The 3 Best Modern Alternatives To SimCity

Matt Smith 21-07-2011

Although electronic gaming has been around nearly as long as computers themselves, certain genres tend to rise and fall. Today the first person shooter is supreme, and a parade of military-inspired titles continues to advance on PCs and consoles.


One genre that’s unfortunately withered is the city simulator. This type of game was never a huge success compared to action-packed shooters and real-time strategy games, but it’s always had a place in the hearts of some PC gamers. While the vaunted SimCity series has ended (for now) with the critically despised SimCity Societies, there are a few alternatives to SimCity that carry on the legacy.

Cities XL 2011 [Broken URL Removed]

simcity alternative

If you’re looking for a pure city-builder that’s crafted strictly in the image of the SimCity games, Cities XL 2011 is your only modern option. Developed by Focus Home Interactive, Cites XL is a straight-forward alternative to SimCity 4. Much of what you do is the same. You zone property, you build utilities to support your city, and you try to keep the citizens happy so that people move in rather than out.

Beautiful 3D graphics The Three Best 3D Tower Defense Games For The PC Tower Defense is one of the most popular game genres today, and it’s easy to see why. The basic idea – mowing down enemies as they approach your fortifications – is both satisfying and easy... Read More is this game’s most recognizable feature. While a beefy system is required to run it, the cities are truly beautiful when the game is played at its highest detail settings. In addition to this, Cities XL just has a lot of stuff – there’s many different types of roads, bus routes and public rail options, and there’s even super-buildings and specialty buildings that can jazz up a drab downtown.

Cities XL 2011 usually retails at $39.99 on Steam, which is a bit pricey. You’ll usually find a better deal if you download it from another service, like Amazon, or wait for a sale.


Dawn of Discovery / Anno 1404

games like simcity

This awesome strategy title focuses on the establishment of a city in what could be considered an alternative history of the 1400s – the game is broadly based on the events of that era, but doesn’t refer to them directly. The game is known as Dawn of Discovery in the North American market and Anno 1404 in most other locations around the world.

Despite the old-fashioned setting, the game is a strict and difficult city builder. Crafting a small village isn’t too hard, but as your towns grow and you attract more citizens, you’ll need to pay close attention to your supply chain. Citizens require access to certain goods to be happy, and you also need access to certain materials to construct more advanced buildings. Securing these goods through expansion and trade is the game’s focus.

There are some competitive elements to the game, including ship combat. This is the 1400s, after all. However, it’d be wrong to act as if that was the central focus of this title. Anyone who enjoys city management will likely love this game. Dawn of Discovery Gold can be purchased for $19.99 on Impulse. The original edition is currently available for just $5 on Amazon.


Fans of Dawn of Discovery should also keep an eye out for the upcoming Anno 2070, a futuristic city-builder slated for release by the end of this year.

Tropico 3

games like simcity

Another city builder with a unique setting, Tropico 3 makes you the dictator of a Caribbean island. As the Dear Leader, it’s your job to make sure that it grows and prospers – but in addition to this, you need to handle a number of political factions with different wants as well as your relations with both the USA and the USSR, each of which wants the allegiance of your strategically valuable slice of paradise.

Of the games listed here, Tropico 3 puts the most focus on social engineering. It’s possible, for example, to institute same-sex marriage as a national policy, and all of these different social policies impact how your nation runs. This is reinforced by the aforementioned factions, which tend to react differently to your choices.


This all has the potential to be a bit serious, but it isn’t. Tropico 3 is well known for its sly sense of humor, which includes a satirical in-game radio station that comments on the player’s actions.  Visually, the game is vivid and bright, reinforcing the light-hearted tone.

Tropico 3 can be purchase for $14.99 on Steam. Fans should keep their eyes peeled for Tropico 4, which should hit both the PC and Xbox 360 sometime this fall.

SimCity 4 – Still A Solid Choice

simcity alternative

Although all three of the games above are solid city simulators, SimCity 4 is still a valid option that any gamer should make sure to play if they haven’t already. Though now eight years old, an active community continues to surround the title, and there’s a wide variety of modifications available.
These are the best city builders I’ve played – but perhaps you’ve played one that I haven’t? Feel free to share your favorite in the comments!


Related topics: Sim City, Simulation Games, Steam, Virtual World.

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  1. Godel
    April 23, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    Apparently Tropico was banned in Thailand in 2014 as its theme of a military junta running a country in a tropical region was too close to the bone. :)

  2. SimVids
    August 16, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    With Cities XL 2012 and Tropico 4 launching soon, and rumors of SimCity 5 swirling around, the future of City builders is definitely promising!

  3. Xurn
    August 9, 2011 at 3:35 am

    Anyone still wanting to play SC4 on their newer windows such as Vista or
    Windows7 should try disabling Data Execution Prevention. Search online
    on how this is done. Make a system restore point and be sure important
    files are backedup before making any system changes. It works for me,
    SC4/Deluxe or Rush Hour plays perfectly with no crashes or any problems
    at all. I am also able to play other old games that do not normally work under Windows 7 but when DEP is disabled they run fine for me.

  4. Robert4
    August 6, 2011 at 3:54 am

    Where is Sim City Societies?

  5. Horjo71
    August 1, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    SC4 Bien que déja vieux, est encore la référence dans les citybuilders. Il est, et reste le meilleur pour le moment dans cette catégorie de jeu. Il, offre une tel divercité grâce aux add-on, qu'il est possible de créer une ville comme on veux.
    Qand la relève???

  6. TurtleShroom
    July 31, 2011 at 9:10 pm


  7. Sh0ocking
    July 24, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    cities xl 'you need a beefy system to run it' is disinformation the engine is gimped for modern pc's as it doesnt support multicore

  8. myfacewhen
    July 24, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    you forgot the settlers.

    I think it's much better than anno but ofcourse much worse than the king (simcity 4 ofcourse)

  9. Bruce
    July 23, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    SC4 with essentials from Simtropolis = love :)

  10. Misaka "Railgun" Mikoto
    July 23, 2011 at 8:14 am

    I looked through the entire page, but was somehow not interested in any of the "modern" games. For me, SC4 is still going to be good despite it is now very old, and with latest mods, SC4 will always keep look good. Also, I was not happy with Societies (Never played but I heard that it scores far less than SC4, and it's heavier on specs too).

  11. Mark
    July 22, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Thanks, I've havn't heard of Dawn of Discovery, sounds like it is worth checking out! I also liked CivCity Rome, but found it to be a bit formulaic after a while.

  12. Dan
    July 22, 2011 at 5:25 am

    Sigh, if only I could still play Sim City 2000 (or even Civ 2) in my Win7 x64 system. Most modern sims have less compelling gameplay and relies on eye candy.

  13. Trevor Lenten
    July 21, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    simcity is awesome. one of the first pc games I played as a kid. I still own simcity 4

  14. Dave LeClair
    July 21, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    I still roll old school with Sim City on SNES, always has and always will be my favorite.