Tales of randomness incoming!
I’ve been playing Sim City 4 lately. A game released in 2003, that is now on GoG.com, which was on freaking sale for $5 due to a 75% sale (so to recap: a game from 2003 is normally priced $20 still; very impressive). I think the last great Maxis game before EA completely ruined that studio? Anyway yea, Sim City 4.
Graphically the game has held up well despite using sprites and going no higher than 1600×1200. It’s not blowing any doors down, but it more than gets the job done, and still gets a laugh or two out of me (the random hyper-violent car crashes in particular). It’s stable, I think bug free, and opens/closes/loads quickly.
What I think I’m enjoying most is the sheer difficulty of the game, in that at almost no point am I in a boring too-comfortable zone with a city. Something always needs to be built, and that something always hits the razor-thin budget or creates new strains on support systems like power, water, or crime/fire/health coverage. The game is a pretty beautiful dance in that regard, made even better because some of the major stuff like the top airport or a highway system are absolute resource monsters.
On a higher level, a well-executed city builder like Sim City 4 hits a lot of points I enjoy in a sandbox game. The open-ended decision points, the more freeform flow of the game, the ability to fail due to your own decisions; all of that just works for me. And then depresses me because I need to go back to 2003 to find such entertainment. Do more gaming, do more!