Skip to main content

Apparently This Matters: The new 'SimCity'

"SimCity" lets you lay out your very own city from scratch, then mess with it.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jarrett Bellini checks out a trial version of the updated "SimCity" video game
  • The game lets you lay out your very own town from scratch and manage its budget
  • Bellini: "What can I say? I like to name things in my pretend community"
  • Online buzz has been building for the game, which comes out March 5

Editor's note: Each week in "Apparently This Matters," CNN's Jarrett Bellini applies his warped sensibilities to trending topics in social media and random items of interest on the Web.

(CNN) -- Despite the fact that basic math and science cause me to bleed from my ears, I once confidently oversaw the design and construction of a fully functional nuclear power plant that provided safe energy to thousands of people. Hell, I even placed it next to a playground. And for decades it never once experienced so much as the slightest hint of disaster.

Until the monster came.

"Sir, you better take a look at this."

"Aww, jeez."

Yes, that was a rather dark day in the thriving metropolis of Jarrett-Is-Awesome-Ville.

So, in response, as mayor, I quickly approved funding for a new football stadium. Which didn't seem to help with disaster management.

\
"Apparently This Matters" Is Jarrett Bellini's weekly (and somewhat random) look at social-media trends.

"Sir, the people would like a word with you."

Of course, I was never really mayor of a town -- I don't wear pants nearly often enough to hold down that kind of job -- but I did enthusiastically play one on the classic city-building simulator, "SimCity."

So, you can only imagine the excitement I felt recently when the Internet suddenly starting buzzing about the upcoming release of a brand new version of the only video game I ever loved. And as more and more mentions of it started popping up all over the Web, one thing became perfectly clear: I wasn't alone in my undying passion for building fake roads.

That said, it's been many years and several epic steps in computer technology since I've actually played the game (it debuted in 1989). However, on March 5, those of us who have long fancied ourselves as urban planners will get a completely modern version of "SimCity" to once again assist us in the gleeful neglect of our jobs, family, and personal hygiene.

Which, when you think about it, is fairly amazing.

"Sim City" shouldn't be fun. Not even a little bit. Essentially, it's local governance. And from someone who just went through the process of obtaining a real-life building variance, I can assure you that City Hall isn't exactly the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese. And it probably has more traces of feces.

Yet, somehow, laying out your very own town from scratch, managing its budget, and occasionally destroying the whole community with monsters and earthquakes is unquestionably appealing.

The true beauty of "SimCity" is that for every disgruntled person who ever said, "This whole place is run by idiots," the game offers a way for you to prove to the world -- or at least, maybe, to your cat -- that you can do better.

And, if nothing else, you can definitely take out all your day-to-day frustrations by bulldozing a train station. You know, without actually bulldozing a train station. Which, after a full week of intense investigative journalism, I can now confirm is "illegal."

So, the other day, as a remarkably distinguished member of the international media, I had the opportunity to play a pre-release trial version of the new "SimCity," thus making it a five-star weekend.

Whatever. You have your major accomplishments in life. I have mine.

Unfortunately, however, on that beautiful and momentous Saturday I actually had to borrow my friend's PC laptop to do so -- which made me feel both confused and dirty. Or at least more so than normal.

Sadly, the Mac version of the game won't be available until later in the spring. So, the cool kids will just have to wait. Which is going to be tough.

Seriously, if I was a grizzly bear I'd probably just hibernate until late April, wake up, stretch, murder a bunch of salmon, and then immediately download the new "SimCity."

And then murder more salmon. Because I'm a grizzly bear. Who owns a MacBook Pro.

So, here's what I can tell you: The graphics are really pretty. And it's very thorough. Very. I can't confirm this, but it's entirely possible that you have to choose interior wallpaper for the local VD clinic.

Also known as the future home of The Purell Center.

What can I say? I like to name things in my pretend community. Our future Major League Soccer team will play in the Bill and Melinda Gates Terror Dome!

Aside from the updated, fancy graphics and insane attention to detail, the other notable highlight of this new version of the game is the option for multiplayer and multicity. You can actually manage up to 16 towns at once and compete against other people. Though, personally, I prefer to make "SimCity" a simple, private affair. It's much easier to willfully launch a tornado on the trailer park when you don't have to answer to anyone.

