SimCity 4
Developer(s) Maxis
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts (PC), Aspyr Media (Mac)
Producer(s) Joseph Knight, Michael McCormick
Release date(s) January 14, 2003 (PC)

June 20, 2003 (Mac)

Genre(s) City-building simulation
Mode(s) Single-player
Media CD, Download
Ratings ESRB: E

PEGI: 3+

Series SimCity

SimCity 4 is a 2003 city-building simulation computer game; the fourth Maxis installment in the SimCity series. It was published by Electronic Arts and developed by series creator Maxis, a wholly owned subsidiary of EA.

Although Will Wright had hinted to further development on SimCity 4, at the end, only 1 expansion pack (Rush Hour) was released in 2003, before the company moved on to developing The Sims 2. Later on, SimCity 4: Deluxe Edition was released, but it was simply the main game and the Rush Hour expansion bundled into one.

To this day, SimCity 4 has the largest fanbase out of all the SimCity titles, with devoted players turning out mods and fixes that Maxis no longer creates. As of 2013, the game is still available in many retailers, as well as for download on sites such as Steam and Origin due to the high demand of this game over other SimCity titles, even SimCity (2013).



SimCity 4 Trailer

The trailer for the game

As with previous installments, much of the previous game's gameplay was retained in SimCity 4. The biggest change was the addition of a regional gameplay. Not only does the player get to negotiate deals with neighboring cities, but the player is also able to build the neighboring cities. Since the player can populate the entire region and is able to rely on other cities, small towns become a viable possibility. The player now has several modes to use, each mode serving its purpose in creating and handling cities.

Civic buildings were also altered. Rather than affecting the town citywide, civic buildings affect only a nearby area. The player can adjust each buildings' individual funding and each building also has a maintenance cost.


God mode

In God mode, the player can modify the terrain with near complete freedom, unlike mayor mode. God mode offers advanced terraforming tools, as well as brushes for trees and wild animals. Players can also perform operations that alter the entire tile, such as erosion. God mode is unavailable once the player has established their city, except with the help of cheats.

Mayor mode

Mayor mode is the main focus of the game. In mayor mode, the player's goal is to construct a city while keeping their budget stable. Players have the power to add zones, roads, and ploppable buildings in this mode. They can unlock extra reward buildings by fulfilling special requirements.

My Sim mode

My Sim mode lets the player create or import a Sim from The Sims and place them into their city to get feedback. If the Rush Hour expansion is installed, players can also access the U-Drive-It Mode from here.


Graphically, the game also improved. Rather than sprite-based graphics, SimCity 4 and its Rush Hour expansion pack employ improved 3D capabilities. The main example is traffic simulation, which entirely uses 3D visuals to render vehicles. However, lights and shadows are not generated real-time and only some buildings automatically orient themselves with 3D positioning. The decaying of buildings is done more realistically, but most graphical details remain pre-rendered.

Compatibility with other games

  • The Sims: Players can import their Sims they created in The Sims, another game from Maxis.
  • The Sims 2: Players can export their city layouts and use them in The Sims 2 as neighborhood terrain. 


SimCity4 launcher icon.png
The original
launcher icon.

SimCity 4

  • PC - Released in January 14, 2003.
  • Macintosh - Released in June 20, 2003.

SimCity 4: Rush Hour

Rush Hour is an expansion for SimCity 4 released in September 2003. This expansion adds several things, mostly transportation related, such as elevated rail, ground highways, and toll booths. Rush Hour also adds some European inspired buildings and U-Drive-It mode.

SimCity 4: Deluxe Edition

The Deluxe Edition was released in September 2003. It is a release of both SimCity 4 and the Rush Hour expansion bundled together with numerous particle effects added and fixed. There were no major bug fixes as part of this release.


SimCity 4 contains 6 pre-made regions, two of which have pre-made cities. New, unterraformed regions can also be created from the region menu and regions can also be imported.


  • Terrain Generator - Allows players to create maps based on any of the forty-eight states of the continental United States and Portugal. The maps are based on maps from the United States Geological Survey.
  • Lot Editor - Allows players to design lots using available props. BAT included an updated version of the Lot Editor, rendering the original obsolete.
  • Building Architect Tool - Allows users to create custom buildings. The program is based on Gmax, a simplified version of 3D Studio Max.
  • Mods - Any programing or files added to the game that change its behavior of play. For example, the Demand Mod allows the mayor to control the amount of demand the city has and there are simpler mods like the suburban realism mod that simply enhances the pattern in which residential neighborhoods developed.


Will Wright stated in 2003 that there would be more expansions for SimCity 4, but that no longer seems likely. In 2004, Will Wright stated that SimCity has gotten too complex and the franchise was going to go in a new direction. To that end, Maxis ended up departing the SimCity franchise and went to develop other games for Electronic Arts such as The Sims: Bustin Out, The Urbz: Sims in the City, The Sims 2 and Spore. In 2008, the controversial SimCity Societies wasn't developed by Maxis, but rather a different developer, Tilted Mill, marking the first time a major SimCity title was developed by someone other than Maxis, which was received with mixed opinions.

Maxis finally returned to the franchise almost 10 years later and released SimCity (2013), a reboot of the series in 2013, ending the string of other developers developing the series. SimCity (2013) has been met with negative reviews, stemming from server issues at the games launch. SimCity (2013) has also been criticized for numerous reasons including limited city map size and online-only play, the latter of which has been made to allow offline singleplayer play by updating the game.

External links

SimCity series
Main series SimCity (Classic) · SimCity 2000 · SimCity 3000 (Unlimited) · SimCity 4 (Rush Hour · Deluxe Edition · The SimCity Box) · SimCity (2013) (Cities of Tomorrow · Plus Edition · Complete Edition)
Console games SimCity (SNES) · SimCity 2000 · SimCity 64 · SimCity DS · SimCity Creator (DS)
Spin-offs SimFarm · SimCopter · Streets of SimCity · SimTown · SimCity Societies (Destinations · Deluxe Edition · The SimCity Box) · The Sims Carnival: SnapCity · SimCity (iOS) (Deluxe) · SimCity Social · SimCity BuildIt