SimCity: Complete Edition is a glorious, city-building time suck

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Lose yourself in a city of your own making. Photo: Electronic Arts
Lose yourself in a city of your own making. Photo: Electronic Arts

I launched SimCity: Complete Edition last night at around 8 p.m. I played around with my new city, getting a feel for the controls, zoning for residences, commercial ventures and industrial centers.

I zoomed in and out to get up-close and bird’s-eye views of my own private Idaho (well, Squifton, if we’re being literal). I checked out the various data views, gave my city police buildings and power, water and fire departments. I added parks, more residential areas, roads and even created a neighboring city — a sleepy little hamlet that purchases power and water from the main city. Just a quick little foray into a game that I’ve been itching to play.

When I glanced up at the clock, it was three hours later.

This is the zen-like flow state that we all crave when playing games, real or virtual. When you can spend three hours loving what you’re doing, unaware of even the passage of time, you know you’ve got a game that will keep you hooked.

The release of SimCity 4 in 2013 marked a troubled moment for game publisher Electronic Arts, with server issues keeping Mac owners away from the city-building simulator.

These issues had been cleared up by the time SimCity 4 Deluxe came out the following year, and I saw no problems whatsoever with SimCity: Complete Edition, the latest and most up-to-date version of EA and Maxis’ fourth iteration of the seminal game.

You’ll create a city from scratch, adding roads, power plants and water towers to encourage little Sims to move into your thriving town, which can become a bustling metropolis in just a few hours of gameplay. It’s a joy to see your small trailer houses become massive estates as you place the residential zones around wealth-building attractions like megaparks and other land-value-enhancing stuff. You’ll get quests to plop down various types of buildings, you can build several cities in one general area to experiment with your own wild ideas about urban planning, and you can then unleash various fun “natural” disasters, like earthquakes, tornadoes or giant lizards.

If your idea of a fun night includes finding the zone in a city you build on your own, SimCity: Complete is the game for you, as it contains the original 2013 base game along with the existing expansion packs: Cities of Tomorrow, Amusement Park, Airship Set, Heroes and Villains, and the German, British, and French City sets to round out the global perspective. They all seem to speak Simglish, however.

You can grab a copy of SimCity: Complete Edition for $40 in the Mac App Store.