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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Simulation    Expansion For: SimCity 4
Min OS X: 10.2.8    CPU: G4 @ 700 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 2000 MB    8x CD-ROM    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

SimCity 4: Rush Hour
September 29, 2004 | Michael Yanovich

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I still remember the day, back in the mid 80ís or so, that a friend of mine told me about this new city building game. ďYou have to zone for industrial vs. residential development, and make sure there are power lines and water pipes everywhere. And roads.Ē

Yeah. That game sounded like a load of fun.

In real life, people had to be paid to handle these situations, but gee, I canít wait to be able to do it for free in a not-real city.

Now, a couple of decades later, I freely admit my premature sarcasm was undeserved. The SimCity franchise is on its fourth set of legs and is as mind-numbingly addictive as ever. Heck, if this game caused cancer and was available to children in convenience stores, weíd be able to sue Maxis for BILLIONS! Sadly for our pocketbooks, the game is perfectly safe, though direct links can be established between SimCity gaming and a profound lack of sleep. ďIíll go to bed as soon as the city builds me a statue in my image!Ē

Well, by now most gamers are well familiar with the SimCity franchise, and SimCity 4 has been around on the Mac for many moons. Now, enter the first expansion pack for the SimCity series, SimCity 4 Rush Hour.

This expansion pack is as close to truth in advertising as you can get. SC4RH doesnít affect most aspects of SimCity 4. It adds a few enhancements here and there, but focuses primarily on one of the biggest problems to plague just about any modern city: traffic.

Are We There Yet?
First and foremost are the new mass transportation choices available in the game. Canít afford to build an expensive bridge across the river that cuts your city into two distinct zones: the northern bank voting with the red states and the southern bank voting with the blue states? Swim no more! Now you can build a passenger and/or automobile ferry to shuttle your peeps from point A to point B.

Tired of zipping people around on traffic-clogging trains? Build an elevated rail system -- just like Chicagoís El tracks -- and connect it to your underground subway system. Or, go the high tech (and high expense) route and give your city a monorail. (And if you can figure out the difference between elevated rail and monorail systems, please let me know. The ideal uses are not well explained.)

New street types are also available. Ground level highways lower the cost of freeways, but mean you have to build overpasses to allow surface street traffic through. Also, double-wide avenues can be placed in high traffic areas to help ease congestion.

My one complaint about the transportation options isnít what has been added (itís all good, folks), itís what hasnít been fixed. Sometimes, it can be VERY difficult adding some items. For example, try building a curve in a freeway (good luck!), or connecting subway stations that arenít in an exactly straight line from one another. Iíd hoped that an expansion pack that is meant to focus on transportation make these situations easier. It can also be very hard to tell if subway tracks are actually connected. Why there isnít a command that allows you to mark two subway stations and have a line automatically built between them is beyond me. And yes, this problem extends to elevated tracks and monorail lines, too.

This problem extends to adding some items like the new ferry stations, or pre-existing items like beaches, that require you to place them on part land, part water. It took me 5 minutes to find a suitable place for my first ferry dock, with lots of click-and-pray and heavy item rotation until I just got lucky. I was hoping this long-standing problem would have been addressed, but itís as tough as ever getting some of these items working.


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