updated 08:06 pm EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Re-release of popular franchise for modern hardware and OS
Sim City 4's original release on OS X had a bum rap, mostly as a virtue of timing. The first release, in 2003, was aimed at the PowerPC architecture, and games often got short shrift when Apple migrated to Intel. The title worked on Rosetta, but not well. In 2007, Aspyr released an Intel patch for the game, but it ran poorly, and crashed often. Surprisingly, last week, Aspyr re-released the game with more burly hardware requirements, but this time, Intel-optimized.
MacNN didn't review the game the first time around. However, given the debacle that the 2013 Sim City rebirth generated, the older title is now considered the bellwether of the series. It brought some simplifications to the franchise, mainly in power distribution, automatic road layout when laying out zones, and water piping, but not unwelcome ones.
We've has been experimenting with the new version since its release. The graphics remain the same, which is fine. The gameplay remains the same, which is also fine. We're not thrilled about the new minimum requirements, which spell out a Core-i series processor and fairly hefty graphics processing. This strikes us as a bit odd, considering the original title ran on a 500MHz G3.
Technically, we saw no crashes on a 2012 i7 MacBook Pro, or on a 2013 iMac, which is a far cry from the original PowerPC title, even before the Intel patch was issued. Yes, we think that the system requirements are steep, but this may have more to do with the OS requirement and code environment that Aspyr used to port the title, more than anything else.
Here's the thing -- the re-released Sim City 4 is true Sim City. There is no "always on" requirement, and no need to sign into a central server to manage your city. You'll never get connectivity issues marring your gameplay time, and some of the odder bugs in the new Sim City, such as very strange traffic routing, don't exist. We genuinely feel the older title is truer to the legacy Sim City experience than the newer one is.
As much as we want it to be, gaming isn't forever. Consoles die, computer OSes get upgraded, and games which run on the ragged edge of APIs fail to work as undocumented calls get patched or removed. Aspyr has put effort into this re-release of the game for the modern age, and it shows. As gamers, we should welcome this kind of project.