more automation - car crashes, traffic jams (tut tut, Mr Mayor), you name it - and by the time SimCity 4 came out, there were mini-game missions where you had to drive to different places, a great test of how extensive your road network had become. Graphics were also much more polished.

SimCity 2013 industrial smog graphics

Screenshots from this latest Simcity promise not only a much more insightful urban simulation, but graphics to be reckoned with. The producers seem to have upped their game  (excuse the pun), allowing different conditions to be shown atmospherically and in perspective (I think) - take an industrial town for example, you can't beat the smog to tell you there's air pollution.

SimCity 2013 urban design urbanism character

A plethora of architectural forms beckons toward the urbanism of today - terraced housing, skyrise apartments, a range of medium rise. Strangely, towns in the screenshots seem oddly familiar, as if it wasn't a scene taken from a game, but from a real town with its own character. Urban design is really taking off these days and it's not only about the practical stuff. A sense of place is crucial to urban schemes and I'd be interested to see how a game with a limited palette of predefined items can make it seem like this is happening.

SimCity 2013 simulation depth realism

Of course, urban design in real life isn't really like SimCity. Although it is more entertainment oriented, there is a lot to be taken from this approach in our understanding of cities (see my blog about laypeople's understanding of architecture). Real urban design/planning is a lot of analysis and space creation - you have to have an in-depth understanding of people and society to create spaces for them. Games like this are completely out of context of course, no boundaries, a sandpit for creativity. So go wild!

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