SimCity 3000 (SC3K) is a city building simulation game for the PC, and the third installment in the SimCity series of games. It was published by Electronic Arts (EA) and developed by series creator Maxis, a wholly owned subsidiary of EA. It was released for Windows, Macintosh, and, through an arrangement with Loki Games, Linux.
Gameplay and changes from SimCity 2000
There were many changes between SimCity 3000 and its immediate predecessor SimCity 2000 (SC2K). These changes spanned both the integral city management aspects of the game, as well as its graphical and landscape aspects. These changes gave the game a feel greatly different from that of SC2K.
In a pattern which has continued throughout the SimCity franchise, the number and complexity of city services increased between SC2K and SC3K. The most notable change was that the concept of waste management was introduced in SC3K. In previous versions of SimCity, this aspect had been ignored. However, in SC3K, once a city has a population greater than 1,000, garbage would begin to accumulate and would have to be disposed of at the expense of the city. Farms and agriculture structures were also introduced, appearing on large light industrial zones in a city with low land value and little pollution. In Sim City 3000, there are three zoning densities compared to SC2K's 2 density model. In addition to their limited life span, power plants are now vulnerable to decreasing maximum output at a constant rate after they have gone through about three quarters of their life span.
Although the concept of neighbor cities was introduced in SC2K, it was greatly expanded upon in SC3K. For the first time, the player could interact with his or her neighbor cities, negotiating rudimentary business deals with other mayors, such as the sale or purchase of water, electricity, or waste management services. These generate a monthly charge which is either added to or subtracted from the player's treasury, in accordance with the deal. Canceling a neighbor deal will incur a substantial cash penalty. From time to time, the simulated mayors of neighboring cities will call meetings to renegotiate the terms or price of these deals. Four different simulated mayors appear in the game.
Although not strictly a city management aspect, SimCity 3000 simulated the effect of land value on construction much more realistically than in SimCity 2000. In the latter, most buildings fell into a wide stratum that did not reflect land value very effectively; every building was more or less suited to neighborhoods of every economic disposition. In SC3K, land value created very distinct neighborhoods which tended to contain narrow income bands, creating well-defined slums, middle class areas, and wealthy areas. Land value is also determined by the city center effect where buildings that are at the city center have higher land values and those buildings on the borders have lower land values. The city center effect is determined by the location of buildings within the city. However, over time, land value "inflation" would cause almost every area of a city to become expensive, so that wealthy neighborhoods covered most if not all of the map.
Business deals were another new concept to SC3K. For allowing certain structures to be built within the city, the player can receive a substantial amount of funds from them. The four business deal structures are the maximum security prison, casino, toxic waste conversion plant, and the Gigamall (a large shopping mall). Business deal structures however have serious negative effects on a city. The toxic waste dump cripples both the land value and residential desirability in the area surrounding it and produces massive pollution. The prison dramatically decreases land value. The casino increases city wide crime and the Gigamall weakens demand for local commerce.
There were several changes to the graphical interface in SC3K. Although the game retained the pseudo-isometric dimetric perspective of its predecessor, the actual landscape became more complex and colorful. In SimCity and SC2K, the playable landscape was brown, like the color of bare dirt. In SC3K, the playable landscape was a more realistic green color, simulating grassland, along with other colors that progressively change by height, from beige (beach sand) to green to brown (bare ground) to white (snow). In SC2K, land could either be flat or sloped, and all slopes were of the same steepness. In SC3K, there were five distinct steepness of slope, creating more varied landscapes. However, in SC3K, there are no waterfalls and hydroelectric dams, which are common in SC2K. Also, for the first time, there were different types of trees which could appear on the playable map. In SC2K, there were only pine trees, while in SC3K, oak trees prevail, but other types of trees exist, depending on the elevation of the terrain. In SC2K, trees would grow at random throughout the city where no buildings existed. This feature was removed in SC3K. The creators of SimCity are obsessed with llamas. This obsession is apparent throughout the game with llamas appearing in multiple various places.
Advisors and petitioners
and its revision Unlimited
feature seven advisors, each covering a specific issue, who help players make proper decisions in the game by providing recommendations and advice. As opposed to previous versions of SimCity
, the advisors actually give in-depth advice which is helpful to the player. In SimCity 2000
, the advisors' advice usually consisted of the advisor discouraging the player from even considering budget cuts to that advisor's department.
There are also petitioners, many of whom are citizens of the players' cities, that request players to modify city policies, such as lowering tax rates, or enacting an ordinance. Some are outside interests, often pushing proposals which would harm the city in exchange for a boost to its financial coffers.
In addition to advisors, a news ticker
scrolls along the bottom of the screen, displaying pertinent information about the city in the form of news stories, such as indicating that the city needs more schools, or how well a particular city department is functioning. Generally, when things were going very well in a city, the news ticker would display headlines
which are comical, or even nonsensical and often seemingly useless to the player. Examples of such headlines being: "Semicolon declared sexier than comma in grammarian's fête
," or "(City Name) prints all wrong numbers in phone book, leads to 15 marriages
" or quotes from a "Tommy B. Saif Sez." Other headlines may be labeled "(City Name) News Ticker" or "From the Desk of Wise Guy Sammy". On occasions, the ticker will even provide a foreshadowing of an approaching disaster, for example, sometimes reading "Did you feel that big truck pass by?
