Streets of SimCity
Windows - 1997
Description of Streets of SimCity
For almost a decade now, Maxis has worked to build a franchise on its thoughtful and addictive management simulations, and has earned a respectable reputation for its efforts. However, as a company trying to expand its horizons, the transition to more mainstream action-oriented gaming will not be without its teething pains. By moving away from its strengths, Maxis risks losing itself in unfamiliar water, where the fish tend to grow bigger and the competition is stiffer. Streets of Simcity, an arcade driving game, is the product of the company's most recent efforts. However, the game is plagued with a plethora of problems and will disappoint even the most avid of Simcity fans.
Streets employs an improved version of the Simcopter 3D engine, but while Simcopter is a helicopter simulation, Streets takes on the arcade racing genre with tires smoking and guns blazing. However, in a market saturated with high quality driving games, the advertised feature that gamers will find most enticing is the option to load up and drive in any Simcity 2000 city. For me, the prospect of cruising through one my own creations up close and personal at street level kept me eyeing the release date. For all intents and purposes this promise has been kept, but as I will elaborate upon later, the result is less than ideal.
A Thin Facade
Looking at Streets of Simcity, there are some immediate familiarities that strike you the moment you flip open the manual or boot up the game. However, these similarities aren't necessarily what you might expect or find desirable. Everything from the pseudo-television motif used in the transition screens to the entire TV-show style gameplay featuring characters with names such as Marvin Dufus, Granny O'Hare reminded me of one thing-- Interstate '76. I suppose the comparisons would have been unavoidable in any case. Interstate '76 is, without dispute, one the best driving-combat games of the year, and Streets of Simcity, with its funky cars and big guns, shares a similar set of ingredients. Unfortunately, the game is only imbued with half the wit and rather than charming you with a groovy theme, ends up looking more like a cheesy rip-off.
Streets is divided into 5 different 'programs', each of which are also subdivided into 'episodes'. Each program is an unique scenario with different objectives that must be accomplished, but the basic premises are the same. You must drive though a city and visit a series of hot-spots randomly scattered around the map, while staying alive and destroying enemy cars that cross your path. For example, in one of the programs, Zip Courier Service, your job is to earn money by picking up packages at various locations around the city and then delivering them to their proper locations. You win by earning at least the episode quota within the allocated time period. In another program, Granny's Wide Ride, your goal is to spread word of a secret alien invasion by driving to various spots in a city delivering packages, all the while avoiding the attacks of alien agents. Streets also provides a racing module. You must visit a series of checkpoints within the allotted time without being blown up by overzealous police officers. As you can see, the differences between the programs are quite superficial.
The gameplay itself is quite rudimentary. You drive around the city completing your assigned tasks while avoiding enemy cars. As you purchase weapon upgrades to your car, you can also try to win back the streets by blowing away the competition. The driving controls are fairly standard and you'll have no trouble getting used to them, although the radar map takes a bit of time to adjust to. Once you get your bearings, however, it's simply a matter of cruising the city and reaping in the profits. The architecture is rightfully unyielding when bumped into, although there were a lot of annoying clipping problems. Other objects such as trees and telephone poles can be driven through as if they didn't exist. The enemy cars do not really offer much of a challenge as they seem to want to defend their turf rather than aggressively chase you around town. They are armed, however, and swarms can be deadly, especially if you run out of ammunition. Picking up extra clips and repair bonuses is absolutely essential. I found the gameplay to bore rather quickly simply because it was the same old bag mission after mission. Delivering crates is definitely overrated.
The Sum of the Parts
The game features five different vehicles including a seventies-style muscle car, a couple of racers , and a delivery van. Each vehicle can be upgraded and customised in a virtual garage before missions using the profits you gain throughout the scenarios. Enhancements include better tires and engines, as well as weapon mounts such as the machine gun and rocket launcher. Other more exotic enhancements include an energy shield and a hover device. The upgradability isn't as good as the system employed in Interstate '76 because there really isn't much decision making involved. There aren't combinations of weapons to try out, you simply must buy a rocket launcher and landmines, and a collection of other accessories--end of story. You must also pay for fuel and ammunition, as well as make repairs to your car before the start of each mission, although bonuses for each can be picked up during the game.
