Version Reviewed: 1.0
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EA has had quite an interesting experience with its port of SimCity on the iPhone. The original SimCity game, which has vanished from the App Store, was plagued with glitches and mishaps, quite possibly starting a long lasting hatred for EA and other large developers. The problem with the app is that the problems were never fully fixed, and a ton of people were left with an app that never really felt complete.
The release of SimCity Deluxe aims to fix all the glitches that plagued the original, but has been released in its own package rather than a major update to the original app. Needless to say, some people are understandably angry, but it's not my goal to fuel those flames.
SimCity Deluxe really is the app that everyone was looking for when the original came out. The main difference though is the speed of the whole experience. The first app, which I had on my iPhone 3G was really slow. Zooming was slow, texturing was slow, the menus were slow, and the app was painful to start. It was a really complex game that was trying to run on a system that wasn't fast enough. You'd think that EA would've learned from the launch of SimCity 4 for the desktop, but they didn't.
The new app flows smoothly from screen to screen, zooms in and out with ease, and opens up instantly because of fast app switching. There's no need to wait for loading times, because even the first launch of the game took only a few seconds. Also gone are the weird glitches that plagued the first game. There are no more "black holes" or strange menu re-routes to go through... for the most part everything works.
Thankfully, the menus are all updated for a more streamlined experience. The buttons all seem more responsive, and the menu system seems to make a bit more sense than it did in the last go around. It could just be my built in SimCity optimism, but everything just seems... nicer.
As far as the game itself goes, it is exactly what you would expect from SimCity, minus a few of the things that made the desktop version great. Still missing are the neighbor deals, highways, and subways, but in a mobile version it seems ok. For $6.99, I feel like I can sacrifice a few things. The rest of the game is very similar to the desktop version, from the music to the scrolling text on the bottom of the screen. There are the customary scenarios and starter levels, as well as the return of the disasters. So yes, you can destroy your city with an alien attack if you'd like. Nothing is really going to surprise you, and fortunately you won't feel like you've been cheated out of a good SimCity experience.
There are still a few glitches here and there (such as the city piling up with trash before the dumps are full), but they are all small and don't get in the way much. Because there are no interconnected cities, and no monster sized maps like the desktop version, you can't build a sprawling metropolis, but you can build a fairly large city that will keep you busy for a long long time.
SimCity Deluxe is finally the SimCity game that people were waiting for on the iPhone. If you like SimCity, you really should pick this one up.