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SimCity plans big return in 2013

Move over Minecraft! A legendary city-building game is set to make a triumphant return next year.

Concept art from the developers of the next SimCity shows a coal company's headquarters. EA/Maxis Emeryville

Nearly 10 years after the last major SimCity release, Maxis Emeryville and EA unveiled information yesterday about SimCity 4's upcoming successor.

The fifth version of the iconic SimCity is due in 2013, and features a large range of graphic and gameplay improvements over previous generations. One major new feature is multiplayer region support (for up to 16 players). Playing with friends enables challenges such as leaderboards and the ability to "launch a space shuttle or build magnificent wonders," according to EA.

Multiplayer relationships go much deeper, though. For example, you can send fire trucks to another region in a massive crisis. If your city turns into a smog-filled re-creation of Los Angeles, then Sims in a friend's area suffer and experience health problems.

A casino-themed city. EA/Maxis Emeryville

City architects can also choose a theme for each city, such as a casino-heavy Vegas layout, an educational college town, or manufacturing mecca. These choices carry great influence over the "look, feel and core personality of your city," the official Web site says.
Zoom into mayhem created by your Sims. (Click to enlarge.) EA/Maxis Emeryville

Another interesting tidbit about the new SimCity: builders can lay curvy roads, a capability the series sorely lacked prior.

We also see a great deal of chatter in the details about greatly enhanced Sims (due to an enhanced simulation engine called GlassBox): "Now every Sim has a purpose in the SimCity world, a home to go to, a job to work at, even stores to shop in." We hope this doesn't translate into endless pop-up messages during gameplay from concerned or annoyed citizens.

A preorder page for SimCity on Origin confirms several things: a $59.99 baseline retail cost, average system requirements, and a special digital deluxe version for $20 more.

Now playing: Watch this: Game trailer: SimCity