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SimCity 4: Rush Hour Preview

publisher: EA
developer: Maxis
genre: Management

PIII 500, 128MB RAM, 16MB Video Card, 1GB HD
ESRB rating: E

release date: Sep 22, 03
» All About SimCity 4: Rush Hour on ActionTrip

How did Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger learn the ways of high politics and governing? By playing SimCity 4, how do you think? Seriously though, playing SimCity 4 is an extremely involving experience; it takes a great deal of time to build up and maintain the metropolis of your dreams. We're talking about one of the most complex and time-consuming management simulations out there. Striving to bring this game to a higher level, the creative team at Maxis was willing to share a few details with us on their upcoming expansion pack - SimCity 4: Rush Hour. We were able to dig up additional info about the new controllable transit system, visual enhancements, technical improvements and more.

Action Trip: How long has your team worked on Rush Hour?

Maxis: We have worked on SimCity 4 Rush Hour since its inception in January 2003. We had our first brainstorms while we were finalizing SimCity 4.

AT: SimCity 4 apparently generated great feedback when it was launched back in January. Are you pleased with the reactions from the game's ever-growing community?

M: We are very pleased with the positive reactions from SimCity fans and gamers. We really appreciate the feedback from our fans and take it into consideration. In fact, the fan's number one most requested feature was transportation, which is the focus of our first expansion pack, SimCity 4 Rush Hour.

AT: Many gamers have been complaining about the bugs in SimCity 4. The update fixed a few of these issues, but others remained. Will you tweak this once the add-on is released?

M: We released an update on the fan web site in February and another in April. The updates, which include technical fixes and improvements to performance, have been received very well by users and the community. Naturally, the team is dedicated to address any additional performance issues.

AT: Over 100 new structures seems like a lot to incorporate into a game that's already immensely complex. Do you think it might overstrain the game's system requirements (SimCity 4 itself requires a solid rig in order to work smoothly)?

M: We are working to get the best performance out of SimCity 4 Rush Hour. Performance is currently our top priority. In addition, we are continuing to provide users with more flexibility in their gameplay settings.

AT: One of the main changes over the previous game is the ability to take control of the Sims' vehicles and the city's transit system. Describe exactly how players will be able to control the vehicles and in what way will this impact the gameplay.

M: Players can immediately take direct control of dozens of vehicles in their city by clicking on a floating car icon and then using the keyboard and mouse to drive them around. You can either take them for a joy ride or you can use them to complete one of a plethora of missions. Some of the missions will unlock reward buildings and vehicles if a mission is completed successfully.

Missions will become available based on the simulator conditions within the city. So, for example a strike will need to occur before any of the strike missions become available. Then players can take control of the vehicle and solve the problem.

Players will also be able to choose good or evil missions where players can be a benevolent or a corrupt mayor. Players will be able to stop a strike by driving the mayor limo and throw money at the strikers or drive the tank to frighten the strikers into submission. (Hm, driving a tank straight through pickets - the only way to rule, baby! - Vadar)

When players complete good missions, they improve their mayor rating and desirability factors in the city. If players complete evil missions they will earn cash. But, their mayor rating will take a hit.

AT: I've truly come to admire the diversity of the architectural styles that were on display throughout the city districts. Give us more details about the new structural design you plan to showcase in the add-on.

M: The new architectural style is called European contemporary. It is primarily inspired by some of the modern skyscrapers found in Germany. These skyscrapers have a very polished steel and glass look, as well as very unique shapes. It was this uniqueness that drew us to the style. These European contemporary skyscrapers are some of the coolest buildings we have in the game.

AT: Does your development team intend to bring back some of elements from previous SimCity titles?

M: We are absolutely looking at the elements of previous SimCity titles. For instance we are bringing back the signpost tool and the bridge selection tool in SimCity 4: Rush Hour. Both of these options are inspired from fan feedback asking us to bring these features back.

We've added a cool new label tool that allows players to name mountains, lakes, and roads by placing text directly on the surface. Also, the bridge selection tool has been enhanced to not only allow players to choose bridges, but we're also providing dozens of new bridges to choose from.

AT: Can we expect any visual enhancements? Are you planning to input any changes to the existing game GUI?

M: There are lots of visual enhancements in SimCity 4 in terms of new content. The GUI has changed to accommodate the new UI elements, such as the new transportation networks, civic and reward buildings, missions, My Sim features, etc. The UI is still very intuitive and familiar.

AT: Will you be bringing any improvements or innovations to the game's multiplayer aspect?

M: Currently we don't have any new plans for the multiplayer.

AT: Thanks for you time. In the end, can give us an exact release projected for the game?

M: September 2003.



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