SimCity 4 – Rush Hour (walkthrough)

SimCity 4 - Rush Hour

Full Strategy Guide

Document written by PyroFalkon (
Latest update: 26 February 2004
Current version: 1


v1 (26 February 2004)
First release, yo. (What does "yo" mean, anyway?)


 1. Intro
 2. Claiming Your Land

 3. What do these buttons do?
    a. Landscaping
    b. Zones
    c. Transportation
    d. Utilities
    e. Civic Buildings
    f. Bulldozer
    g. The Panic Button
    h. Everything Else
 4. Getting Started
    a. Infrastructure
    b. Recon
    c. Expanding
 5. Small Towns
 6. Medium Cities
 7. Metropolises and Beyond
 8. The Peanut Butter Point
    a. What To Do About It
    b. An Alternate Method
 9. My Sim Mode
    a. The Microphone
    b. U-Drive It

10. Power Plants
11. Ordinances

12. Zones
    a. Residential Zones
    b. Commercial Zones
    c. Industrial Zones
    d. General Zoning Advice
13. Education
14. Transportation
    a. Asphalt
    b. Highways
    c. Mass Transit
    d. Bridges and Tunnels
    e. Seaports and Airports
15. You Are Not Alone
16. Reader Strategies

17. God Mode Tools
    a. Landscaping
    b. Winds and Global Changes
    c. Reconcile Edges
    d. Disasters
    e. Day/Night Cycle
18. God Mode Strategies and Effects

19. Contributors
20. Version History
21. Copyright Info
22. Contact Info

|                PART 1: INTRODUCTION                |

||1. INTRO||

I've owned Rush Hour since it was released several months ago, but I never took 
the time to update my FAQ for SC4. Why? Probably because I didn't want to. But 
now, I'm a little bored tonight, so what the hey. (And besides, I've been 
getting a lot of mail lately about SC4 and Rush Hour, so maybe I can help some 
people out.)

If you've read my FAQs before, you know what to expect: accurate, reliable 
information; my personal opinions on strategies and techniques; and attempts at 
comedy. As my inspiration told me forever ago, if the game is meant to be fun, 
why not the FAQ too?

This FAQ is going to be a minor overhaul of my pre-expansion SC4 FAQ. In my 
guides for The Sims, I merely added to the content when a new expansion came 
out. For this pair, I won't merely add because I never checked my SC4 FAQ as 
thoroughly as I do most of my guides. In short, if you're used to how things 
are arranged in my original guide, it'll take you a little time to get used to 
the new order, but no content was slashed.


As good of a mayor as you are, there's no way you can start your plans without 
some place to build. All cities start the same way: grabbing a hunk of earth.

The game has no formal title screen. Instead, you're thrown to the region 
screen. This is SimNation, a big huge plot of land that represents not one 
city, but a county, or state, or country, whatever you want it to be. See all 
those gray borders? Every single box is one place where a city can go. Yeah, 
regions are that big.

You could spend your entire SimCity career without touching the topography, and 
that's fine. I was itching to get in the driver's seat and start building 
skyscrapers, so I ignored God Mode and such entirely for awhile. Assuming you 
think like that, I'm touching on Mayor Mode first. That's where you'll be 
spending most of your time anyway.

In the very top-left corner is a compass. Notice that north is to your upper-
right, but it's not at a perfect 45-degree angle. This gives you a rather 
unique view, one you may curse at until you get used to it.

There are four buttons at the top. The one on the left is the Region View 
options. Here you can turn the grid lines on and off, as well as show or not 
show the city names, and even see a region-wide transportation map. You can 
also create a new region from here, load an existing one, or nuke your present 
one off your hard drive.

The second button is only useful if you're on the Net at the same time. It's a 
shortcut to connect you to the official SimCity website, where you can exchange 
regions and cities.

The third button is your quit button. You're not ready to finish already, are 

The fourth button is your options button, where you set the more mundane things 
like graphics details and audio volume, along with a few game assists.

In the bottom-left corner is the name of the region that's loaded, along with 
its total population.

All right, now that you've got all that down, it's time to get some grass. I 
personally recommend that you make a new region (set it to grass), so you have 
a clean slate to work with. Your first town (and any other experimental towns 
or testing towns) you make should be on paper-flat land with no water. That 
gives you the most room to work and gives your sims far fewer problems from the 
outset. Also, by making a region and giving it your own name, it customizes and 
personalizes your playing experience. I'm big on stuff like that.

Once you have a new region or choose to stick with what's loaded, take a look 
at the borders. Notice all the different sizes you can choose. Like a lot of 
spam e-mail tries to make you believe, size does matter. However, unlike that 
same spam e-mail states, bigger is not always better. A huge plot of land can 
get eaten up pretty quickly, and it's quite easy to get carried away in this 
game, especially if you're used to the old SimCities. The smallest plots don't 
provide much room, especially to learn the game, so go with the second-smallest 
plot for now.

Once you click a plot, you're given a few options. If you had clicked an 
existing town, it would give a population, service, and job count, along with 
the town name and city funds. You can also remove it permanently from memory. 
For a new town, you have the option of importing a town you downloaded, or just 
starting from scratch. Obviously, we're starting from scratch here, so hit that 
play button.

|            PART 2: MAYOR MODE BASICS               |

I debated with myself about whether to start out talking about God Mode or 
Mayor Mode first. I decided that if you're reading this, you MIGHT want help 
with God Mode, but you WILL want help on Mayor Mode. Considering that you could 
ignore God Mode entirely and be all right, it made my decision easier.

I write the rest of this document with the SimCity rookie in mind. If you're a 
SimCity 3000 vet, you could skip a bunch of this, but it really would be best 
to read it, or at least skim it. I'm a SimCity 3000 vet myself, and I sure 
could have used this info back when I started due to the amount of changes that 
have been incorporated.


Initially, once you claim land, you can alter it to any way you see fit. We're 
going to ignore that for now and just jump into Mayor Mode, the meat-and-
potatoes of the game. Click the second button in the big three, the one with 
the top hat and rolled-up paper.

A box will pop up asking for the city name, mayor name, and difficulty level. 
The mayor name field is sticky, so if you enter, say, "PyroFalkon," it will 
default to that ANY TIME you make a new city. You can change it, though, so 
you're not locked into it in case you have multiple people playing the same 

For city names, I use the finger method. I close my eyes, spin in circles, and 
point to something. I then open my eyes and name my city after whatever I'm 
pointing at. So, let me demonstrate... Okay, I'm pointing at my stapler. I'd 
name my city Stapleton, or Staplepolis, or Stable City... or if you're a fan of 
the Lakers or Clippers, Stables Center will do. Be creative!

The difficulty affects a number of things. In Easy Mode, you start with 500K. 
In Medium, you've got 200K. In Hard, you've got 100K. It's more than the money, 
though. The harder the difficulty, the less advice your receivers give you, and 
the slower the city grows. Now, prior to the expansion pack, we only had one 
difficulty, and it was the equivalent of Hard, which means Maxis "newbified" 
the game. Bah. I'm a grizzled old veteran. Anyway, once you fill out all that 
crap, hit OK.

Okay, you're in the game now. Fireworks light the sky, marking the debut of 
your term in office! Where to start, where to start?