What? It wasn't a truck?", "Tidal waves
reported off coast", "strange sightings reported between Areas 50 and 52
," "Mrs. SimLeary buys prize-winning cow
," or perhaps another quote from a set range of different headlines before an earthquake occurs. There are various cheats that can cause the news ticker to display strange headings, such as entering in the cheat bar "simon says ----", where ---- is written by the user; --- will appear as the next message in the ticker. Or typing the word "bat" in the cheat bar, which causes the ticker to read, "Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-BATMAN
!" There are many others as well.
Independent real-world landmarks were also introduced for the first time in SimCity 3000, but are mostly for aesthetic purposes (though placing a building would open up an option in the city ordinances window for tourism advertising), and are free of construction cost. In SC3K
, a maximum of ten landmarks can be built in one city (a cheat code in the game may disable this limit), while Unlimited
imposes no limit whatsoever. Examples of landmarks featured in the original SC3K
include the Parthenon
, the CN Tower
, Notre Dame
, the Bank of China Tower
, the Empire State Building
, the Pharos of Alexandria
and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center
with each tower a separate building.
The game features a number of disasters
which the player or game could inflict upon one's city, including fires
attacks. However, there never appears to be any casualties (Sims are disrupted
but not killed
). The population only decreases if they are forced to move when residential areas are destroyed by the disasters. Certain cheat codes can invoke special disasters. As in past SimCity
games, all disasters can be disabled. The effects of disasters are also more realistic, as (for example) a major earthquake can cause a faultline to appear across the map. However, the ability to deploy the military to a disaster once a military base is placed in the player's city was removed in this game. If a nuclear power plant is overtaxed in the game, a nuclear meltdown can occur, making the surrounding area uninhabitable for many years.
Another major change from SC2K
was the addition of a live music score composed by Jerry Martin
. The new jazz-inspired score adds greatly to the overall feel and depth of the game compared to the MIDI music in the previous game. The fifteen tracks from the game are also available as MP3s
for download on EA's SC3K
website for listening outside of the game.
Prior to the acquisition
by Electronic Arts
in 1997, plans were originally made in 1996 to develop SimCity 3000
as a fully 3D
game, in tune with the emergence of 3D computer and video games. Although the idea was deemed impractical by employees for being too graphically demanding, Maxis management pushed for the concept, and the game was developed for a year. A pre-release screenshot of the original version suggests graphics similar to those seen in both SimCopter
and Streets of SimCity
, and was intended to include extensive micromanagement. When the game was first unveiled in the 1997 E3
, it was "an experience still regarded as an embarrassment." The 3D version of the game was expected to become a flop, and its future release was even thought to be the fatal blow to an already poorly performing Maxis, which had failed to release profitable titles in the years since SimCity 2000
After EA completed acquisition of Maxis, Luc Barthelet was assigned by EA as the new general manager of Maxis. He was troubled by the 3D SC3K, questioning the viability of a game with such graphics. Eventually, the 3D version was completely scrapped, Lucy Bradshaw was brought in from EA in November 1997 to lead the SC3K project, and a new revision based on SC2K's pseudo-isometric dimetric projection and sprite-based graphics was redeveloped from scratch. The new plan focused on retaining the core engine of the game, improving more minor features in the game instead, such as larger maps, new zoom levels, and additional gameplay parameters.
The second version of SC3K would receive a more positive reception during its appearance in 1998 E3, and was well-received after its release in February 1999 (although Maxis originally intended the game to be released by Christmas 1998; regardless, EA willingly waited until the game was completed).
In 2000, the game was re-released and went by different names such as SimCity 3000 Unlimited
(in the USA), SimCity 3000 Deutschland (Germany)
, SimCity 3000 World Edition
(other countries) and SimCity 3000 UK Edition
amongst others. This added, among other things, East Asian
building sets, additional terrain colors and wild vegetations, a snapshot feature, an improved version of the Building Architect Tool (a very basic pseudo-3D
design tool based on cubes), four additional disasters, additional landmarks, and thirteen scenarios (along with an editor based on Microsoft Access
). A number of pre-made cities are also available, including London
Like SimCity 2000
's SimCity Urban Renewal Kit
) tool, SimCity 3000
had its own building modifier called the BAT
(Building Architect Tool
). However, the BAT
was based on the idea of building blocks (not unlike LEGO
bricks). Because of the negative reactions on the limited possibilities with the SCURK
(Building Architect Tool Plus) was introduced with the ability to add custom-made props.
Despite the huge amount of buildings and artists involved with the BAT, it has not gained the cult-status the SCURK has. Another possible reason is that the BAT did not allow people to create and edit cities by placing buildings free-of-charge, unlike the SCURK's city editor, thus lessening the BAT's appeal.
- ''See also: The Building Architect Tool for SimCity 4
is a heavily modified version of SimCity 3000
for the Nintendo DS
(or most likely a rewrite), released in Japan on February 22
and in North America on June 19
and in Europe on June 22
. The game inherits SC3K
's graphics, but makes use of the handheld's dual screen to display additional interfaces at once. System specific features are also prominent, such as the use of the systems' integrated microphone, which is used to blow out fires and the touch screen which is used to control the interface. The game also features a Save the City mode in which the player must help one of several cities recover from a disaster and reach a specific target to succeed.