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Cover art for the U.S. version of SimCity 3000
|Release date(s)||January 31, 1999|
|Genre(s)||Construction and management simulation, city-building|
SimCity 3000 (SC3K) is a city building simulation personal computer game released in 1999, and the third major installment in the SimCity series. It was published by Electronic Arts (EA) and developed by series creator Maxis, a wholly owned subsidiary of EA. It was released for Windows, Macintosh, and, through an arrangement with Loki Games, Linux. As of 2016 this is the only Windows based SimCity game that cannot be obtained through commercial online digital distribution.
Gameplay and changes from SimCity 2000
There are many changes between SimCity 3000 and its immediate predecessor SimCity 2000 (SC2K). These changes span both the integral city management aspects of the game, as well as its graphical and landscape aspects. More and newer city services are featured. These changes create a greatly different experience from that of SC2K.
The most notable change is the addition of the concept of waste management. In SC3K, garbage begins to accumulate when the city grows to a medium size, and must be disposed of at the expense of the city. Farms and agricultural structures are also introduced, appearing on large light industrial zones in a city with low land value and little pollution. A new zoning density was also added, totaling three densities, compared to SC2K's two. In addition to their limited life span, power plants and other utility buildings were also made vulnerable to decreasing maximum output due to age. All power plants have a life span compared to SimCity 2000, which has two power plants which never need to be replaced. The power plants now have to be manually replaced, even if the disaster setting is turned off. Additionally, the water facilities now have a life span.
Although the concept of neighbor cities was introduced in SC2K, it was greatly expanded upon in SC3K. New for players is interaction with neighbouring cities, negotiating rudimentary business deals with other mayors, such as the sale or purchase of water, electricity or waste management services. These generate a monthly charge which is either added to or deducted from the player's treasury, in accordance with the deal. Canceling a neighbor deal would incur a penalty.
Although not strictly a city management aspect, SimCity 3000 simulates the effect of land value on construction much more realistically than in SimCity 2000. In SC3K, land value creates very distinct neighborhoods which tend to contain narrow income bands, creating well-defined slums, middle class areas, and wealthy areas. Land value is also determined by the city center effect where buildings that are at the city center have higher land values and those buildings on the borders have lower land values.
Business deals were another new concept to SC3K; by allowing certain structures, such as a Maximum Security Prison, to be built within the city, the player can receive a substantial amount of funds from them. Business deal structures, however, tend to have negative effects on the city, such as reduced land value.
There are several changes to the graphical interface in SC3K. Although the game retains the pseudo-isometric dimetric perspective of its predecessor, the actual landscape became more complex and colorful. In SimCity and SC2K, the playable landscape is mostly brown, while in SC3K, the playable landscape is a more realistic green color, along with other colors that progressively change by height, from beige (beach sand) to green to brown (bare ground) to white (snow). In SC2K, land could either be flat or sloped, and all slopes were of the same steepness. In SC3K, there are five distinct steepness of slope, creating more varied landscapes. There are different types of trees which can appear on the playable map, ranging from small, Deciduous trees to towering Redwoods.
Advisors and petitioners
SimCity 3000 and its revision, Unlimited, feature seven advisors, each covering a specific issue (city finances, transportation, environmental issues, city planning, safety, health and education, and city utilities), who help players make proper decisions in the game by providing recommendations and advice. As opposed to previous versions of SimCity, these advisors have names and actually give in-depth advice, rather than brief summaries of the situation in their department.
There are also petitioners, many of whom are citizens of the city, that request players to modify city policies, such as lowering tax rates, or enacting an ordinance. Some are outside interests, often pushing proposals which would harm the city (i.e. building a casino, which would attract crime) in exchange for a boost to its financial coffers. The mayors of the four cities neighboring at each of the edges of the city's map (a feature carried over from SimCity 2000) also chime in if the player's city is connected to them by road or rail, to request that the player's city handle their city services (trash disposal, water, power, etc.) in exchange for financial compensation, or offer that the neighbor handles the city services for the player's city in exchange for a fee.
In addition to advisors, a news ticker scrolls along the bottom of the screen, displaying pertinent information about the city in the form of news stories, such as indicating that the city needs more schools, or how well a particular city department is functioning. Generally, when things were going very well in a city, the news ticker would display headlines which are comical, or even nonsensical and often seemingly useless to the player. Examples of such headlines being: "After 36 years of marriage, man discovers wife to be form of rare yucca plant,"or "(City Name) prints all wrong numbers in phone book, leads to 15 marriages" or quotes from a "Tommy B. Saif." Other headlines may be labeled "(City Name) News Ticker" or "From the Desk of Wise Guy Sammy". On occasions, the ticker will even provide a foreshadowing of an approaching disaster, for example, sometimes reading "Did you feel that big truck pass by? What? It wasn't a truck?", or "Mrs. SimLeary buys prize-winning cow", or perhaps another quote from a set range of different headlines before a disaster occurs. The text in the ticker can then be clicked to reveal more about the news item.
Real world landmarks are also introduced in SimCity 3000, but are mostly for aesthetic purposes (though placing a building would open up an option in the city ordinances window for tourism advertising), and are free of construction cost. Examples of landmarks featured in the original SC3K include the Parthenon, the CN Tower, Notre Dame, the Bank of China Tower, the Empire State Building, the Pharos of Alexandria and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center with each tower a separate building, the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and even the Fernsehturm TV Tower in Berlin.
