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SimCity 5 Review: “Simulating 1950’s America” in 2013

There's been a lot of buzz in the urban planning community about the highly anticipated release of SimCity 5. The beloved city-building game hadn't seen a new version in more than 10 years. Over that time there's been an explosion in interest in the field of city planning, as well as a tremendous amount of innovation, especially around transportation.

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James Sinclair at Network blog Stop and Move counted himself as a huge fan, and was anxiously awaiting the new version, hoping it would include elements like mixed-use neighborhoods, bus rapid transit, streetcars, and protected bike lanes. Instead, he says, the game is a huge disappointment:

Want to design an urban paradise? Then I hope your dream is a tiny Phoenix, because that's all you're going to get.

Not only did the game not add mixed use, but now density is tied to the kind of road you build (not transit or zoning). Want a modern subway system? Nope, not available, even though every game in the series has let you build one. Streetcars? They've been added - but only running in the middle of a 6 lane "avenue." Pedestrian malls? Of course not, and don't even ask about bikes.

It might be 2013, but Sim City 5 will let you simulate 1950's America, and not much else. Curved roads were finally added to the city - perfect for those new cul-de-sacs!

Resigned yourself to designing a small town? Well forget agriculture - that's also been stripped out of the game. Note the highway at the top of the screen - it can't be modified. The game revolved on the assumption that every city is connected to the region by interstate-highway.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Walkable Dallas Fort Worth shares some charts exploring the relationship between highway miles and how much people drive in American metro areas. MPC's The Connector blog, in light of the new Yahoo directive against working at home, looks at the benefits of telecommuting as an alternative to the single-occupancy car commute. And Rob Pitingolo at Extraordinary Observations imagines how a better pricing system for residential curbside parking might work.

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