Game Reviews

SimCity Deluxe

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SimCity Deluxe

There's something rather cosy about SimCity Deluxe – a distinct feeling that we've frequented this neighbourhood before.

That familiarity is no doubt a result of the game's PC heritage. After all, SimCity Deluxe is actually seven-year-old PC smash SimCity 4, deposited here in iPhone form with only the most minute of bells and whistles missing in action.

Yet it's that very decision to drag and drop SimCity 4 in its entirety that's the real cause of the déjà vu. EA Mobile performed a similar trick with the franchise's first iPhone outing and the results were the same: ambitious gameplay without the proper controls to make it work.

Rather than taking any grand steps forward or attempting to fit the franchise to its new found home, it's frustrating that this latest incarnation feels like it's missing the exact same component as its predecessor: a mouse.

Return trip

Controls aside, SimCity Deluxe is built from sturdy stuff. The aim, of course, is to create an environment where both business and industry thrive, which in turn allows your town's population to surge.

Achieving this urban sprawl means dividing your playtime into two main actions: zoning land for development and laying vital infrastructure to provide for the existing population survive and support growth.

Running a town is a costly business and you're taught early to curb your enthusiasm for lavish development. Managing your money is key, whether you're building up your city from scratch or taking on a scenario, which hands you the keys to an existing township with clearly defined objectives to complete.

The balance between charging enough taxes to ensure you have the funds to keep your city ticking over while keeping them low enough to stave off public anger is as tricky as it is in reality.

Road to nowhere?

SimCity Deluxe boasts a slew of small changes, though most are subtle. A greater array of buildings are available for construction and there's a wider variety of landscapes in which to set up home.

Weather effects also introduce flair, although seeing the ground turn white in the winter months adds little to gameplay. Quite frankly, such modifications don't fill in the cracks that threaten the game's foundations.

As hard as SimCity Deluxe tries, the screen is simply too small to facilitate a precise control scheme.

While zoning land is done with ease – dragging a finger diagonally across the grid is sufficient to cordon off an area for development – laying roads and water pipes is far too pernickety a process. Placing roads and pipes in the wrong squares purely because your fingers are blocking the view is all-too common a calamity.

Smoggy streets

It should be a perfect match: an especially fastidious setup for a game to be treasured if you have attention to detail tattooed on your heart. Disappointingly, the ill-suited controls turn from intuition to a painful reminder that not all is suited to the diminutive touchscreen.

Just because porting over mammoth titles of old is technically possible, that doesn't mean it should be done willy-nilly. SimCity Deluxe, much like Sega's Mega Drive efforts on iPhone before it, feels like a game out of its time – a fantastic title shackled by its new home.

There's little fault to be found with its content - even if it hardly evolves beyond the previous game - but the controls just aren't up to the task. If nothing else, EA's effort here serve to prove one thing: it's iPad, not iPhone, that should play host to the series.

SimCity Deluxe

An attempt to address the deficiencies of the first iPhone game, SimCity Deluxe is likewise hampered by controls that simply don't befit the device