Each of those tiny houses and cars is its own tiny little simulation.
Maxis / EA
The first thing that an old school SimCity
fan is likely to notice about the series' upcoming revamp, due on PCs in February 2013, is the level of detail. This includes graphical detail for sure; cities are finally rendered in full 3D, and you can twist and pan and zoom the view to your heart's content. The graphics system uses tilt-shift effects and saturated colors to make it seem like you're viewing a tiny, living model world, an impression that only enhanced by the satisfying thunk and cloud of dust that comes from placing buildings and objects.
But it's the level of detail in the simulation that's really stunning. While the SimCity
franchise has always done a good job of covering macro-level trends in the life of your city, the new SimCity
lets you get incredibly specific about your citizens. When you set up a residential zone next to a curvy cul-de-sac, for instance, you can actually see the "for sale" signs on the individual houses, and watch the moving vans filling in the vacancies.
Each of those residential families is fully simulated, to the point where you can follow them to their jobs or shopping trips as the days progress, if you want to. The detail extends to other systems too: you can actually see your coal piles dwindle as each individual truck picks up the raw fuel and delivers it to a smog-spewing power plant, or watch the cops in a shootout with a distinct criminal. It's a bit mesmerizing.