April 26, 2018
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This week in video game history: ‘Sim City 4,’ ‘Final Fantasy All The Bravest’

‘Sim City 4’ remains a series high point after 15 years. — Picture courtesy of Maxis / Electronic Arts‘Sim City 4’ remains a series high point after 15 years. — Picture courtesy of Maxis / Electronic ArtsSAN FRANCISCO, Jan 14 — As one franchise’s best game of all time celebrates an anniversary, so does another’s worst.

Released on January 14, 2003, SimCity 4 was the culmination of over two decades of city management know-how.

As with 1989’s SimCity and its two successors, the less predictably named SimCity 2000 and SimCity 3000, players were given almost absolute control over the development of new or existing city plots.

Should players take on the role of a city mayor, greater restrictions come into consideration, while developer Maxis provided closer integration with its life simulation franchise, The Sims through a special game mode.

So comprehensive and well-crafted was SimCity 4 that it returned its parent franchise closer to the genre-defining heights of the 1989 original than its two immediate sequels.

Fifteen years later and the Mac and Windows game is still worth returning to, partly because it remains a high watermark for the series.

A subsequent 2013 release, which also took the name SimCity, got off to such a bad start that it demolished the franchise’s reputation on home computers at least; the unassuming yet decidedly comprehensive Cities: Skylines came along two years later (and in 2017 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One), establishing itself as the city builder’s new gold standard.

But the fundamental Sim City template had already inspired a host of imitators, particularly the Facebook suite of monetised freemium apps like CityVille and MyTown; publisher Electronic Arts got in on the act with SimCity Social in 2012, while 2014’s SimCity: BuildIt maintains its popularity on iOS and Android.

Unlike SimCity 4, 2013’s Final Fantasy All The Bravest did not maintain the high standards of its revered predecessors.

Lavish production values, complicated storylines and multitudinous characters have come to typify the Final Fantasy franchise of role-playing ventures, but as one of Square Enix’s earlier experiments with free-to-play for iOS and Android, All the Bravest was an utter failure.

Constructing a game around a system of micropayment options, rather than the other way around, led to a critical panning when All the Bravest was released on January 17, 2013.

Yet, as bad as it was, don’t think that All the Bravest doomed free-to-play Final Fantasy games on mobile; the fact that 2014’s Final Fantasy Record Keeper was merely decent came as welcome relief and a sign of immediate improvement after the All the Bravest botched landing. — AFP-Relaxnews

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