Another major change from SC2K is the addition of a live music score composed by Jerry Martin. The new soundtrack incorporates new-age and live jazz songs. The fifteen tracks from the game are also available as MP3s for download on EA's SC3K website for listening outside of the game. The jazz musicians are Vincent Herring on alto and tenor saxes, Ryan Kisor on trumpet, Joey Calderazzo on piano, the late Dwayne Burno on double bass, and Jeff Hamilton on drums.
Prior to the acquisition of Sim developer Maxis by Electronic Arts in 1997, plans were originally made in 1996 to develop SimCity 3000 as a fully 3D game, in tune with the emergence (at the time) of 3D computer and video games. Although the idea was deemed impractical by employees for being too graphically demanding, Maxis management pushed for the concept, and the game was developed for a year. A pre-release screenshot of the original version suggests graphics similar to those seen in both SimCopter and Streets of SimCity, and was intended to include extensive micromanagement. When the game was first unveiled in the 1997 E3, it was "an experience still regarded as an embarrassment." The 3D version of the game was expected to become a flop, and its future release was even thought to be the fatal blow to an already poorly performing Maxis, which had failed to release profitable titles in the years since SimCity 2000.
After EA completed acquisition of Maxis, Luc Barthelet was assigned by EA as the new general manager of Maxis. He was troubled by the 3D SC3K, questioning the viability of a game with such graphics. Eventually, the 3D version was completely scrapped, Lucy Bradshaw was brought in from EA in November 1997 to lead the SC3K project, and a new revision based on SC2K's pseudo-isometric dimetric projection and sprite-based graphics was redeveloped from scratch. The new plan focused on retaining the core engine of the game, improving more minor features in the game instead, such as larger maps, new zoom levels, and additional gameplay parameters.
The second version of SC3K would receive a more positive reception during its appearance in 1998 E3, and was well-received after its release in January 1999 (although Maxis originally intended the game to be released by Christmas 1998; regardless, EA willingly waited until the game was completed).
In 2000, the game was re-released under different names in different regions, such as SimCity 3000 Unlimited (in North America and Oceania), SimCity 3000 Deutschland (Germany), SimCity 3000 UK Edition (UK & Ireland) and SimCity 3000 World Edition (other countries), among others. This added, among other things, East Asian and European building sets, additional terrain colors and vegetation types, a snapshot feature, additional music, an improved version of the Building Architect Tool (a pseudo-3D design tool based on cubes), four additional disasters (such as locusts and space junk), additional landmarks (like the Seoul Tower and Helsinki Cathedral), new reward buildings, thirteen scenarios (along with an editor based on Microsoft Access) and a new FMV intro. Premade cities are also available, including (London and Liverpool for the UK), Berlin (with the Berlin Wall), Madison, Madrid, Moscow and Seoul. The game also includes city terrains based on the geography of real cities, including Hong Kong and Chicago. At the time of the game's release, EA launched a website for Simcity 3000 Unlimited which allowed users to exchange their creations. The site, formerly located at www.simcity.com/us/exchange/ (for North American territories), is no longer available and can only be accessed with an archiving tool.
Like the SCURK for SimCity 2000, SimCity 3000 has its own building modifier called the BAT (Building Architect Tool). BAT is based on the idea of 2 meter building blocks stacked in a 2.5D graphic environment. All buildings have 4 distinct sides to be seen in the game, so SCURK's strictly 2D approach was not possible.
A library of building texture sets are provided that allow the builder to paint the stack of blocks in a flexible and realistically scaled way. (These texture sets themselves are customizable.) Later BAT Plus was introduced with the ability to add non-block props to buildings, and to import customized props as well (and in effect, over-riding the 2m building block once and for all).
Despite the huge amount of buildings and artists involved with the BAT (over 50,000 buildings have been uploaded to the SimCity3000Unlimited web site at EA.com), some feel that it has not gained the cult-status the SCURK has. Another criticism is that SimCity 3000 did not allow people to create and edit cities by placing buildings independently of the simulation, unlike the SCURK's city editor.
SimCity 3000 received positive reviews. IGN gave it a 9.0, praising sound, gameplay, graphics, and lasting appeal. GameSpot gave it an 8.5 and praised its graphics while criticizing the adviser system. SimCity 3000 Unlimited has also gained critical acclaim with IGN giving it a 9.1 praising its presentation and graphics.
SimCity 3000 has sold 5 million copies worldwide.
SimCity DS is a heavily modified version of SimCity 3000 for the Nintendo DS released in Japan on February 22, 2007, North America on June 19, 2007 and Europe on June 22, 2007. The game inherits SC3K's graphics, but makes use of the handheld's dual screens to display additional interfaces at once. Console-specific features are also included, such as the use of the console's integrated microphone, which is used to blow out fires, and the touchscreen, which is used to control the interface. The game also features a "Save the City" mode, in which the player must help one of several cities recover from a disaster and reach a specific target to succeed.
iPhone and iPod Touch
A version of SimCity 3000, known simply as SimCity for iPhone, was released in 2008 for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Unlike SimCity DS, this version is a port of the original game modified only to use the touchscreen user interface. The iPhone version is missing many features, however, including inter-city relations or multiple road types. It was removed from the App Store in 2011.
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- SimCity 3000 at the Wayback Machine (archived April 21, 1999)