Temple commuters may want to avoid SimCity 4 Deluxe.
The game, the latest in the venerable SimCity franchise, throws traffic jams, crowded buses and late subways in the path of you, the harried mayor.
Playing may send visions of SEPTA and jackknifed tractor trailers on I-95 dancing through you head.
But don’t let that stop you from playing. Like its predecessors, SimCity 4 has built on the previous games with new features that make running your very own metropolis more hair-pulling – and fun – than ever.
In SimCity 3000 (the third game), that meant adding ways to actually run a city in the black without resorting to cheat codes. In the “deluxe” version of SimCity 4, it means traffic, and lots of it.
This version includes SimCity 4 and its Rush Hour expansion pack, which is responsible for the new mass transit and transportation options.
At its heart, the SimCity series has always been about running a city while keeping your minions… I mean citizens (Sims), happy. Give them jobs, schools and parks and they will be happy.
Well, as long as there is no pollution, taxes aren’t too high and space aliens aren’t running willy-nilly across the city, abducting as they please.
Yeah, the Sims whine a lot. They gripe about everything from crime to laws against smoking. And traffic, they are always complaining about traffic, but there was never much you could do about it.
Transit has always been a weak point in the series, with roads, highways, trains and subways comprising the only decent ways to get your Sims to and from their lousy jobs. They complained about traffic jams, but there wasn’t much you could do.
Until now. With SimCity 4 and its expansion, the sky is literally the limit.
Although you can’t give your Sims their own helicopters, you can provide pretty much any other thing you can think of. Want to recreate the Market-Frankford El? No problem with elevated trains.
Ferryboats provide an option for those wanting to avoid bridge jam-ups, and there is even a monorail (cue Simpson’s musical number now).
The game also includes wider avenues, one-way streets and other exciting traffic routing options.
Avenues, ferries and subways. Great. So why should you care?
Because you get to be God.
In SimCity, being mayor is more like being the absolute ruler of your domain, except on a budget. The game is horribly addictive, leaving players spending hours on end controlling every aspect of city life in a way that would make Mayor Street green with envy (without those pesky bugs).
And you get to bust stuff up, Almighty-style.
Sure, building a city is good, but there is something undeniably gooder (gods get to make up their own words) about building a mega-city; they unleash simultaneous earthquakes, tornadoes and meteors on an unsuspecting populace.
Just be sure to check on traffic and transit on the twos.
Brian White can be reached at email@example.com