Lately I've been on a rather down note with MMORPGs. I'm pretty much over the constant grind of leveling, and as I have rather little time between bong hits to play any game I tend to value the pause button more than most other features.
Well, I have been playing quite a bit of LOTRO, which I find it difficult to quit since I have such a laid-back attitude toward playing it - an attitude I happily believe Turbine encourages. Now if only I had more time for DDO.
But rather than fill any extra bits of time I have to spare with another MMORPG (even an excellent game like DDO), I have decided to go back to my game-addiction roots by investigating the city-building genre.
So first up, I played the crap out of SimCity, SimCity 2000 and SimCity 3000 back when each was considered the paragon of sim gaming (i.e. before that wretched shitfest known as the Sims was released - I know, it's a lonely opinion considering it is probably still the best-selling franchise in gaming history). But other than those three titles, I missed out on the other games that share the genre - namely the historic city-builders like the classic Caesar series. (The 90s were not kind to yours truly so I missed out on a lot from that decade.)
So the past week or so I have been hunting down games in both the historic and modern subgenres. I'll state right off that I have decided to take a pass on SimCity Societies, as it doesn't appear to have the depth of strategy I want. And I would probably be perfectly happy playing SimCity 4, but I can't get it to work.
Right now I am slaking my city-building thirst from the fountain of the classic game Pharaoh. It was a slight pain getting it to run properly on what would have been practically a supercomputer when it was released (10 years ago), but not too difficult. Talk about a fun old game - I am pretty much hooked for the time being.
I am also quite enamored of the new online browser game, Nile Online. Like any of the other f2p browser games in this category it's a bit cheesy, but it draws on the solid foundation of games like Pharaoh and the newer Children of the Nile. And it is made by Tilted Mill, which was formed from the ashes of Caesar and Pharaoh creator Impressions Games. Funnily, they also developed SimCity Societies - I guess we can't win them all. And while I like this game, it does not scratch the itch of a more fully developed stand-alone game.
I'm considering getting City Life, as it's available on Steam without the horrendous Starforce DRM, and it has garnered a pretty solid following of city-builder fans. But I'm not sure I want a modern city-builder and it appears City Life developer Monte Cristo is coming out with a brand-new city game sometime in the future - perhaps I'll just wait for that.
Next up: CivCity Rome - which I bought and almost instantly regretted as soon as I loaded it up. Not because of the gameplay, which seems decent enough, but rather because of the lack of options for those of us with widescreen monitors. In other words - no options.
And because either Samsung or Nvidia or Satan (who knows?) can't get their act together and make a driver that allows for proper aspect ratio scaling no matter what I do I get ugly, stretched-out graphics. It pisses me off just thinking about it.
Oh, and why not just run it in windowed mode? Stupid prole, CivCity Rome has no use for windowed mode. I mean it came out in 2006 - why would a game released waaaay back then have the capability for widescreen display or windowed mode? Yes, I am being heavily sarcastic.
So I am now deciding between Children of the Nile and Settlers: Rise of an Empire. I've played the demo for CotN and, like it's predecessor Pharaoh, it is a solid game so I am heavily leaning toward it. Like I mentioned earlier I missed out on a lot of what gaming offered in the 1990s so I would like to get a taste for myself of the venerable Settlers series.
I'll probably end up with the Settlers as I already know I love CotN (like my logic there?) and will be buying it no matter what in the future. But money and more importanty time are concerns for me, so I need to pick and choose and can't just plunk down for both right now. So I will likely go with Settlers and see what I can get out of it before entering into what will surely be the all-night crackfests of Children of the Nile.
Finally I want to mention one last thing: where is the Caesar IV love? Well, since Caesar is probably the defacto standard of the historic city-building genre I probably would have just got that right off the bat and then decided on how I feel about it after the fact. But now that it is a few years old it is not the easiest game to find and even if I could waltz down to Gamestop and buy it, I still probably wouldn't as I really no longer like buying physical game boxes and Steam has become my download service of choice. Hopefully someday Caesar will come to Steam so I can enjoy it - perhaps a Caesar V?