On the left side of the screen are the mayor's tools. These five huge and two 
tiny buttons together mark everything you can build and zone. I'll go over them 
in detail, but I will not give details to the individual buildings... that 
comes in a later section.

I won't go over the finer points of things yet; this is just button and tool 
explanations. We'll get into the strategies soon.

|3a. Landscaping|

The first big button of the group of five is the landscaping tool. Though you 
have left God Mode, you can still raise and lower the land as you see fit. 
However, it's pretty expensive, and completely unnecessary for your first town. 
Something that does have value though is the tree planter. Throw down a few 
trees here and there to suck up pollution and generally make your city a 
prettier place to live. Of course, that too costs money, so don't go nuts.

New via the expansion pack is the sign and label tools. You can plant signs and 
lay labels anywhere free of charge. I tend to do this to "reserve" land for 
buildings. That is, I have a short memory, so I leave signs as reminders for 
future development. You can lay labels directly on streets and things too, in 
case you want to name specific streets.

|3b. Zones|

The bread and butter of the city, zones are areas that you designate to contain 
certain buildings. The zones are divided into three major categories: 
residential, commercial, and industrial. Residential zones are where homes are, 
where your happy little sims eat, sleep, and poop on a daily basis. Commercial 
zones are office space or stores. Industrial zones are where things are 

Zones are further divided by densities. It used to be that higher densities 
meant richer clients, but that's not the case anymore. Now, a zone's density 
affects ONLY the size of the building. That has a few indirect effects, though. 
If you have a large building, you'll get more people in it than a small 
building. So, although a higher density won't necessarily make richer people 
get in, it will make a higher number of people get in, so you may end up 
getting more money... and more problems. I'll explain.

Low-density residential zones are where most of you probably live. Those zones 
hold places for single homes, anything from trailers to mansions. The taxes you 
generate from here are smaller than from higher densities, but there won't be 
that many sims to take care of, so you won't have super-high traffic or 
anything. Medium residential zones contain small apartment buildings. The high-
density residential zones hold buildings that kiss the sky, so you'll have a 
lot of money coming in, but a lot of people to take care of.

Light commercial zones are for local businesses. These include things like 
local donut shops, auto stores, ice cream parlors, fast food joints, and the 
like. Medium commercial zones contain small corporate shops, such as Wal-Mart, 
K-Mart, Radio Shack, or Best Buy. They also house small office buildings. Dense 
commercial zones hold malls and offices that touch the clouds.

Industrial zones are a little different. The first zone type is agricultural 
zones. Unlike the other industrial zones, these zones can be as big as you want 
them to be. Agricultural zones are nothing but farms that employ few people. 
They give off no pollution, but they provide very few jobs. After the expansion 
pack, farms now pay taxes, but it's not nearly enough to provide a living for 
your city. Do not build farms if you're looking for cash.

Medium-density industrial zones are mostly dirty industries. There are horribly 
polluting industries like resource gatherers, toxic waste dumps, and other 
nasty places. They pay a bit in taxes, but you'll be spending a lot of that 
money on ways to combat the crime and pollution that come with it. 
Manufacturing industries, like car shops, exist in some medium-density zones as 
well. These pollute, but not nearly as bad, and they pay more. The most dense 
zones accommodate cleaner manufacturing industries, as well as the fantastic 
high-tech industries. These don't pollute but do produce vast amounts of money 
for your coffers. Maxis, EA, Microsoft, and such would be in high-tech zones.

|3c. Transportation|

People hate walking, and so do sims. We're in the year 2001 and beyond for 
SimCity 4, so gone are the days of dirt roads and horses. Instead, we've got 
cars and subways!

The top button of the transportation tier gives standard asphalt options. You 
can build roads, streets, one-way roads, and avenues. All four will be 
explained later in the strategy section.

The second button of the transportation tier allows the construction of 
highways. These beefy boys are six-lane elevated roads designed to get sims 
from point A to point B with optimal speed and minimal stops. You need to 
connect highways to asphalt, and to do that requires on-ramps. Highways can 
also be linked to each other via a cloverleaf or T-section, and you build those 
through here too.
The third button lets you ride the rails. You can place down train or monorail 
tracks, but they won't run without stations. Stations, it goes without saying, 
must be directly next to tracks to work. Unlike bus stops, you have to build 
train stations everywhere you want the train to stop, so you'll have to do some 
planning to get it to work. You can also build freight train stations, which 
carry goods to and from the city, but that's an advanced strategy that we don't 
need to deal with at the moment.

The fourth button allows you to build other forms of mass transportation and 
other, transportation-related buildings. We're talking subways, bus stops, 
elevated "el-" trains, toll booths, and parking garages. All of it will be 
covered later.

The fifth button allows you to build an airport. Airports bring massive demand 
to your city because of the tourists and/or businessmen aboard. Again, it's not 
necessary to worry about it for a small city. Airports are a fixed size, unlike 
they were in SimCity 3000.

The sixth and last button lets you build a few sea things. Seaports, like 
airports, help commercial and industrial demands. They need water to work, so 
if you took my advice and started a new region without water, you won't be 
using them for now. Like airports, they're a fixed size, and they're pretty 
darn expensive. You can also build ferries for either sims, or sims and their 
cars. This gives an alternate method for crossing a river aside from long (and 
expensive) bridges, although obviously no ferry can possibly have the same 
capacity. Finally, you can build Marinas here, which gives you access to all 
the water vehicles and attracts rich sims to your city.

|3d. Utilities|

This ain't the stone age. People want TVs and computers, and they need some 
place to power those things.

The first button lets you build a large variety of power plants, along with 
power lines to link the plant to your zones. Most of the power plants are 
grayed out for now because they have prerequisites that go with them, and 
obviously as a young city you don't have much going for you. Explanations of 
the plants come later.

The second button lets you build water structures. There's not much there, and 
we'll go into more details when water becomes important. Until then, your sims 
can suck water out of the ground after it rains.

The third button is for garbage disposal. The quick and dirty (literally) way 
to deal with trash is to zone for landfills the same way you zone for other 
things. You can also build incinerators to burn trash, though that gets 
expensive and stinky. You could also get a waste-to-energy converter to make 
trash into electricity. Finally, you can plop down a couple recycling centers 
around the city and hope your sims give a hoot and save a tree.

|3e. Civic Buildings|

Civic buildings give services to your sims. They have specific sizes and uses, 
and require some planning to be used effectively. The Big Four services that 
every large city needs is police protection, fire protection, education, and 
health care. All that is taken care of here.

The first button lets you slap down a few police stations and jails (sorry, no 
donut shops). You can go with small stations at first, but soon the crime will 
be a little too large and will need a bigger place to deal with things. All 
stations aside from the new Police Kiosk have small internal jails, but those 
will quickly fill up, so you eventually need to build jails eventually to keep 
criminals behind bars and off the streets.

The second button is your fire department selection. Again, you can make a 
little station that serves a neighborhood or two, but large cities need large 
stations or airfields.

The third button is your educational department. Schools come in three major 
varieties: elementary schools for the kids, high schools for the adolescents, 
and city colleges for the young adults. Education is pretty expensive, so make 
sure your other needs are suited to first. You can also build libraries and 
museums here, which assist adults and senior citizens from getting stupider 
than rocks.