Except The Sims. Your citizens. Who I imagine will be super enthusiastic to live in my temporary disaster housing, Joy Acres.

Our motto: "We want you to be happy!"

And why shouldn't they be? They'll have a great view of the nuclear power plant.

"Sir, the people would like a word with you."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Apparently This Matters...
updated 12:44 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
I haven't had a single Diet Coke in 2014. It was a conscious health decision, and the only real side effect, now, is that the world is awful and I hate everything.
updated 5:20 PM EDT, Fri April 4, 2014
The art of preparing, stuffing, and mounting animal skins is called taxidermy, and it can range from classy to creepy depending on whether your subject is a moose, or, say, a homeless drifter.
updated 12:16 AM EDT, Mon March 31, 2014
The July 21, 1969, headline of the New York Times read, "MEN WALK ON MOON."
updated 12:55 PM EDT, Tue March 25, 2014
I once uploaded an Instagram of me at Old Navy trying to get all kissy-face with a mannequin. At the time it seemed like a good idea, but she was rather unresponsive.
updated 5:13 PM EST, Fri March 7, 2014
I use a Keurig coffee machine at home because I'm lazy. And, quite frankly, don't feel like I've really done my duty to God and country until I've added a little something to the landfill.
updated 1:38 PM EST, Fri February 28, 2014
I wouldn't necessarily call myself a true germaphobe, but if entering a domestic partnership with a bottle of Purell were legal I'd certainly consider it.
updated 6:31 PM EST, Fri February 21, 2014
Fact: The most underrated cute animal on the face of the planet is the walrus.
updated 4:08 PM EST, Fri February 14, 2014
A wise man once said, "I'm not wearing pants today."
updated 4:47 PM EST, Fri February 7, 2014
Let me tell you about the time I spent $388.58 replacing a single light bulb.
updated 11:22 AM EST, Sat February 1, 2014
Attention minions of Colonel Meow:
updated 1:10 PM EST, Mon January 27, 2014
It's the stuff of movies. Bad movies. But movies.
updated 9:42 AM EST, Mon January 20, 2014
crying baby
I rarely get to experience fine dining. Mostly because, generally speaking, it also requires fine currency. And pants.
updated 3:40 PM EST, Wed January 22, 2014
There's a classic rap song from the early 1990s called "It Was a Good Day" where Ice Cube chronicles 24 hours of peace and happiness on the otherwise rough and dangerous streets of South Central Los Angeles.
updated 4:11 PM EST, Sun December 22, 2013
Growing up in Arizona, the common joke was that one day a giant earthquake would tear California out into the Pacific and then we'd all have oceanfront property.
updated 11:15 PM EST, Mon December 16, 2013
I'm really not sure how I feel about the color purple. It's elegant and regal, but part of me also wants it to die in a ditch.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Mon December 9, 2013
A dog's life is fairly easy. It usually involves waking up late, eating some food and then passing out for eight hours in the backyard.
updated 3:22 PM EST, Fri November 22, 2013
The other day I was engaged in a rather thoughtful conversation with one of my CNN co-workers, an Ivy League-educated, award-winning journalist who's admired for her compassion and charm. She asked me to fart.
updated 1:48 PM EST, Mon November 18, 2013
Just did some power lunges. Quads getting huge. Can only speak in fragments. Because my quads are so huge.
updated 3:49 PM EST, Mon November 11, 2013
I'm typing this in bed, lying next to my dog, Mikey. We're best buds, and it's sort of a thing we do. There's also the occasional tongue kiss.
updated 1:49 PM EST, Mon November 4, 2013
At best I'm a 5.
updated 6:57 PM EDT, Fri October 25, 2013
Here's the short, tragic story of a little car in China that nobody wanted.
updated 12:47 PM EDT, Fri October 18, 2013
Nobody wants to underwhelm when it comes to their final words on this planet.
updated 5:16 PM EDT, Fri October 11, 2013
My dad still uses an old flip phone. It's gray. It's clunky. And its two ringtone choices are an early recording of Greensleeves or a dramatic poetry slam by Grover Cleveland.
updated 2:30 PM EDT, Sat October 5, 2013
I go to the gym. It's an excellent place to watch SportsCenter while occupying a bench press that somebody else might otherwise use for actual exercise.