Streets also includes a copy of the Simcity 2000 Urban-Renewal Kit (SCURK), a Simcity 2000 add-on released several years ago that served as a graphics/city editor. This effectively allows people without a copy of Simcity 2000 who buy Streets to edit their own levels. Also included is a simple track-editor for converting city maps into race tracks by setting the waypoints, number of laps, time limit, etc.
The game's graphics are simply not up to snuff with the competition. The chunky cityscapes are barren and unrealistic. Some of the building textures are decent, as are the cars themselves, but I can find little else to recommend. And don't be fooled by the 3Dfx sticker, the implementation of hardware acceleration and graphical enhancements in Streets are some of the worst that I've seen. While the 3Dfx graphics are certainly an improvement over those in the software mode, the game simply doesn't stretch the limit or take full advantage of the card's capabilities. Explosions are ugly and look more like showers of confetti than respectable fireballs. The fogging is poorly implemented, and the effects of water seem to have been added in only as an afterthought--there is nothing to fawn over or be impressed by. This, coupled with the lousy gameplay results in a fatal combination.
Also troubling is the game's poor performance. A good frame rate is essential in driving games for the illusion of speed, but Streets does not deliver. Even on a P200 MMX with 32 MB of RAM and an 3Dfx accelerator, the driving was quite choppy. The game stutters every few seconds even with no other vehicles on screen. When enemies do show up, the framerates suffer even more. What frustrates me so much is that there doesn't appear to be any justification for the slowdowns. The graphics are shabby, and the polygon count per building is quite low. Many games with more detailed graphics have faired much better.
The game's soundtrack is average. It was something to listen to during the game, but very forgettable. A couple of the tunes such as the bluegrass-style tracks were of some interest, but some others were really annoying. If I wanted to listen to a bad rock band, the last place I would look would be in a computer game. On the bright side, disabling the music does improve the performance somewhat. The sound effects are also quite boring. All of the appropriate explosions and crashes are present but its all very generic and unimpressive. Occasionally in missions you are also treated with some senseless babble by the main character. I guess I can't really blame Maxis for trying, it worked in Duke Nukem 3D didn't it?
The vehicle physics in Streets are satisfactory, but not nearly as good as Carmageddon 's. The lack of embankments on tight corners and the overly geometric street layouts make turning a chore at times, especially at high speeds. Collisions are also quirky, and there's little conservation of momentum in vehicle-vehicle collisions. However, it's forgivable considering Streets is not meant to be a racing simulation.
A Real Stinker
All in all, this is a very disappointing effort. I kept looking for some redeeming qualities, and received nothing but slaps on the face for my efforts. While I was delighted the first time I loaded my own Simcity 2000 gem, the novelty all too quickly wore off. The game simply doesn't capture the spirit of the series, and Simcity fans will undoubtedly be turned away. Where are the plummets at break-neck speeds from the elevated superhighways? Streets takes the highways and squashes them into humble 4-lane roadways that are the same height as normal roads, but at the same time provides elevated on-ramps that lead no where. Where are the mysterious races into the cities' subway systems? Where are my glorious archologies? Anything to give the game a little more life, some character would have done the game some good. Instead, the only life in the game comes in the form of crash-test-dummie men, hologram trees, and three legged cows. Granted, details such as the few that I have suggested would have ambitious features to implement and taken some innovation, but that's what makes a good game. As it stands, Streets has too little to recommend for it, and as a result, shamefully garners the GDR's Junk Award.
Review By GamesDomain
Comments and reviews
Kevin 2021-05-29 1 point
Download the ISO version and don't install it, just extract it somewhere. Then download the patch at http://www.streetsofsimcity.com/index.html as mentioned before. Works on Windows 10, including music.
Patch only works on the CDROM executable, not the installed executable. So no sense in actually installing it. RIP version just gives you glide errors on modern PCs, and the patch won't recognize it.
mokostroika 2020-11-16 7 points
everyone should try this patch
like simcopter x, it makes running this game on a modern computer super nice.
Masonicon 2019-11-05 1 point
calling this game Grand Theft Auto are like calling Nikola Tesla "Thomas Alpha Edison"
Masterjedi170 2019-09-16 1 point
This game works beautiful ! Thank you everybody for creating updates and making this game work for WIndows 10. Without you guys and the web site having the ISO game, this game would be forgotten. You guys are awesome! :)
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