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SimCity hands-on preview: building Port Foozle

Designing within limits

It didn't take long for Port Foozle to fill its borders. Pictured up there is as much space as any city can occupy in SimCity, and according to Creative Director Ocean Quigley, the restriction is a necessary trade-off to keep the game performing well. I think allowing those with beefier rigs to push them would be nice, but this is how it is right now, and the limit actually has some positive effects.

The early game in SimCity would be much less important if cities could expand beyond their initial tract, but because they're limited, planning ahead is imperative. And most plans have at least a few flaws, forcing mid-game mayors to redesign districts to accommodate the increased demand for high density housing, shopping, and industry. It creates tough decisions, like whether or not to demolish your quaint, carefully plotted suburbs to make way for the future.

Read more: The Sims 4: Seasons review

I still hate knocking over people's houses, but I like that there are trade-offs. I guess you just can't get anywhere without driving a bulldozer through town now and then. What I don't like is the creative restriction. Port Foozle could never be the city I wanted it to be. I wanted a dense, Las Vegas strip-style downtown which gave way to a sprawl of suburbs, but instead I had to zone high-density residential, commercial, and industrial blocks right next to each other to pack in more people, and every new casino required me to demolish more low-density roads.

Because the border never expands, population growth is entirely about density. A cute little service road leading out to my power plants would quickly impede progress, so that bit of personality has to go. Every inch of land must be developed and optimized for growth, unless your goal is a stable medium-sized city.

Tyler has spent over 900 hours playing Rocket League, and slightly fewer nitpicking the PC Gamer style guide. His primary news beat is game stores: Steam, Epic, and whatever launcher squeezes into our taskbars next.