SimEarth (PC) review
"Imagine if you will, a newborn planet. It is completely covered in flame and magma. Billions of years pass by in mere seconds, and this lava has hardened into rock. In the blink of an eye, many billions of years have passed once more, and your world is now covered in oceans. Single celled organisms begin to emerge and multiply in the vast oceans. Volcanoes erupt, creating the first continents. New species evolve, and many emerge out of the oceans to become land-dwellers. Forests now begin to cov..."
Imagine if you will, a newborn planet. It is completely covered in flame and magma. Billions of years pass by in mere seconds, and this lava has hardened into rock. In the blink of an eye, many billions of years have passed once more, and your world is now covered in oceans. Single celled organisms begin to emerge and multiply in the vast oceans. Volcanoes erupt, creating the first continents. New species evolve, and many emerge out of the oceans to become land-dwellers. Forests now begin to cover these new landmasses, providing home and food for the animals.
Millions of years pass, and your world has civilization. The years roll by, and your planet is now old, and has many continents with many different species and subspecies. Nuclear fallout occurs and parts of a once pure continent are now radioactive and uninhabitable. The world continues on for many millions of years to come.
And all this happened with the click of one damn button. Welcome to SimEarth!
Maxis should be congratulated for having the idea of a simulation game that involves you running a planet, but should be beaten for the terrible execution of this concept. Being a fan of Sim games for as long as I can remember, I really wanted to like this game. I studied the instructions and help files, but I couldnít figure out what the hell I was supposed to do. What was the point? Running a planet seemed easy enough, but actually having any control over it was a different matter entirely. It managed to be self reliant, almost to the point that it was just a matter of watching.
And this is SimEarthís greatest problem. It gives you hundreds of options from the start, but doesnít actually give them any use, and through the course of the game, you might only press a couple of them. There are many different types of planets you can start out on, and three different stages in the planets growth to begin on. None of these make any real difference to a beginner, so choosing Ďrandomí would be your best bet if you wish to entangle yourself in this confusing mess of a game.
And donít expect any help, because you wonít get it. Youíre as clueless as a young child left in the non-fiction section of a huge library, left to learn on your own, completely helpless and thoroughly bored and overwhelmed.
Being the diligent game player I was, I decided to press on.
A sea of organisms was dividing and expanding, and my world was growing. The only thing I managed to do was to place a volcano. Naturally, it erupted with a crappy visual effect of a few blocks turning into different shades of red, which soon turned brown, as to represent earth left in the volcanoes wake. Okay, so I created an island. What next? I let the world progress a few million years, and it took off on its own, showing me a few messages along the way, about new species of plants and animals. It didnít even feel rewarding when forests and animals covered the island. I placed a few more volcanoes around the ocean, and saw the process repeat itself again and again.
Iíve owned SimEarth for man years, and every time I have played, I have walked away in confusion and frustration. This time, it was different; I took a little more time and effort to try and like the game, and learn how it works. With an instruction book in one hand, and my mouse in the other, I resolved to create a planet. Though I was still completely clueless, I did make a world, and it was progressing fine.
The only problem was that I barely did anything. The level of interaction was the clicking of a button, the rest was just watching. If I wanted to watch a game, Iíd go play the latest Final Fantasy, and delve into a deep story, complete with heroes and villains. But I wasnít doing that, I was playing a simulation game, a game where your interaction is required at least in the start, or your creation will face ruin. I wanted to involve myself in the creation of a world, and I expected to be able to do it.
Now, Iím not stupid. Iíve worked out every other Simulation game that Maxis has thrown at me, and now Iím starting to work this one out. But is this paltry level of interaction it? Am I missing something? I was hoping for some game play, rather than just clicking the odd button here and there, and watching for the next five minutes and becoming bored.
I can see the appeal in this title, as it actually appealed to me. I wish I had the time to learn everything in this game, but for the amount of time it takes, and the lack of reward you get in playing it, thereís very little to stop you from giving up and playing something else. Thereís just nothing here that grabs the player.
SimEarth even fails to grab the player on a visual level. These are the most repulsive graphics Iíve seen in a PC game from 1991. The world is comprised of several little squares, with little to no detail. Of course, at around this time, Maxis has shown us what they can do in games, such as the level of detail in Sim City, where buildings reached up into the sky, and roads and rails crawled along the ground. I also found some music and sound options, but SimEarth was completely silent for me, but it wasnít a big concern, the music of Sim games hasnít been very good in the past, and I doubt itís worth listening to in this game.
SimEarth has no redeeming qualities to be found. If you enjoy clicking a button and watching a bunch of squares change colour, then Iím sure you will enjoy SimEarth. There is also a good chance you received this game in one of the many Maxis Compilation packs that are floating around, and you actually want to get something out of this. Well, good luck to you! The rest of us will be playing something fun.
The premise is excellent; the game is trash.
Community review by jerec (December 17, 2003)
On very rare occasions, Jerec finds a game that inspires him to write stuff about. The rest of the time he just hangs around being sarcastic.
If you enjoyed this SimEarth review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!