The fourth button of the civic buildings tier is for the city's health. You can 
build tiny clinics, or decent hospitals. You'll also eventually be able to 
build a disease research center, which assists your other health buildings in 
extending your sims' lives.

The fifth button leads to real-world landmarks that help attract tourists and 
businesses to the town. Unlike in SimCity 3000, these cost, both in initial 
price and maintenance, and some are astronomical. You can only have one of each 
per town.

The sixth button gives you access to rewards... once you meet the requirements, 
anyway. You can also build business-deal buildings such as casinos and malls, 
although those aren't listed initially.

The seventh and final button is where you can build recreational buildings and 
sites. Green cities make the environmentalists happy, especially because they 
cut down the pollution poisoning the city.

|3f. Bulldozer|

The first of the smaller buttons is the bulldozer. This is your destruction 
tool, used for taking out trees, buildings, pipes, power lines, and everything 
else in your way. This does NOT remove zones. To do that, go into any tool that 
lets you BUILD zones, and you'll see a tool called De-Zone. Using that, you 
will remove the zone entirely, including buildings on it.

A note: You cannot de-zone a landfill unless it is empty of trash. If you need 
to get rid of a landfill, first isolate it by destroying all roads touching it. 
After a few game years, the trash will fully decompose, and THEN you can de-
zone it.

|3g. The Panic Button|

During a disaster, you have to react fast and send out the appropriate 
emergency teams. Whenever there's an emergency, used the options in here to 
send your boys in blue and/or yellow to their targets. In SimCity 3000, there 
was an emergency siren here as well, used to warn the city when a tornado or 
alien attack threatened their lives. It's been removed, so you don't have to 
stress about hitting a warning button the instant disaster looms.

|3h. Everything Else|

The buttons under the tools won't be messed with too much, but I'll explain 

The button on the left re-enters God Mode. However, it's a VERY limited 
version. You can start disasters, reconcile the city edges (talked about in the 
God Mode section), or nuke the city. If you decide to nuke your city, it's a 
PERMANENT decision, so be really careful with that command. You can also enable 
or disable the day/night cycle the graphics go through. If you have a dark 
monitor, you may want to force the world to stay in the day the whole time so 
you can see what you're doing. Doing so will not change the internal clock that 
your sims live by.

The middle button takes you to Mayor Mode, with the tools. The third button 
takes you to My Sim Mode, which I'll get into later.

Below that is a pair of buttons with question marks. Those are your query 
tools. The top one is your standard query. Click that, then click a building to 
get some REALLY valuable information about it. (Added to the expansion is a 
power of that query button. If you query an abandoned building, you'll now be 
told WHY it was abandoned, so you can fix the problem.)

The other query tool is the route query. Clicking any piece of transportation 
will tell you where cars or whatever are coming from and where they're going to 
if they travel over that piece of road or rail. Clicking a building shows any 
and all vehicles that come to or from the building and what route they take. 
The query tool alone is almost worth the price of the expansion pack, and can 
be used to plan mass transit routes. I'll get into that later.

In the very bottom-left corner is a mini-map. There are arrows where you can 
rotate it, or zoom in and out. There are also speed settings near there, in 
case you want time to fly.

Finally, you have your options button. You can save the city, exit to the 
region, exit to Windows, or alter your options.


Okay, now you know how to at least throw down buildings, so let's start zoning 

|4a. Infrastructure|

The first thing you need is a power plant, so click the Utilities tool, then 
the Electricity button.

As a new city, you have access to only the most basic plants: wind, coal, 
natural gas, and oil. This is your first big decision: what are you most 
interested in? If you want a clean city, stick with wind or natural gas. If you 
just want to get a high population quickly or want to save money, go for coal.

Whatever you choose, find a nice corner of the map and plop it down. City edges 
are absolute, and pollution that spills off your map does NOT enter adjacent 
cities. This way you can remove almost half of the building's pollution from 
the start. If you chose windmill plants, you'll need several, but if you chose 
anything else, just one will do.

Now that you've got some power, you'll need to zone land so your sims know what 
to build where. Sims, like real humans, have the NIMBY opinion when it comes to 
power plants: Not In My BackYard. Do you want to live next to a stinky coal 
plant? Neither do sims.

Go a fair distance away from the plant and build your first industrial zone. I 
always start with dirty industrial zones to get a solid foundation of the city, 
then expand outward. Your industrial zone or zones should be large enough to 
support a decent influx of people, but they shouldn't be so large that your 
town is flooded with smoke. I normally go with two or three 8x8 zones that are 
fully enclosed with roads (not streets).

Those will go up, but they have no place to give their finished goods. You need 
to build some commercial zones, but right now you'll have nothing but tiny 
local businesses. Go some more away from the industrial zone in the direction 
opposite the power plant, and build a few commercial zones of light density. 
Let the computer build streets as it needs to; you can take finer control of 
that aspect later, once you get more accustomed to the way things work.

Once that's ready, both the industrial zones and commercial zones need workers. 
Build a large number of light or medium residential zones as close to the 
commercial zones as possible on the side opposite the industries. That way, 
your people won't be smelling like smoke TOO badly, if at all. Again, let the 
computer build streets as it needs to. However, make sure you build roads that 
connect all the zones to each other. You'll also need one road that links the 
power plant with the rest of the city.

Within a month or three, you should be getting your first people and 
businesses! Woo hoo! Let your city run awhile, because you'll have to wait for 
things to happen before you can take additional steps. If you're impatient, 
speed the game until you have a few hundred or few thousand people.

|4b. Recon|

A mayor is only as good as his or her information. You need to be provided with 
detailed maps and such of situations, and luckily, it's all there for you!

With Mayor Mode active, check out the stuff to the right of the buttons (on the 
bottom edge of the screen). You're presented with several things: your mayor 
rating, the city's cash, the city's population, the RCI meter, six status bars, 
and six small buttons that provide information.

Your mayor rating is based on a scale from what I guess is -1000 to +1000 that 
rates your overall general performance. The six status bars to the right are 
heavily weighed for your mayor rating, but it's not that simple of a 

The money and population counts are self explanatory, but the RCI meter is not. 
The RCI meter provides you with a GENERAL opinion of the situation of the city. 
The taller the bar, the more that zone is in demand. The lower the bar, the 
less it's demanded. Bear in mind that no other situation is taken into account: 
even if you fill up every square inch of your city's boundaries with something, 
the RCI meter will still be active. You can click the RCI meter to get even 
more detail about what's hot and what's not, but don't get too dependent on the 
details. For example, if nothing but farms are being asked for in the industry 
zones, but you don't want farms, just ignore the demands. The sims will just 
have to deal.

Okay, onto the six small buttons. The first one, in the top-left corner, is the 
building style control. Here you can affect the appearance of buildings that 
are built in your city, and when they rotate. Once you click the button, be 
sure to click the title to expand the window so you can see the four styles 

The second button, the one with a person, is your advisor screen. They give 
frequent reports about everything in their departments. If their picture is on 
a green background, they're happy about things. If the background is red, 
they're none too pleased. If it's blue, they don't care one iota either way.

Click on any one of their pictures to get a list of their reports. As a new 
mayor, their first reports are just introductory resumes, where they tell you 
what they do and what they watch for. As time goes on, they'll make real 
reports about different things as they need to.

