It is very popular today for companies to repackage their best-selling games with new features or levels and release them as a "gold" edition. Hopping on the bandwagon is Maxis, re-releasing their very popular SimCity 3000 with a host of new graphical features, disasters, and scenarios. There is a limited upgrade program available to North American purchasers, so the question becomes "is this version worth the extra money?"
New graphical enhancements abound in the game, the most prominent of which is the ability to choose terrain, forestation, and building types when starting a game. Rather than the usual temperate landscape, you now have five different terrain types to choose from, ranging from the normal green pastures to snow, desert, jungle, and more. The styles of trees are an option now - selectable separately from the terrain so if you really want snow with palm trees, you can have just that. Building architecture includes the original style of housing or you may opt to use European or Asian style buildings. New disasters come with all new effects as well; most of which feature some spectacular new animation. I did find some small problems with the new terrain, mostly situations where my cursor would go invisible while constructing. The cursor still existed and was operable, so this was more of a nuisance than anything else. There are not a lot of new sound effects in the package; the ones that do exist revolve mostly around the new disasters.
The basic game plays much like that of the original title. SimCity 3000 Unlimited does however, add 13 new scenarios to the mix. These range from simple fun to the fiendishly difficult. Some, like the Berlin Wall simulation, revolve around real life history. Four new disasters also range from easy to hard and are where a lot of the new graphics and sound come in. These include a plague of locusts, raining debris from space, toxic clouds, and sea-based whirlpools.
The powerful Building Architect Plus tool is installed along with the game and runs separately from the main program. If you get sick of the tile sets that come as part of the game (and have some artistic talent) you can create your own. In addition to the game's graphics, you may also script your own scenarios in the scenario editor. All of these of course, may be exported and shared with friends.
So is SimCity 3000 Unlimited worth the extra purchase? If you have not yet purchased the game at all, definitely. The SimCity franchise only becomes more refined as time goes on, and this is a great value if you are purchasing the product for the first time. If you already own the game and are still playing it, then you will enjoy the new visuals and scenarios. I do not believe, however, that there is enough here to renew interest if you have burned-out on SimCity 3000. If you're an avid fan who is still playing or don't own the game and think it's your cup of tea, then by all means rush out and grab a copy of this title.