Video game developer Maxis has announced a beta period for its upcoming reboot of the open-ended city-building simulator SimCity. It was revealed on the official SimCity Twitter account a little earlier today, and if you’re interested in participating (the beta runs from January 25th to 28th) you just need to click on the link for a full hour of complete access.
To be able to download the beta though you will need an Origin account, the digital distribution and digital rights management system created by EA, and also be on a PC running Windows. There’s no Mac love just yet, although when Maxis releases the full game on March 5 – called simply “SimCity” – it will be available for both Windows and Mac platforms.
The SimCity reboot is an intriguing prospect. Maxis, a subsidiary of Electronic Arts (EA), has built a new simulation engine called GlassBox, and introduced a whole host of graphical improvements that include curved roads and zoning areas, more elaborate buildings and detailed character models.
Cities in a specific region will also be connected to each other through highways, railways and waterways, with in-game elements such as traffic and air pollution moving freely between the cities. The PC classic has never looked better.
One of the most notable additions, however, is multiplayer. It’s the first time that Maxis has implemented a full online mode since SimCity 2000 Network Edition, and will allow for regions that contain multiple cities controlled by different players. The single player mode will be left intact, but this introduction of multiplayer should make for a much more organic and aggressive gameplay experience.
Of course, it also means that whenever you want to play, everyone needs to be online at the same time with a robust Internet connection. Otherwise somebody could just stay up all night once the other players have gone to bed, destroying everyone’s hard work as quickly as possible. You’ve never done that to your own city in SimCity before though, have you?
For a better look at what’s new in SimCity, we recommend watching the following developer walkthrough with the game’s creative director, Ocean Quigley. The man has some rather impressive facial hair, if we do say so ourselves.