The third button takes you to your budget. You're given a simple chart of your 
current money, your monthly expenses, your monthly income, and your projected 
total after the month ends. Obviously, you want your income to be higher than 
your expenses, but young cities will struggle in doing so.

You can get a more detailed look at your budget by clicking the small report. 
The screen will expand and show your expenses and incomes, and you can further 
go into detail. I'll worry about that later as well. For now, just click the 
fourth button in that group, the one in the top-right corner with the grid.

This is your data view, or map. You can see various aspects of your city 
through this to hunt down problems or see successes. As an example, click the 
traffic option. You'll see which roads and streets are more traveled than 
others. Red routes mean the path should be upgraded, whether that means 
changing a street to a road, or adding bus stops, or something else.

The fifth button takes you to a bunch of charts and grafts. This is where you 
can get a general breakdown of people or services. Wanna know how your crime 
rate compared to five years ago? You can do that here. The sixth button of the 
group takes you back to your mayor rating and the six general city status bars.

Use this information as much as you need to. There's plenty of trouble that can 
happen, and the sooner and more you know about it, the better. Don't use it 
just to figure out what's wrong, though. See what's right, and make sure you 
don't tinker with what's working.

|4c. Expanding|

With the city doing its thing, it's time to start planning for improvements. 
The Big Four Services are still not needed, but the time is coming short. For 
now, just look to see what can be expanded. Plan out new neighborhoods, new 
industrial zones, and new business sectors. Zone them once you can see them in 
your head. Don't bother zoning for new places if the ones you already have 
aren't full. My experience tells me that residential zones will fill up 
fastest, so you'll have to be zoning for more houses first.

The only thing aside from zones you'll want to build at this second is a 
landfill. Garbage becomes a problem fairly early, so you'll need to take of 
that one as quickly as possible. Build a sizeable landfill (one worth about 
$1000) near the power plant. Make sure to give it road access as well.


Once your population hits around 500 people, your people will give you a 
mayor's house. 2000 people later, they will start grumbling about cops and 
firemen. Not one to be heartless (especially after the neat gift they gave to 
you), you need to take your sims' lives out of your hands and put them in 
someone else's. Education isn't much of an issue at the moment, but your sims' 
safety is. After all, if they get burned up, who's going to be around to pay 

The first thing you need to build is a fire department. Click the appropriate 
buttons, then select a small fire department. Take a look at it as you drag it 
around the landscape. See the big circle around it? That's the range the fire 
department has access to. It's scalable, so a fire starting two doors away will 
have a better chance of being stopped than a fire on the fringe of the radius. 
Place the building in such a way where you can cover the whole town (especially 
the power plant) if you can. The worst fire hazard is probably in the 
industrial zone. If your city is really large, place a second small fire 
department directly next to your power plant. The last thing you need this 
early is the complete loss of power.

That second fire department does not need to cover its full radius if it's 
right next to the plant, so I'll teach you how to make it a little more 
efficient. Click the query tool (the upper question mark button near the mini-
map), then click the station. There's a bar that lists its local funding, which 
is currently $125 per month. That's way too expensive for a station that has 
only one objective, so let's fix that. Click and drag the little box to the 
left to lower the building's funding. Notice that the radius shrinks as you do 
so. Don't lower it too much, or else the people will go on strike.

I'm sure you have a large amount of money left, so build a police station now. 
Get a small one and place it so it too covers the whole city if possible. Favor 
the residential zones if you have to; dirty industries can operate well even 
with limited crime, but the residents can't.

By now, your people should be going along smoothly, and your people are ready 
for new challenges. You don't have much for kids to do, so build a few parks or 
plazas around the town. Unlike previous SimCity games, each rec area costs 
monthly, so don't go nuts. About five small parks will do for now.

Kids can't just play, of course. You'll need to give them some knowledge to 
fill those little sims heads... so they can then get good jobs and pay you 
fortunes in taxes.

I need to stress this, though...


It's VERY easy to go overboard in SC4, especially if you're used to SC3000 or 
before. The thing you have to realize is that sims, especially in the early 
stages, do NOT need schools or health care. (For that matter, they don't need 
police protection this early either, but police coverage is cheap, unlike the 
other two.)

The reason most cities fail is because their mayor tries to go too big, too 
fast, and that causes major losses in finance. You can gauge your city's 
financial progress using a simple method. Do not build any school or medical 
clinic until you are making at least $1000 PROFIT PER MONTH. Any less, don't 
even bother.

Once you are making at least $1000 per month, it's time to address the 
education issue. Build a SMALL elementary school, and make sure you place it so 
it only covers residential areas. Commercial and industrial zones don't breed 
little sim kids, so it would be a waste to put a school too close to those 

Once the school is placed, grab your query tool and examine the building. The 
radius is determined by the bus fund, and lowering it any will catch up with 
you in the end unless you monitor it VERY carefully. The main funding affects 
how many students it can hold.

I have a simple formula for determining school funding. First, make sure the 
radius can cover the whole residential area. Only take away bus funding if 
shrinking the radius will not uncover any residential area. Second, use maximum 
funding for 3 months. That'll hurt your budget a bit, but you'll be okay. 
(That's why you should be making at least $1000 a month before starting this: 
to ensure that you have plenty left over.) Third, after three months pass, 
check the funding again. Adjust it so you have enough capacity to hold 50 more 
students than you currently have. From then on, any time you're alerted that 
the funding is too low, bring it up again to make it 50 more than the current 
number of students. If you put in more funding than that, you're just wasting 
it, and at this stage, every simoleon counts... especially with schools, where 
the costs are so bloody high that you might wonder why you bother with it in 
the first place. Trust me, though, that education will pay off... you just 
won't see it in the short-term.

After you initially build your school, there's nothing more to do for now. Let 
your city run itself for awhile. Hope for a profit, but know that your large 
treasury will hold out for awhile as long as you didn't go crazy with building 
things earlier.

Do nothing until you're again making $1000 profit a month. With the school in 
place and running smoothly, land values will rise, and all residents that the 
school covers will start paying much more in taxes without complaint. (I think 
real life is like that too. Most people don't mind paying more in taxes as long 
as the money actually goes to something worthwhile.)

Anyawy, once you're making the money you need, put down a hospital (NOT A 
CLINIC) to cover the residential area. The radii of hospitals have increased 
thanks to the expansion, so they reach a much larger area for the same price. 
Still, adjust the ambulance funding to make the radius tightly cover the 
residential zones, like you did the school. Once a few months pass, adjust the 
main funding to hold the current number of patients plus 100.

Placing the hospital too will increase land value and taxes further, and the 
hospital will soon pay for itself as well.

Sim the game for awhile until you get roughly 3000 people. (If your population 
deadlocks before that, you probably have too few residential zones). Once you 
hit that milestone, your sims' throats will feel a little too parched. Fix that 
by giving up some cash to build a water pump. Water towers are cheaper, but 
offer much less water. (Only use towers if you're playing a city in the 
smallest land size.) Choose a site far away from pollution, or else black 
liquid will come out of the faucets, and I'm not talking about oil.

