Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
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  1. By providing an impressive level of detail in a game where detail is essential, and by including intuitive enhancements to the player experience, this is one title that should easily land on the “must have” list for any gamer.
  2. GameNow
    Great sequel for the one and only city sim game out there. [A+; Apr 2003, p.45]
  3. 100
    The new features, refined interface, and (above all) near-perfect sense of balance make this old dog feel vital and new.
  4. Game Informer
    It would be unwise to attempt to measure the amount of time you'll spend playing this game in hours; rather, it should be measured in days or weeks. [Feb 2003, p.106]
  5. The graphics are nothing short of fantastic. Whether viewing the city from a bird’s eye perspective or up close and personal to homes, businesses, or traffic, the level of detail and finesse are obvious.
  6. 92
    Unlike "SimCity 3000," SimCity 4 really is a major evolutionary step in the series.
  7. It is marvelous fun to use God-like power to morph the terrain, release tornadoes on the town, or simply try to make your city the best it can be.
  8. The most obvious improvement from the previous games is the interface, which is now far simpler than it was in any other SimCity title... This is without a doubt the best SimCity game so far.
  9. Entertainment Weekly
    The game is such an architectural playground that you can build on it for hundreds of hours and never get bored. [17 Jan 2003, p.87]
  10. One thing that is really great about SimCity 4 is the fact that EVERYTHING is under your control.
  11. We couldn't have asked for much more than has been delivered, and I doubt Maxis could have done much more with a formula that they've improved upon time and again.
  12. Cheat Code Central
    The level of detail is astounding... You can play this game for years and always get different results.
  13. The amount of detail, information, and control in SimCity 4 is nothing short of amazing - wannabe city planners and mayors will be in city management nirvana.
  14. The same, and happily just as oops-where-did-the-weekend-go addictive. Buy it, and resign yourself to some five-hours gaps in your memory you may have difficulty explaining to the police at a later date.
  15. Oops-where-did-the-weekend-go addictive. Buy it, and resign yourself to some five-hours gaps in your memory you may have difficulty explaining to the police at a later date. [PC Format]
  16. A more than worthy successor to the mayoral throne, and by far the best in the series, except for slow-down issues.
  17. Technical sim junkies will have a lot to build, destroy, and monitor, but newbies might want to run for shelter.
  18. PC Gamer
    Everything you've ever loved about the series has been given a gorgeous new visual treatment. If you've got the patience to handle the tough difficulty, it'll be a fun game. [Mar 2003, p.112]
  19. Yes, you are able to import your sims, and yes you can observe their daily routine as they work their way up from the inner-city slums into a high-level corporate position, but then you have to ask yourself why you would want to do that to begin with.
  20. With the updated graphics and cool God Mode this game will give you hours and hours of tinker and tweak gaming pleasure.
  21. Due to the presence of some stability and performance issues, as well as a few noticeably lacking features, SimCity 4 doesn't seem as polished as it could have been.
  22. Despite our concerns over the lack of a full 3D engine, Sim City 4 is a beautiful game to behold.
  23. 80
    It's crushingly addictive, especially with the fascinating new possibilities offered by having your cities trade with each other for resources. Fix the stability, add some scenarios and we might be looking at a five star game.
  24. GMR Magazine
    The fundamental mechanics haven't changed much, but they have been significantly enhanced. What's most noticeable is the excellent presentation. [Feb 2003, p.70]
  25. Unlike past SimCities that dealt in generalities, this one takes a more hands-on approach.
  26. Computer Gaming World
    The shift in emphasis to tending the whims of your Sims has left the economic model a bit shaky. [Mar 2003, p.84]
  27. 80
    SimCity 4 isn't a perfect game. It has a difficult learning curve, so the poor documentation and limited tutorials might frustrate players. And the gameplay suffers from some pacing and balance flaws.
  28. 75
    Unfortunately the high system requirements and tedium of building will probably turn away hordes of players who otherwise would've had a great time.
  29. The new feature I found the most interesting is the ability to tax different income brackets.
  30. SimCity 4’s biggest flaw is that it’s not a SimCity. It’s some third-party interpretation of what SimCity should be like, with some grand new features. The new features are implemented but the designers totally missed what makes a SimCity.
  31. Lacks scenarios, ready-made cities from the developers, and some new features -- the first person "streetside" view was discussed during development, but is absent.
  32. Minutes turn to hours turn to days of play but all of a sudden, a revelation hits you. ‘What am I doing?’, ‘What’s the point in this?’ – you start to question why you’re putting so much time into a practically endless game.
  33. netjak
    Surprisingly deep, complex, and accessible, SimCity 4 is the pinnacle of simulation games.
  34. Edge Magazine
    SimCity 4 might sit down among the many footnotes in the history of gaming, but it fills its remit with skill, creating a game that genuinely demands something of our oft-neglected intellect. [March 2003, p.101]
  35. A nice looking but repetitive and slightly annoying management game.
  36. Computer Games Magazine
    Because the game adheres so much to real-world city-building, it's harder and harder to build the city of your dreams. [Apr 2003, p.76]
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 353 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 9 out of 353
  1. DiogoC
    Jun 28, 2008
    The improved graphics and the marvelous taste of challenge makes this the best SimCity ever!
  2. Mar 5, 2013
    This game is stunning and so far ahead of its time it's crazy. Probably Maxis' finest achievement. Will anyone be playing SimCity2013 in 10This game is stunning and so far ahead of its time it's crazy. Probably Maxis' finest achievement. Will anyone be playing SimCity2013 in 10 years?...... Full Review »
  3. Oct 10, 2018
    Simcity 4 is an outstanding game. I have grown up all my life with Simcity, and by far, this is the best game in the series. My firstSimcity 4 is an outstanding game. I have grown up all my life with Simcity, and by far, this is the best game in the series. My first experience of Simcity came from Simcity Ds when I was about 8 years old, and have been playing ever since. Compared to Simcity 3000, this game is a huge step up.
    Clearly aimed at experienced, PC gaming, simulator loving gamers, Simcity can satisfy all of the requirements that are needed to make a great city simulator, and does so much more to interest the player.

