SimEarth is a very complex game. This is the type of game that really needs a large screen monitor. That is because in order to monitor the planet it is useful to be able to view a variety of maps, charts, and graphs at once. The first thing you will notice is the 200+ page manual. It won't take long to then notice there is a much shorter quick-start guide. Using the quick-start guide is the best thing to do. You should at least mess around with the game before exploring the huge manual. Don't expect to be able to learn everything the first time you play. Many hours will have to be put in to fully grasp every concept.
If you enjoy other Maxis games such as SimCity, that does not mean you will enjoy this game. SimEarth is not SimCity with a planet. Controls are simple as they can all be performed with the mouse, though there are so many options available during play that you can easily get lost. This game is a bit too complex for its own good. SimEarth will be enjoyed by those who like to have a lot of control and don't mind studying large manuals. Causing natural disasters, creating life-forms, and manipulating every aspect of a planet can be fun. At the same time it is also educational. Watching how a planet can evolve over billions of years is interesting.
Graphically this game is not very impressive and it does not have to be. Charts, graphs, and maps consist of almost everything so a lot of the game is text-based. Sounds are also not very entertaining. Most of the sounds are various effects to let you know when something has occured.
If you have ever wanted to create your own planet then SimEarth is the game for you. However, if you are a fan of the Sim series by Maxis you may want to approach this one with caution. None of their other Sim games are this detailed and none of them require as much time to learn as SimEarth does.
Graphics: Charts and graphs are set up well.
Sound: Very simple.
Enjoyment: Overly complex. When you understand everything it can be fun.
Replay Value: Games are long and seven scenarios are included.
SimEarth puts you in charge of an entire planet throughout its 10 billion year lifespan. Your ultimate task is to guide the planet's inhabitants into the stars, from its humble single-celled roots.
The main threats you face include pollution, disease, famine, war and global warming. The controls available to you include the chance to move mountains and continents, creating different levels of species, and unleash tidal waves and earthquakes so as to reshape your planet. All of these things take from your limited energy, which must be replenished.
You enjoyed SimCity but by now you think that a city is just not large enough anymore? Well, then you should have a look at Sim Earth. This is also a simulator but instead of looking at a cute little city, you'll have full control over a whole planet! And I'm not talking about making sure that humans can build up a civilization, no... Sim Earth puts you in control of the planet itself... the geosphere, atmosphere, the evolution of simple microbes into fish, birds, reptiles, mammals and finally intelligent life - evolved out of apes, dolphins, or dinosaurs; this game covers a time-span of billions of years.
Sim Earth: The Living Planet was designed by Will Wright and published in 1990 by Maxis. The program uses the Gaia theory from James Lovelock (for an nice introduction about his theory read 'Gaia: an new Look at Life on Earth' by James Lovelock). The planet itself, including all vegetation and animals, lives as one big organism. And if something changes, either the physics or the biology, everything changes a bit to regain the balance.
Basically, you control the atmosphere (such as sun power and cloud formation), the geosphere (volcanic activity, erosion, and continental drift), biosphere (reproduction rate, mutation rate and split rate) and the likes. Besides, you can place vegetation, add, move or remove different life forms and enjoy watching them evolve. Of course, you are free to intervene if you don't like where it is all going. A respectable number of graphs are available to give you a good idea about what your changes are leading to.
Since this simulator deals with such a huge diversity, it's also a bit more crude than, say, SimCity. That is, for instance, once intelligent life is evolved one can put complete cities at the world. There are no clear goals; just the challenge of evolving intelligent life. Although there is a game-mode, that's not what this game - excuse me... this program is about. Sim Earth is a simulation for hardcore sim players. It's a program with a steep learning curve and a somewhat dry gameplay. But in my opinion, this could not really be prevented without keeping the complexity. If you have some or more interest in science, or just want to play around, and see what happens if the planet would for instance be much warmer, this is a program for you.
To shortly resume SimEarth: The Living Planet (also known as SimEarth: Der lebende Planet, Sim Earth), it's about educational, simulation and ecology / nature. It was done by Maxis Software, Inc. in 1990. Feel free to download and try it!
This more ambitious follow-up to SimCity lets you play God-- take charge of an entire planet from its birth to its death--10 billion years later. Guide life from its inception as single-celled microbes to a civilization that can reach for the stars. Inspired by James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis, SimEarth simulates the Earth as one interrelated living organism. It's a solid simulation that unfortunately suffers a bit from the too-dry gameplay and steep learning curve.
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