Once the pump is placed, use water pipes to connect your tower to the rest of 
the city. Water pipes have a six-tile radius, so you don't have to cover every 
square inch of your land. An old strategy that I used to subscribe to is to 
line your roads with water pipes; that way, you can guarantee that every 
building is watered. However, since you have a monthly fee for every section of 
pipe that is laid in the city, you can't do that anymore, at least not starting 

Sometime during this part, you'll probably be offered to build a church and/or 
graveyard. They take up valuable land and don't pay taxes, but they improve 
your people's morale. As everything, it's up to you; personally, I always build 

All right, your sims now have the Big Four Services, as well as garbage 
disposal and water. Everything is in place to make your city run... but there's 
probably one major problem you've got, and it plagues all young towns no matter 
how well experienced the mayor is: money.


With the services in place, you're probably making more than enough to fund 
those services, but you may not be making enough to really get a nice nest egg 
going to expand the city. That's what this section covers: getting enough cash 
to expand to the next level.

For the first step, I'll teach you about a really, really nice tool. Click the 
Data View tab (the top-right one in the batch of sixth), then click the 
Desirability category. Here you can see which class of people want which plots 
of land. Generally, the low class will be happy anywhere, and the rich class 
will only be happy with places provided with the Big Four Services.

If you built your police station, fire department, school, and hospital 
relatively close to each other, the land value for the radii is astronomical. 
High land values attract richer people, but you can't soak their cash from 
their rich little fingers if they have nowhere to live. Either start spending 
money to expand zones outward (make more zones), or expand the zones upward 
(make them denser). Spend any remaining money you have to do so. Remember that 
if you want to make them more dense, you DO NOT have to destroy the existing 

Once you've upgraded the residential zones, upgrade your commercial zones as 
well. Be aware that you'll need more commercial zones also; your city gets more 
and more commercial as the years go by, especially in the early days. Reasons 
are explained later. With all that expansion, you cannot neglect your 
industrial zones. Expand, expand, expand.

Your city is gaining physical size pretty quickly, so consider upgrading your 
fire department and police station to their larger cousins. One large police 
station or fire department covers almost an entire city built in the smallest 
city size. If you took my advice and are playing on the second-smallest plot, a 
large station effectively covers a quarter of the map. Feel free to upgrade 
your police station and primary fire department, but you may want to leave your 
small fire station that is guarding your power plant. Of course, if you CAN 
eliminate it through intelligent fire coverage, feel free. Unlike zones, you'll 
have to destroy the original building to replace it with a bigger version.

Avoid upgrading your school for now. It will just eat up your money. However, 
you SHOULD increase its funding if it's running at or over capacity. Your 
hospital should be doing fine, although you need to watch its funding as well. 
Don't build a second hospital yet, as it would just eat up money quickly.


For better or for worse, the rest of the game is reactionary. I've found that 
generally the more you try to make things happen (the Peanut Butter Point 
excepted), the worse they get. Don't force the issue; if you're impatient, just 
speed up the sim time for awhile.

The goal of the game is whatever you want it to be. Assuming you want a 
friggin' large city, then you'll have go slow and steady. From your medium city 
that you've got running, expand outward. Try to fully envelop the radii of your 
services before seeking out new places to conquer. Keep those land values up, 
the rate of expansion down, and you'll have success!

After you get done upgrading your services, you may find yourself in the red. 
Rest assured that it's normal and easy to recover from if you're smart. Take 
out a loan, then prioritize zoning or building money-making ventures. The 
easiest way to gain cash is through taxes, so keep those zones filled at all 
times. Only stop zoning if you're short on cash or there are still empty zones 
for you.

Keep tabs on the population by listening to your advisors. They really do know 
what they're talking about, although catering to everyone's wishes will leave 
you broke. Pick and choose what you believe will be the most effective 
strategy, whether that means blitzing for cash, or blitzing for people, or 

One thing that I've noticed make people more happy than anything is education. 
I detail education and its entire role in your city in a later section.


In all four SimCity games, there's always been one problem that stumps most 
rookies and many vets alike (myself included). Unless you've got a tiny city or 
are ridiculously lucky, you will come to a point where the city will simply 
stop growing. Your education levels will level out, your hospitals will be 
exactly where you want them, all zones will be filled but no more will be asked 
for, and you'll be getting a steady income with average-or-less complaints 
about tax rates. The city becomes stagnant as far as growth goes; it becomes a 
sticky trap, where nobody comes in, no one leaves, and everyone reproduces 
enough to replace the dead. The stickiness is what I call the "Peanut Butter 
Point." Get the pun? Ha ha ha!

A-hem. Anyway, the Peanut Butter Point is deadly, because you may think your 
game is over. It seems that if you try to make any additional zones or other 
things, no one wants them. If you take stuff away, then you're defeating the 
purpose. What's the point of continuing? Of course, you can always start a new 
city, but I don't like doing that until every single tile within city limits 
has a purpose.

Okay, let's say you've got a good-sized city going. Even if it seems no one is 
moving in, you may not have hit your Peanut Butter Point yet. Here's a 

-Are ALL your schools funded enough to avoid overcrowding?

-Are ALL your hospitals funded enough to avoid over crowding?

-Are ALL your libraries and museums funded enough to give the people what they 

-Do you have enough police stations and fire stations to cover your whole city?

-Do you have enough jails so they have room to accommodate more prisoners?

-Is your trash amount under your capacity?

-Are you getting few (if any) complaints on the tax rate?

-Are all zones and buildings powered and watered?

If the answer to any of those questions are no, then the problem(s) is/are easy 
to fix. Of course, if you answered yes to all those questions, here's the 
second (shorter) list...

-Are ALL your zones set to maximum density? (assuming you want maximum density; 
farms can't be in areas that dense, of course)

-Do you have an airport complimenting your commercial sector?

-Do you have a seaport complimenting your industrial sector? (assuming you've 
got water access)

If the answers to those questions are "yes" also, then you've hit your Peanut 
Butter Point.

|8a. What To Do About It|

The Peanut Butter Point is not the end of your game; in fact, it's the start of 
a whole new set of challenges. I personally love dealing with it.

The first thing you need to do when hitting that point is not to panic. In my 
rookie days, I used to think that the reason people weren't coming in was 
because there was something wrong with my policies. So, I lowered tax rates, 
issued more ordinances, built tons of parks, and generally threw in a whole 
bunch of stuff to make everyone happy... or so I thought. Between the lowered 
tax and new ordinances, though, my money well quickly ran dry.

The question you're asking by now is, how can you make your city overcome that 
Peanut Butter Point. A common phrase in comedy and the entertainment industry 
in general is "Leave your audience wanting more."

Concentrate on what is RIGHT in your town. There is very, VERY seldom the 
perfect city. If you've hit the Peanut Butter Point, it's not because the city 
is too bad, nor is it that your city is too good; it's because there's too much 
of a balance between what you have right and what you have wrong. I hate saying 
this, but for the sims' own good, the best way to make your city get out of its 
sticky trap is to piss everyone off.

Before starting, make sure you have plenty of cash. This method can get a bit 

Find the best part of town. Just check the map and look for whatever place has 
the highest land value and highest city aura. If you have multiple spots, pick 
an area that is pretty big, but not the biggest. Call this place "Ground Zero." 
Find out why the land value is so high; it's usually high education and low 
crime. Grab the keys to your trusty bulldozer, start that MF'er up, and give 
the kiddies a permanent vacation from school--break open the jails too, while 
you're at it.