updated 3:14 PM EDT, Fri September 27, 2013
It's been quite a while since I last soiled my pants. Easily a week or two. Maybe three.
updated 4:22 PM EDT, Fri September 20, 2013
cocktail
Crammed three-deep at the bar on Friday night used to be my idea of good time. But years have passed, and now I prefer the quiet solitude of rearranging my sock drawer, pretending that TV commentators speaking proper British are doing the play-by-play.
updated 3:28 PM EDT, Fri September 13, 2013
When the apocalypse comes, I'm pretty sure I can get by for a while on Diet Coke and Klondike Bars.
updated 2:34 PM EDT, Fri September 6, 2013
Certain products are definitely OK to rent. Like a car. Or a tuxedo. Or the cheapest room at a Motel 6 when you find yourself strolling down I-85 at midnight with no pants.
updated 7:49 PM EDT, Fri August 30, 2013
There are a lot of things in my freezer. Animal sperm isn't one of them.
updated 4:03 PM EDT, Fri August 23, 2013
I've often said I'd like to smother my entire body in soy sauce. But enough about my eHarmony profile.
updated 8:05 PM EDT, Mon August 19, 2013
To call myself a true ginger is rather an insult to all the legitimate redheads of the world. You know, the super shiny ones you carefully hide from your children.
updated 10:02 AM EDT, Sat August 10, 2013
When I was a kid I used to write fan letters to the Chicago Cubs. I was young and didn't know any better.
updated 10:58 AM EDT, Fri August 2, 2013
When I was growing up, to open my parents' refrigerator was to take a magical journey deep into a strange land of Tupperware that ultimately ended in sadness, confusion and some sort of round, congealed blob of food that may or may not have dated to the Carter administration.
updated 10:37 AM EDT, Fri July 26, 2013
It's been a rough month for chickens.
updated 11:21 PM EDT, Fri July 19, 2013
At home I drink from the tap. Not so much because I particularly love the taste, but because the automatic water dispenser on my fridge doesn't work.
updated 2:44 PM EDT, Sat July 13, 2013
We all have bad habits. Nobody's perfect. Especially the booger eaters.
updated 5:03 PM EDT, Fri July 5, 2013
Children of the '80s and '90s fondly remember a time when MTV actually played music videos.
updated 6:09 PM EDT, Fri June 28, 2013
I've always found amusement parks very unamusing, for it's hard to justify standing in a hot, 40-minute roller-coaster line so I can promptly lose my car keys and barf up a churro.
updated 12:49 PM EDT, Fri June 21, 2013
One day, a rather inconsiderate caveman turned to his cavewoman and said, "You know, Diane, you should really think about shaving your legs."
updated 9:16 AM EDT, Sat June 15, 2013
George Carlin once said, "I don't automatically wash my hands every time I go to the bathroom. You know when I wash my hands? When I s**t on them."
updated 8:26 AM EDT, Sat June 8, 2013
A lot of people don't know this, but for every 30 minutes of legitimate work, all employees must be allowed one full hour of Internet cat videos.
updated 10:46 AM EDT, Thu May 30, 2013
Sing it with me, kids!
updated 1:03 PM EDT, Fri May 24, 2013
I've been camping countless times in the forest -- as one does -- and without fail, there's always plenty of wood just lying around.
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Fri May 17, 2013
We just can't leave well-enough alone.
updated 4:39 PM EDT, Fri May 10, 2013
There's a great song by Todd Snider called "The Ballad of The Kingsmen." In it, he sings, "Marilyn Manson gets a lot of chicks. They're weird chicks. But they're chicks."
updated 5:37 PM EDT, Fri May 3, 2013
In my bedroom there's an amazing wall-mounted hideaway ironing board. It even has an affixed light and timed electrical outlet for safety. The thing is absolutely brilliant.
updated 3:44 PM EDT, Sat April 27, 2013
"Wow! I totally just watched the awesome cell phone video you shot at that concert!"
updated 6:11 AM EDT, Sun April 21, 2013
We're all thirsty and we don't even know it.
updated 10:56 AM EDT, Mon April 15, 2013
Abraham Lincoln once said, "In life, what counts is the size of a man's heart, not the size of his disproportionate willie."
updated 10:18 AM EST, Sat February 2, 2013
Sometimes pet tortoises vanish for 30 years and end up in a box of records. Still alive. Or they live with San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks.
ADVERTISEMENT