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SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition PC CD-ROM

Published by EA Games
Developed by Maxis
Released - 30th January 2004
Price : £34.99

Just over a year ago we saw the release of the fourth version of the classic SimCity series. Unlike SimCity 3000 though, which was very much a backward step, SimCity 4 was an excellent game and my personal favourite in the series. It introduced the idea of regions, that were made up of many cities/towns, and in doing so allowed for a deeper and more satisfying experience. Of course great games deserve an expansion and SimCity 4 had the Rush Hour expansion in the latter stages of 2003. This review looks at the forthcoming SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition which is comprised of SimCity 4 and the Rush Hour Expansion. In order to prevent this review from being absolutely massive you can read our review of SimCity 4 here. This review will look at the additions bought to the game by the Rush Hour expansion so if you don't yet own SimCity 4 then just read both the reviews.

Unless you've played SimCity 4 for a fair amount of time it's difficult to suggest what could have been added to take the game forward. The one area of the game that really did need extra options was transport and Maxis came up with plenty of options. You can now have a monorail, elevated rail systems which can also link to subways and for those tricky water crossings you can now use ferries. Thankfully double laned streets, known as avenues, have also been included and if you really want to fleece the rush hour traffic for every penny, you can even place toll booths although you have to bear in mind that this can annoy your sims and cause traffic delays. You can even build car parks next to your rail/subway stations to encourage you Sims to leave the car behind and take public transport whereas previously they would avoid it if it was too far from their house.

Fancy a drive around your city? Well now you can. It's not a first person view though as you drive the vehicles from the same view you normally have of the game. You control the vehicles with the cursor keys and whilst it's initially a little fiddly you can press the shift key to keep your vehicle bound to the road, which makes things a lot easier. Maxis have thrown plenty of activities in to keep you busy. In My Sim mode you'll find a new option, the U-Drive-It mode. Here you'll be able to take part in around 80 missions that are road, air or water based. Missions include simply driving from A to B or having to return a stolen bus etc. The missions are time based and successfully completing them will earn you a financial reward as well as improving your mayor rating. Of course not succeeding will lose you money and lower your mayor rating. You can also earn various reward buildings by successfully completing the missions. The U-Drive-It missions are good fun but they aren't going to hold your attention for long. Thankfully they are optional and you can take them or leave them.

You'll also find more feedback options that will help you have more control over your city. You can find out what your Sims are thinking by using the microphone tool, which can be found in My Sim mode. This will give you iconic feedback on your Sims' thoughts. Rather more useful is the ability to analyse the traffic patterns thanks to the new route query tool. Clicking the route query tool button and then clicking on a road will show you the current movements of the traffic. This enables you to see what modes of transport are being used and where potential choke points could occur. You can even see the patterns of the morning and evening commuters. This enables you to make effective modifications to your travel networks, which is excellent. You can even sign post and label areas of your city. Whilst you could effectively name every street in your city with these tools you can also use it to label areas of your city so that you don't forget what you originally planned to do in the early stages of your city.

As we mentioned in our review of SimCity 4, the graphics are now in full 3D and are all the better for it. One of the downsides to this is that you need a far greater PC specification than you needed for SimCity 3000. Performance was a real pain when SimCity 4 originally came out but thankfully the patches that Maxis released helped to make the game perform much better and right out of the box the Deluxe Edition isn't so much of a strain as the original release of SimCity 4. Of course there are quite a number of graphical options you can configure to suit a lower specification PC. If you haven't played SimCity 4 though you'll be impressed with the many environmental effects in the game and the disasters have never looked so impressive. It's also worth mentioning that you also have additional building styles now (there's Chicago 1890, Houston 1990, New York 1940 and Euro contemporary) and these can either be alternated every five years or all used at the same time.

Of course what you all want to know is how deaf gamer friendly is SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition and the short answer is, it's very friendly. All information is delivered by text or other visual means such as icons. You'll be visually alerted to anything that needs your attention and the interface has been designed so that you are always aware of what's going on. The whole system is far better than the ticker tape system that could be found in SimCity 3000. The manual is also worth a mention as it includes 80+ pages, which are actually quite useful and should help you to get started with the game. The in-game tutorials are also informative and useful. If you're purchasing the Rush Hour expansion, you'll be pleased to learn that new tutorials have been created to help you become accustomed to the new features.

There are not many deluxe editions that are really worth the money but the SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition is one of those rare ones that truly is magnificent. As a package it's pure gold and if don't own SimCity 4 then this is definitely a must own game and you'd be silly to pick up the original SimCity 4 when this deluxe edition can be bought instead. Although we never reviewed the Rush Hour expansion we have seen it's content in the SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition and in all honesty I couldn't play the original SimCity 4 without all of the wonderful extras that have been added to the game (in fact there have been extras added all over the place and we've probably missed a fair few out of this review). The various missions are not essential to the game but the extra travel options and the other extra tweaks that have been added only serve to improve what was already a classic game.

Overall Game Rating: 9.3/10
SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition is quite simply the finest SimCity product to date. Those who haven't purchased SimCity 4 will have themselves a terrific bargain with this package. Those who have purchased SimCity 4 but didn't purchase the Rush Hour expansion, which offers a real improvement to an already great game, need only buy the expansion as the Deluxe Edition is simply the marriage of the original game with the expansion.

Deaf Gamers comment:
The SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition is superb for deaf gamers. All feedback within the game is visual which is excellent.