I know it sounds crazy, but trust me. Let the city be confused for awhile. 
They'll complain and yell about how crappy the town is, but believe it or not, 
that's what you want temporarily. Take some money (in your coffers, if you can, 
NOT a loan), and go to some land that is unoccupied. Start a "new city" over in 
that corner. Pretend you're starting a new game, just with an inflated bank 
account. Build a new, cheap power plant. Build some zones of all three flavors, 
use streets instead of roads, avoid any police or fire coverage, and refuse to 
give them any education. Meanwhile, head back to Ground Zero and take out a few 
dozen parks or so... Do NOT re-zone or destroy any existing RCI buildings.

After a few months, the city aura and value in Ground Zero will just absolutely 
plummet. However, your sims try to move across town before across the nation. 
They'll see that new little area you've got developing in the corner of the 
map, and they'll take interest. While they're thinking of the good ol' days, 
cut off their water.

Back at the new colony, start giving the most basic of the Big Four Services: 
one elementary school, one clinic (not a hospital yet), one small police 
station, and no fire stations... well, maybe a small one, if you feel sorry for 
'em, and to protect the power plant. You MIGHT already have a few people coming 
in, but still not enough to make you get out of your trap.

After that little colony is established, expand it out. Again, pretend it's a 
new city; just ignore that big mess of people on the other side of the river. 
Build some parks and other recreational areas, and raise the zones' densities 
now and then. Once it looks pretty solid, build a road that connects this 
little colony to the main city. Get a subway connecting the two also if you can 
to make any commuter stupid enough to make THAT trip happy.

People will start to come into the new colony SLOWLY. This is not an instant 
method here, it takes some time. But, while you're biding that time, you can 
help out other sectors. For example, one thing that's commonly overlooked in 
SimCity 4 is your industrial zones' distances to freight access. They like 
being close to extra-city connections, especially railroads. If that's not an 
option, they want a freight station (linked to a railroad going out of town, of 
course) that's very close by. Try to improve that too.

Eventually, the demand will be met for the colony, but because it was smaller 
than Ground Zero, there will still be demand for the city as a whole. Your 
instinct will be to start upgrading stuff around the colony (like bigger police 
stations and such), but don't. If you feel the need to give them SOMETHING, let 
'em have water. Otherwise, that's the ghetto of your city; let it suffer for 

So, to fill the rest of that demand, you need to restore Ground Zero. Work 
backwards: give them back water, then parks, then their services. Do it slowly 
enough that the area doesn't get flooded, but work fast enough that no one 
forgets the place exists. I find that restoring one part of Ground Zero ever 
three to four months works the best. In time, people who moved to the colony 
will move back, or the newcomers who started in the colony will move into 
Ground Zero. That will free up room in the colony, and it's STILL cheap land 
for the poorer classes to afford.

Once Ground Zero is restored, start upgrading the colony to make it a full-
fledged suburb, or maybe a large city of its own. The main thing is to keep low 
land value areas that are ripe for the poor to live in. This way, you're always 
"leaving your sims wanting more." They want better education or whatever in the 
new colonies; don't give it to them unless 1) it's all that's left for your 
city borders, or 2) you have plenty of low-value area as well.

|8b. An Alternate Method|

The thing about the above method is that it's risky. If your Ground Zero is the 
heart of the city, then everything will end up collapsing, and you may never 
recover. It's ridiculously expensive too, because you'll be going on 
abbreviated taxes until everything gets restored.

There are a couple more tips I can offer if you don't want to risk the above 
technique, or you don't have the cash. This is a little less sure and slower, 
but if the sims don't bite, you won't lose nearly as much. The basic thing is 
that you still have to force the sims' polygonal hands. There's no Utopia; all 
cities can be improved. You have to isolate one part of the city and make it so 
damned attractive that anyone who's anyone will want to live there.

Find an area like Ground Zero above, the best of the best districts in your 
city. Double-check all its civic buildings and services. Check the roads and 
intersections. Check freight times for industrial zones and commute times for 
residential zones. Improve the obvious first.

Next, look for ANY spot of yellow on the crime map. It doesn't matter how big 
or small. Take out whatever building is on top of the area no matter what it is 
and plop down a large police station with $250/month funding. If there's a 
region of parks, take them out and try to get in zoos or stadiums or something 
bigger instead. Find the corner of the area that's just the SLIGHTEST below 
maximum value, take out all buildings directly at the area, and purchase a 
landmark to put there. If you put a landmark near that high-value area, 
especially near the fringe, then you'll really make people want it.

You can also look to steal people away from other cities. Enact a few tourist 
ordinances, give them a year to kick in, then zone and build a colony like I 
stated above. The tourists will stop by and see your city, drool over it, and 
want to be a part of it. Give them a place to go, and you'll have growth faster 
than you can say "Choosy moms choose Jif."

Oh, one more thing. Get rid of any business deal buildings if you can, such as 
casinos or toxic waste dumps. Large cities shouldn't need them, and you'll make 
the general aura of the ENTIRE city better by tossing them. That alone can do 
wonders for growth.

||9. MY SIM MODE||

By clicking the third button in the main group of three (it's to the right of 
Mayor Mode--it has a picture of a pair of sims), you can insert a sim into your 
city and get one-on-one advice. This provides you with exacting detail about 
one part of town, and you can hear about problems a little sooner from your 
little sim than your advisors. I normally keep about two or three in my larger 
cities to stay on track, though I normally know about their problems before 
they tell me.
Prior to the Rush Hour expansion, the My Sim Mode fell partially short of its 
goals. Your sim was fairly worthless about giving you problem reports, with 
information limited to "no school," "no police protection," and the like. 

My Sim Mode has gotten beefed up, though. Your sim is very helpful now, 
accurately telling you how to run the part of town he lives in. You can also 
send him out to a particular part of the city (of your choosing), and you'll 
see a word bubble over his head as he tells you what's good and bad about that 
part. Finally, you can give him a destination, and he'll drive it, which will 
show you what route he takes and whether there's any traffic problems along the 

Also, your sims are no longer stuck in the same house forever. You can now move 
your sims in and out from houses and jobs on a whim. The only catch is that you 
have to keep a sim's status in mind. That is, you cannot move a sim from a 
trailer to a mansion. This helps though if the neighborhood your sim lives in 
is really good, and you want to move the sim to a less developed area for 
assistance there.

If you're lucky enough to also own a copy of The Sims and/or any of its seven 
expansions, you can put your created sims in the game. However, any sim is like 
any other sim: the ones that ship with SimCity 4 are no better or worse than 
your own creations.

Anyway, to start off, click the My Sim Mode button. You'll get five empty 
portraits; click one to bring up the list of available sims. Your sims from The 
Sims aren't on the list at the start. To get them there, click the Import Sims 
button, the one that looks like a computer. SimCity 4 quickly scans you're the 
Sims directory and adds any and all sims to your roster (except for any CPU-
created for populating Downtown, Vacation Island, Studio Town, and Magic Town). 
You'll only have to do this once, unless you make more sims in The Sims and 
want to move them in. Select any sim, but be advised that they're only faces 
and names. A kid sim will be no different in your town than an adult.

