Summer of Sim 2016

This series originally ran on our Steam curation group in June 2016.

By popular request, I’ve spent the last few months playing through a mess of city-building and management games and writing about them for a new review series. Starting tomorrow, I’ll be posting one review a day of simulation games, mostly city-builders but including an eclectic mix of other titles as well. I’ve come to realize this is probably my favorite genre of game, so I’ve put a lot of effort into these reviews and fleshing out exactly what I do and don’t like about each one.

There will be a few conspicuous omissions, just so you know. I’m waiting on GOTY editions of Cities: Skylines and Anno 2205 so don’t expect me to have anything to say about those. I’m also not a huge fan of the Tropico games (as you’ll see) so I won’t be hitting the later entries in that series. Beyond that, I’ll be talking about some major titles, some classics, and a few indie things that I’m pretty sure will be new to you. Additional comments and viewpoints are welcome, as always.

  1. Banished
  2. Startopia
  3. Imperium Romanum: Gold Edition
  4. Port Royale 2
  5. 1849
  6. Cities in Motion
  7. AdvertCity
  8. Anno 2070
  9. Big Pharma
  10. Tropico / Tropico 2: Pirate Cove
  11. The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom
  12. SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition
  13. Knights and Merchants
  14. Patrician III
  15. Stronghold HD
  16. Children of the Nile
  17. Anno 1404 / Dawn of Discovery
  18. Cultures – Northland
  19. Majesty Gold HD
  20. Cities in Motion 2
  21. Stronghold Crusader HD
  22. Grand Ages: Rome
  23. Triple Town
  24. Tropico 3
  25. Cities XL Platinum
  26. Patrician IV: Steam Special Edition
  27. Majesty 2
  28. Stronghold 2 (revision pending)
  29. Prison Architect
  30. Gnomoria




So that’s it. 32 sims over 30 days, and I have to say I’m still feeling good. Those indie platformers in February burned me out pretty bad, but city builders generally don’t have that problem of being tuned to difficult. The genre thrives more on letting people chill and do what they want, and most of the entries this month stuck to that ideal. Older sims tend to suffer more than other genres, I think because there have been so many advances in user experience over the years. The big series have also had plenty of time to iterate and nail down the good parts of their games… for those that didn’t go astray from them, at least.

There’s not much point in doing a good/bad list since most of my reviews were positive, so let’s break it down to specific recommendations. If you want to…

…Chill and build a…
– …Peaceful village, get Banished.
– …Roman settlement, get Imperium Romanum: Gold Edition.
– …Egyptian city, get Children of the Nile.
– …Renaissance colony, get Anno 1404 / Dawn of Discovery.
– …Modern city, get SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition (or really Cities: Skylines but I can’t officially say that).
– …Future settlement, get Anno 2070.

…Wage economic warfare…
– …In the past, get The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom.
– …In the future, get AdvertCity.
– …With drugs, get Big Pharma.

…Trade and make tons of money…
– …In Europe, get Patrician IV.
– …In the Caribbean, get Port Royale 2.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed this tour of Steam’s more constructive games, and maybe even found something new to try. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a few more temples to build and convoys to schedule.

And then I can finally get back to Overwatch.