From the Database of Home of the Underdogs
GAME DESIGNER:Will Wright
Copyright 1998, Maxis
One of the most original – and most overlooked – entries in Maxis’ blockbuster SimCity series, SimCopter is an interesting and fun simulation that lets you get up close and personal with your own city. Games Domain’s review says it all:
“SimCopter puts the player in the role of a jobbing helicopter pilot seeking a living by moving from city to city existing on the meager payments they receive for such deeds as plucking citizens from the roofs of burning buildings and suppressing riots. As it says prominently on the SimCopter box, Sim City 2000 is not required to play SimCopter as the game comes with 30 cities of its own. Should you already own a copy of Sim City 2000 (and lets face it, who doesn’t), you can load any city you have created into SimCopter and fly through it to your heart’s content. There are two modes of play. In the career mode, you fly through SimCopter‘s own cities trying to earn enough points to proceed to the next city where tougher tasks will await you. When you move from city to city, you take all your helicopters and cash with you. There are ten levels of difficulty, and the player has the option of progressing to the next level of difficulty or moving to another city at the same difficulty level as their present city at the end of the level. In user mode on the other hand, you are flying through a city you have created yourself (or at least downloaded from one of the numerous SimCity 2000 web sites to be found on the net). There is no career to follow but a number of sliders allows you to choose what kinds of missions and their difficulty will be offered to you.
There are nine types of mission in SimCopter ranging from the humdrum (clearing traffic jams) to the heroic (plucking sims from the top of speeding trains) and the fascist (putting down riots). Obviously special equipment will be needed for many of these tasks but luckily there is a shop in your home hanger which can provide you with all the necessities of life as a chopper pilot. All you need is the cash to buy them. You start your career with the smallest chopper in the game, a dinky three seater with the carrying capacity of a gnat. Soon though as the money comes rolling in, you will be able to trade it in for bigger and better things. There are eight helicopters on offer in the hanger but find yourself a military base somewhere in your city and you may be able to lay your hands on something far more suitable for putting down riots.
The gameplay in SimCopter is absorbing and satisfying, but what makes the game a bit special is all the little extra touches Maxis has seen fit to include in the game. Tired of a passenger? Drag them to the main screen using the mouse and you can throw them out. Do this several hundred feet up in the air and as you drag them, a look of terror comes over their features and their hair stands on end. Naturally you lose points if you actually let go. Fly low over the hills which surround the city and you will see that they teem with wild life. The adverts on the radio are highly entertaining, many of them taking sly digs at other Sim games and the comments which emerge from the chopper’s load hailer can sometimes be a bit shocking.
SimCopter actually has a fairly detailed flight model which models things like the effects of having a large bucket full of water suspended 50 feet below your helicopter pretty well. What was drastically simplified was the control system. Basically, you pushed forward on the joystick to accelerate forward, pulled back to decelerate or fly backwards and moved the stick left and right to turn left and right. Two buttons or keys controlled rising and falling and if these buttons weren’t pressed, then the altitude remained the same, no matter how fast the chopper was going or what maneuvers it was performing. In addition, pushing another button allowed the machine to slide from side to side without turning in true DOOM straffing style. To a realism freak like myself, this might have proved to be a damming failure in the game but after about five minutes of playing, I found that I didn’t care. The game was challenging enough as it was and If a challenge was required, I could always try flying everywhere with a full tank of water.
For the dedicated sim player looking for something a little bit different or the action fiend looking for a breaking from endless mindless slaughter, SimCopter has a lot to offer. It is a well thought out polished product which provided a carefully graded long term challenge and in addition offers the player the chance to fly through their own creations.” All in all, a fun game which is much better than Streets of Sim City which came out a year earlier.