Once you select a sim, you'll get an arrow. Point it to the house you want the 
sim to move into. Doing that will immediately make them take on the personality 
of the house... if you move them to a rich house, they will have mucho dinero 
and high education. They'll take a job based on their class, and you can see 
them drive to and from work every day.

You'll get reports on their lives through the main news screen, or you can 
click their portrait in My Sim Mode. You can choose to just ignore them and let 
them deal with your decisions, or you can actively try to kill their problems 
and improve their assets. They'll keep you guessing, sometimes changing 
careers, sometimes moving across town... check out their reaction if you 
bulldoze their house while they're at work. ^_^

Your sims have life spans, and once they reach a certain age, they'll snuff it. 
Luckily, they'll be replaced with a new sim with the same name, just with a 
number. (Pyro Falkon's replacement is Pyro Falkon the 2nd, whose replacement is 
Pyro Falkon the 3rd, etc.)

|9a. The Microphone|

New to the expansion is the microphone. This is a simple tool in My Sim Mode. 
All you have to do is click the microphone button, and then click any sim in 
your city. That sim will immediately tell you what he thinks about the current 
area he's standing in. It's nowhere near as detailed as actually having a sim 
in a house in that area, but it's good for a quick survey.

|9b. U-Drive It|

The new U-Drive It mode is almost a game within itself. When you build certain 
buildings, you get access to vehicles and can run missions with them. These 
missions are not merely busy work. You can get access to build advanced 
buildings by completing missions so you don't have to worry about getting all 
the prerequisites!

The controls of all the vehicles take some getting used to, so play around a 
bit. The nice thing about U-Drive It is that you can do Free Drive, which is 
where you choose one vehicle and joy ride as long as you want.

I will not tell you how to complete missions because they're totally random. 
For example, if you choose the police mission that has you following clues, a 
number of random houses around your city will actually contain the clues, and 
it would be different each time. If you made your transportation lines really 
well, you should be able to reach any point within the time limit. If you 
didn't... well, this'll be a good way to see what's wrong.

I will also not tell you what the missions are. You can find a complete list in 
the back of the manual that you got with your game.

U-Drive It missions are definitely worth it in the beginning. When you start 
making $10,000 profit per month, then it's probably not that big of a deal.

I do have a couple pieces of advice for you on the missions in general.

First, whenever you do aerial missions, try to stay between 50-100 units above 
the ground. (I say "units" because I don't know whether they're measuring in 
feet or meters or what.) Any more and you'll lose track of your footprint; any 
less and you run the risk of smashing into a building.

(As a side note, no matter how hard you try, you can't actually crash into a 
building with any aerial vehicle because the vehicles have infinite hit points. 
Something tells me that Maxis has done the same thing Microsoft did after 

Second, don't accept any train missions unless your tracks go in a complete 
circle. Trains can't go backwards, and a lot of times when I accept missions, 
I'll start at the end of track with nowhere to go. It's a good idea to have a 
complete circle of tracks anyway: very efficient.

|                 PART 3: REFERENCE                  |

This part of the FAQ deals with a database of power plants, their costs, and 
value, along with personal comments. Also is a description of the various 
ordinances in the game. However, this section is NOT strategy... that comes 


Here I list all the power plants alphabetically, their requirements (if any), 
their costs, their values, and my opinion on their operation and efficiency.

|Coal Power Plant|


Initial Cost:

Monthly Cost:

Power Generated:
6,000 MWh

24 MWh/$1

The power plant with the best value is also the dirtiest. Its low monthly cost, 
however, and high value make it perfect for young cities. At the beginning, 
avoid this one only if you're bound and determined to keep your grass green 
from start to finish.

|Hydrogen Power Plant|

4,000+ high-tech jobs
30,000+ MWh/month demanded

Initial Cost:

Monthly Cost:

Power Generated:
50,000 MWh

5 MWh/$1

By the time you CAN build it, you can probably afford it. It's extremely clean 
and totally reliable. There are other alternatives, but for its capacity and 
cleanliness, you can't get a better deal.

|Natural Gas Power Plant|


Initial Cost:

Monthly Cost:

Power Generated:
3,000 MWh

7.5 MWh/$1

Although cheaper than a coal power plant, it makes far less power. Then again, 
it's MUCH cleaner, and you can get your people to live just a BIT closer to it. 
A nice alternative to coal if you're starting out.

|Nuclear Power Plant|

85,000+ overall population
25,000+ MWh/month demanded

Initial Cost:

Monthly Cost:

Power Generated:
16,000 MWh

5.3 MWh/$1

Nuclear power doesn't pollute much, but there's a chance that the plant will 
meltdown, especially if it catches fire. If it does that, it will make a rather 
large radius of land radioactive, and you can't do anything with radioactive 
land for the rest of the game. Although that's a high risk, if your power plant 
is well covered with fire stations, you'll be fine.

|Oil Power Plant|


Initial Cost:

Monthly Cost:

Power Generated:
7,000 MWh

11.7 MWh/$1

The second-best deal on the market has a high initial price tag. It's cleaner 
than coal, so you may want to trash your coal plant in favor of oil once you're 
making a large profit.

|Solar Power Plant|

3,000+ high-class residents
+55 or better Mayor Rating

Initial Cost:

Monthly Cost:

Power Generated:
5,000 MWh

5 MWh/$1

Cleaner than your grandma's kitchen, this plant is a reward for having rich 
people inhabiting your town. People have little problem living next to it. The 
problem is that it's darn expensive for clean power, and one little solar plant 
doesn't produce nearly enough power to keep a large town satisfied. Only build 
these if you're simply expanding your power, not replacing it.

|Waste-to-Energy Plant|


Initial Cost:

Monthly Cost:

Power Generated:
5,000 MWh

5 MWh/$1

A cheaper version of the solar power plant, this type is available from the 
start. However, its initial cost is a little high for young cities, and the 
pollution it generates is ridiculous. It reduces garbage, but don't look here 
for a permanent waste OR permanent energy solution.



Initial Cost:

Monthly Cost:

Power Generated:
200 MWh

4 MWh/$1

The cleanest form of power is the worst deal. However, windmill plants are 
excellent to use if you need temporary bursts of power when you don't have the 
money or desire to get a full-sized plant. Unless you want to lose a bunch on 
money, don't rely fully on these.


This is a complete list of all the ordinances in the game. To access 
ordinances, click your budget tab, then expand it, and click the eye beside the 
City Ordinances line.

Ordinances should not be used to fully stop problems. Ordinances basically cure 
the symptoms, not the disease. If your city has insane pollution, you can enact 
every pollution-cutting ordinance, but it won't help that much. You need to 
first clean up your industries before ordinances will help.

Except for the legalized gambling ordinance, small towns shouldn't even bother 
with them. The problems faced by tiny towns don't warrant ordinances and are 
easy to stop. Besides, all ordinances cost cash, and in the beginning, every 
simoleon counts.