    The game is orientated around grittier city building, or large gleaming metropolises, which, to a long term player, is a great change from the previous installments - where the design choices and city genres seemed somewhat limited.

    With so many buildings to choose from, you may expect a steep difficulty curve, which indeed is apparent as you play the game. However, there is a certain satisfaction as your first high-rises begin to develop!

    In my opinion, an important factor in gaming, is the music, as it creates most of the atmosphere. Simcity 4 does impress; it impresses a lot. The ambient music in the regional view, combined with the gritty, hard jazz in the mayor view, combine to create an incredible atmosphere, incomparable to previous entries in the series, despite the impressive jazz tracks in Simcity 3000. My favorite track in the game, known as ‘Zone System’ is an example of the perfection of ambient, gritty, depressing, but most of all, interesting, city-sounding music. It sets the atmosphere of the game perfectly, and captures the player’s and the sim’s emotions as you expand your corrupt city into a gleaming paradise.

    One of Simcity 4’s main selling points, is the region view. This is a grid of differently sized square plots, all connected together. Compared to Simcity 5, this set up is perfect. It allows players to create a huge metropolis, which would not have been possible in a single city, with a total plot size that would be impossible otherwise to run on a computer today, let alone back in 2003.
    Each individual cell, either 256x256, 128x128 or 64x64 tiles, can be landscaped by the player before creating their city. This could involve creating mountains, valleys, rivers, oceans or really any land form that the player could dream of.

    Alternatively, the player has the possibility to import maps off of Simtropolis, and though difficult to install, adds an extra element to the game – I’m currently working on a city in a region shaped as the UK, with the landscape shaped from a high detailed height map.

    Another selling point of the game is the implementation of features from The Sims. While these features are not necessary, they add a certain charm to the game. They allow the player to drive cars, fly planes, ride boats, control trains, or even drive a tank whilst destroying buildings with missiles.

    An important part of gaming is certainly the graphics and aesthetics, and Simcity 4 does not disappoint. The graphics, while pixelated once zoomed in, are amazing. Loads of buildings have interesting features, even with customized gardens or small details such as cars. The view of the game is isometric, and the player can rotate the view by 90 degrees, in order to see parts of the map that may be hidden. This is an important feature, especially when working around hills. What I would have liked though is a feature where the player could view the map from birds-eye-view, but I can understand there may have been hardware limitations back in 2003 that may have made this impossible.

    Simcity 4 gives the player access to many natural disasters and scenarios. Meteorites, tornadoes and earthquakes can be summoned by the player at any time, along with many other disasters. An example of an interesting scenario is if a nuclear power plant explodes, causing a lot of radiation to be expelled into the city. This can be interesting if the player wants a challenge, or just fun to destroy a huge metropolis!

    Simcity 4 does have a few problems however, though not major if you know how to overcome them. The most prominent problem is the commute time being too difficult to manage.

    Another issue is the constant industrial demand, where the player would need to build huge cities dedicated only towards industrial. This can be rather boring, as industrial development is limited, but can be improved by adding a mod that quarters the industrial demand.

    Overall, Simcity 4 is a steal on Origin! For such an amazing game as this, with so many customization options, and such amazing music and game play, it is definitely worth the low price, despite being 15 years old. I would rate Simcity 4 a 10/10 simply for the enjoyment of the playing the game, but I would recommend that new players start with an easier game, Simcity 3000 or Simcity Ds, in order to introduce themselves to the basic fundamental ideas of how to play and manage a city.
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