LGR – Streets of SimCity – PC Game Review
Everybody knows SimCity.
SimCity was great, SimCity is great,
SimCity will always be great.
And one of the best parts of the game
was not only being able to build a great city,
it was being able to destroy everything just as easily
as you’d created it, if not much easier.
Have you ever wanted to maybe
get a little bit more involved,
say down to street level and destroy that city?
Seriously, I mean when you look at your metropolis,
doesn’t it just make you want to strap rocket
launchers on a Volkswagen Bug hovercraft
and blow it up to cheesy rock music?
Heh, well, um…
Uh, well, that’s too bad because
enter Streets of SimCity,
the game that fulfilled the longing nobody had.
Apparently with Streets, you get
“mayhem in your metropolis.”
“Your city to cruise through or bruise through.”
What in the world? Why did Maxis make this?
They were known for open-ended
toy-like games like SimCity,
But then Streets comes along out of nowhere
with machine guns and oil slicks.
So let’s go back in time just a little bit.
In 1996, Maxis was in a very shaky position.
They had just released SimCity 2000
a couple of years before
and had hit their peak,
but things soon got stale.
The suits that had a stake in the company
pressured management for profits,
management pressured designers
into making new games,
and as part of this push, the company
was split into several specialty areas.
One was just plain old Maxis,
where new traditional games like
SimCity 3000 were to be made.
The next was Maxis Kids,
which made edutainment games for kids like SimTunes.
And the next was Maxis Sports,
which was going to make…
sports games, I guess.
This was the very short-lived branch of
Maxis that produced Streets of SimCity
and Streets of SimCity only.
It’s the only game to come out of the Sports line.
You may be asking,
Is blowing stuff up with cars a sport?
Well, this was the later half of the 1990s.
may as well have been the national pastime,
as far as game companies were concerned.
SimCopter was released not too long before Streets
and introduced the first Maxis 3D engine
where you could fly around cities
made in SimCity 2000.
It wasn’t a horrible game,
but it was rushed due to management’s
push for multiple games that year.
And it suffered because of it.
The result was ugly,
and not the slickest product to
come from Maxis, to be sure.
Streets of SimCity went ahead
and took that same game engine
and tweaked it a bit to make a driving game.
Streets starts you off with
one of the best installers ever,
which really sets the tone of the game.
The whole thing is set up like a
group of 1970s TV show episodes,
where the career is putting you through four of them
with no real clear overall goal in mind,
other than to earn money to go to the next episode.
These include destroying cars,
delivering packages, outrunning cops
and traditional circuit races.
Each part of the game has some
of that classic Maxis humor,
which really helps things out quite a bit,
since none of the races are particularly interesting.
The humor also bleeds over
into the in-car radio stations,
similar to what GTA III did years later.
It’s got spoof commercials, esoteric DJs
and lots of music,
some of which is extremely memorable
and was actually used in later games like The Sims.
[rock song plays]
And if you get bored of the radio
stations, you can make your own.
It even shows you how to do this
in the game’s extensive manual.
Like, really, this manual is big.
For no reason. It’s a really simple game.
This is easily the best parts of Streets:
You have five cars to choose from
and each of them can use custom paint jobs and parts,
and can be saved to your garage in the Car Factory.
Player’s Choice is a simple practice mode.
Here you can choose any SimCity 2000
map that come with the game
or one that you’ve made yourself.
It also comes with the SimCity 2000
Urban Renewal Kit program for making tracks,
and a race editor to add things like checkpoints.
And now to the gameplay itself.
It really comes down to an
open-world combat racing game
where you can drive anywhere within the city limits.
If you get damaged or need supplies,
you can pull up to a gas station to fill up.
Depending on your car’s abilities,
you can shoot down buildings, shoot other cars,
fly over mountains and generally act like a maniac.
It’s actually pretty darn fun
if you’re just messing around,
but in the career, it’s just a PAIN!
The driving model is horrific,
with your car spinning all
around without it ever really feeling
like you have a real handle on the car.
The opponents are completely
braindead, spastic and overall useless.
Weapons aren’t easy to use,
since there’s no way to aim,
other than aiming your car,
and the horrible handling just makes that worse.
On top of this, the game is absolutely
chock-full of bugs and glitches.
Sometimes you’ll appear on top of a building,
your opponents will go flying
through the air for no reason,
the road will launch you in the air.
The game is also very prone
to crashing the entire system.
If you have a Voodoo card,
you can run the game in 3dfx Glide mode.
Which is better than software mode,
but the game still looks like crap.
And it runs really choppily,
no matter which hardware you use
and what kind of processor you have.
But when you forget about all of that,
the game is an absolute blast.
There’s nothing quite like being able to fly around
like in “Back to the Future” in a city YOU built
then blow it all to pieces.
When you’re just going crazy and
exploring your cities, listening to music,
and generally not caring about the goals,
the game really is like nothing else.
I have many fond memories of this
game from when I was younger.
I still don’t know why I like it.
It’s horrible, really.
But this is a shining example of
a game that’s so bad, it is good.
It’s nothing close to other games, like Interstate ’76,
which it is clearly ripping off.
But it’s lots of fun in its own light,
no matter how bad the graphics are,
how bad the cars handle,
and how many times it just bugs out on you.
The atmosphere is also pretty depressing and desolate,
especially with the music off. I like that.
There are only a couple of pedestrians
and cows wandering around,
so it feels kind of like a post-
apocalyptic nightmare landscape
and it even gets better
if you play some ambient music in the background.
Streets of SimCity was a commercial and critical failure.
It is NOT a good racing game by any means.
But if you don’t think about
it as such, and instead just…
don’t let yourself think AT ALL,
it’s stupid fun.
You can find it pretty easily
and very cheaply nowadays,
and it’s a must-have for Maxis collectors,
if only because it’s the last game Maxis made
before they were taken over by EA.
Streets of SimCity is just awful.
And that is why I wholeheartedly recommend it.