Playing SimTower, you are put in charge of the development of a mixed use skyscraper. You'll place a lobby, a garage, stores, office suites, condominiums, hotel rooms, and various support facilities in your building. You'll also build stairs, escalators, and the most important part of the simulation (according to developer Yoot Saito), the elevators.
Controlling the traffic flow inside the building is accomplished by determining the number, location, and run schedule of the elevators. The elevators come in three types: regular, service, and express. Only regular elevators may visit every kind of floor in the building, while service elevators may only visit those floors which have hotel rooms or garbage disposal units. The express elevators may only travel between sky lobbies and the ground lobby.
The interface is a tool bar with a set of drop down menus. Though mostly an open-ended sim, the game's "goal" is to achieve a rating of five stars for your tower. This is accomplished by careful management of the tower and the construction of certain key elements at various stages of development.
Maxis takes their Sim-building line vertical with SimTower, an original concept from Japan (where vertical living is much more commonplace than in many parts of the world). Your goal is to build a skyscraper that is both tall, aethestically pleasing, popular, and, most importantly, economically profitable. To be successful, your building cannot just be levels upon levels of officespace, or just an apartment sky-rise, but a multi-functional haven for humanity featuring everything from penthouses to theatres, restaurants to shopping malls. The centerpiece of your tower design is your elevators and proper managment is the key.
You can watch your Sims enter and leave your grand tower, getting impatient waiting for elevators, or having a hectic work day at the office. You can even train in on one or two, to server as a metering stick for their compatriots, or just to peek into the average workday of the little people living in your building. Or watch the security and resuce crews race as distasters like bomb threats and fires rampage through your well-crafted skyscraper.
I can clearly remember the day I got this game because I was given it as a gift along with SimCity2000. Of course, I took one look at SimTower and sat down to play SimCity. After about two weeks playing SimCity with no success I finally sat down to play SimTower expecting to find the Sim... idea stretched to its extremes, so I was surprised to find SimTower so entertaining and enjoyable.
Anyway, enough memories. The aim of SimTower is to build a hundred story tower block filled with offices, condos, shops, restaurants,a hotel, a cinema and a party hall. Your tower will also need a medical centre, good security, adequate parking and good recycling facilities. The eventual aim is to place a cathedral on the top and win the game.
At the start of SimTower you only have the option to build offices, cafes and condos. I would advise offices as the best place to start as they bring in a weekly rent and the occupants will not be as fussy as those who move into your condos. If you do choose to build condos keep them well away from your offices as the residents will not like the noise of the workers coming and going. Once you have been upgraded to a two-star tower, a hotel is the way to advance. Where offices pay rent by the week, hotel rooms pay by the night so you will see money come in much quicker.
Remember that everyone in your tower is an individual with feelings. If you have 1200 people trying to get into 1 elevator people are going to get stressed. Fortunately, if you have the money, you can put up to 8 elevator cars in one shaft (sounds dangerous to me!) which will reduce those stress levels.
At weekends the office workers will not be in the tower but the shops, restaurants etc. will still be open so think about placing them close to the ground floor, maybe underground. That way people arriving at your tower on a Saturday will not have to take a 80 story elevator ride to get a cup of tea.
There are also a number of random events that can occur, some good, others not so good. Terrorists may bomb your tower so make sure your security is adequate to find any bomb. A security centre is best covering only 6 floors but will be adequate for about 15. After that you will need to build more. On the brighter side you will sometimes find buried treasure when building underground. If not, just look forward to your yearly visit from Santa.
The interface is a fairly standard set of windows. Nothing to get excited about but it does the job well. The graphics are intended to be more functional than good looking but they actually succeed as both. The sound is ok but so basic that you will probably turn it off before long.
While the gameplay is good and of a very high quality there are a few things that weaken the game a little. A three-star rating is fairly simple to get, though it will take a while, but a four-star rating will take so long that you will probably get bored and give up before you get there. When you get to the third lobby at floor 60, you will suddenly find that it is nearly impossible to get an elevator to it because they will all reach their maximum length on floor 59. The game has two speeds. When you open the game it will be in fast mode which is ridiculously fast. Disable this under the options menu and you will find the game is now ridiculously slow. My only solution was to build in normal mode and then switch on fast mode until I wanted to build again.
There is still a lot to this game that I haven't covered, mostly little details that make it even more enjoyable. This game is not one that you will want to play everyday but it is great fun and if you hold on to it is a good game to come back to when you are bored of everything else.
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