Ordinances are listed here in alphabetical order.

|Automobile Emission Reduction Act|

That's a mouthful, isn't it? Enacting this will set standards for cars so their 
pollution is reduced. This cuts air pollution to a pretty large degree, but 
only around busy streets. There are no negatives aside from the cost, although 
this won't cut down on traffic like other ordinances will. Still, I enact it 
once I can afford to.

|Carpool Incentive Program|

This funds little things like carpool lanes and other benefits for sims who 
decide to carpool to and from work. This cuts down on road congestion, which 
also cuts down on air pollution, especially around main streets. This isn't too 
bad of an alternative to busses, though both can be used in tandem for best 

|Clean Air Act|

This money is used to set standards for air pollution. This will cut down air 
pollution from industries pretty well, but it will tick off all dirty and 
manufacturing industries. Of course, if your aim is to have a clean, high-tech 
city, go for it. The cost is rather steep, but the payoff is worth it once you 
can afford it.

|Community CPR Training Program|

A small amount of money is taken from the treasury to teach people how to 
perform CPR. This increases the life span of all sims, and it improves their 
overall attitude. I recommend it once your city gets going smoothly to assist 
your health clinics and hospitals, but not from the outset of the game.

|Commuter Shuttle Service|

The city creates and maintains mini-busses to help people get to mass transit 
stations like bus stops and train stations. This gives people more of an 
incentive to ride mass transit, which reduces traffic and air pollution along 
the busiest streets. However, you'll need SOME mass transit in place for this 
to work; don't bother enacting the ordinance if you have no bus stops or train 

|Free Clinic Program|

Places are set up throughout the city to give free medical treatment to your 
poorer sims. City-wide health greatly increases at a monetary expense. I don't 
like this one, because I prefer to have rich people in my cities who can afford 
to go to hospitals. If you have a lot of lower class sims, though, go for it.

|Junior Sports Program|

The city funds schools for uniforms and other sports equipment. This cuts crime 
because the kids have something to do in the afternoons aside from holding up 
7-Elevens, and it increases schools' effectiveness because the kids want to 
work hard and maintain good grades to keep their athletic eligibility. This 
comes at a mediocre cost to your budget.

|Legalized Gambling|

The only ordinance that will actually make money instead of costing it, this 
will put a guaranteed $100 in your bank every month. The problem is that it's 
not scalable, and once you hit several thousand people, $100 per month isn't 
going to be worth much. Still, young cities seriously benefit from it, and it 
leads to getting a casino business deal.

|Neighborhood Watch Program|

Your vigil sims will assist the cops in cutting crime in residential zones. Not 
too bad of an option, considering its relatively low cost, but I don't normally 
use it.

|Nuclear Free Zone|

For a fee, you can declare your city as being nuclear free. This eliminates the 
option to build nuclear power plants and toxic waste dumps, but the 
environmentalists will be happy, and aura will improve city-wide. This ticks 
off the dirty industries, but not to a very large degree.

|Paper Waste Reduction Program|

The paper waste reduction program cuts down garbage and ticks off industries in 
the process. Don't enact it if there are industrial zones empty, because it 
will be that much harder to get businesses to move in. Use this one to support 
your sanitation department, but only if you're desperate for a higher 
environment score.

|Power Conservation Act|

This one reduces city-wide power usage, so you get more out of your power 
plants. However, this ticks everyone off--especially industries--and comes with 
a nasty price tag.

|Pro-Reading Campaign|

This gives assist money to libraries and schools, which improves education. It 
does not impact museums.

|Smoke Detector Program|

This program installs smoke detectors on all buildings. This cuts down on city-
wide flammability, assisting your fire departments. The only downfall is the 
cost, which isn't much at all. I recommend you enact this one as soon as you 

|Tire Recycling Program|

This reduces pollution and generally improves city aura and beauty. In SimCity 
3000, this also reduced road costs by $1 per section, which REALLY added up. 
Sadly, that discount is no longer a part of it.

|Tourism Promotion Program|

This one advertises your city to other cities. More people will come to check 
out your town, which adds to your commercial sectors' coffers. This increases 
your commercial demand, but can congest your roads when people come to visit. 
Also, you should have some good attractions (landmarks or rewards) in your town 
before enacting this, or it won't work as well.

|Water Conservation Program|

Money is spent to reduce the amount of water all buildings use. Residents don't 
have a problem with it, but industries don't like it one bit. This reduces the 
industry demand, but seriously increases your water capacity. It comes with a 
hefty price tag, though.

|Youth Curfew Act|

All young sims have to be in their homes in the late evening. This highly cuts 
crime, but it ticks off every kid in the city. Be careful; it's a good assist 
for the police, but you'll have issues with city morale.

|                  PART 4: STRATEGY                  |

Come on, admit it: this is the reason you clicked this FAQ in the first place, 
isn't it?

||12. ZONES||

Here I'll talk about the different zones and their densities in detail. I'll 
also talk about what each type looks for when choosing land.

|12a. Residential Zones|

Residential zones come in three flavors: light, medium, and dense. Generally 
speaking, as you get more dense, you get more money through taxes, but that is 
not a rule set in stone.

Don't confuse light, medium, and dense with poor, middle-class, and wealthy. 
Wealthy people can live in light density zones and the poor can live in dense 
zones. Densities are only related to the physical size of the building. Light 
density buildings are single-family homes, but that can be anything from 
townhouses to mansions. Dense buildings are sky scrapers and can hold thousands 
of sims.

The wealth of your cliental depends on services. Poor sims don't really care 
where they live, and will consequently take houses in crummy neighborhoods with 
high crime or low health care. They never make much money, so you can't get too 
much in the way of taxes from them. However, at the beginning of your city's 
life, they are your lifeblood. These sims will take low-caliber jobs like fast 
food cooks or factory workers.

Middle-class sims need water and at least one or two of the Big Four Services. 
It's cheap to get fire protection, so you'll probably have some middle-class 
sims coming in even in the beginning. They make some more money than the poor, 
and they'll take jobs in pretty much any position.

Wealthy sims need at least three of the Big Four Services, water, and garbage 
disposal. They also need to have jobs available to tax their brains, so if you 
have nothing but farms, no rich sims will move in no matter how nice the 
residential areas are. You'll get plenty of cash out these sims, even if 
they're in single-family homes.

|12b. Commercial Zones|

Commercial zones come in the same three flavors of residential zones.

Light commercial zones provide local shops. These offer cheap services for 
cheap prices, employ cheap people, and pay cheap taxes. You see things like ice 
cream parlors and car dealerships here. They will set up practically anywhere, 
so long as they're relatively close to customers.

Medium commercial zones hold two types of buildings: services and office 
buildings. Services employ workers who are paid a little more than the local 
shops, but still less than other forms of commercial areas. They require 
workers with minimal education, and the buildings do very well around pollution 
as long as they're not on top of industrial zones.

Office buildings employ white-collar workers who are paid a good wage. They pay 
more in taxes and employ workers who have decent education. Office buildings 
must be farther from pollution than services.

Dense commercial zones hold both offices and services, too. Your tallest 
buildings will probably come from dense commercial zones. Businesses include 
malls, which accommodate customers from all classes, and which make absurd 
amounts of money that you can tax to death. They've got to be practically on 
top of customers, and very far away from pollution. Offices are even more picky 
than businesses, and employ more educated sims.

|12c. Industrial Zones|

Industrial zones come in the same three flavors as well, but there's a slightly 
different spin on the way the buildings are made and the way taxes are 
collected. These zones will provide the most jobs to your city, and in the 
beginning will be in higher demand than commercial zones.

Light industrial zones, also called agricultural zones, are areas that you zone 
for farms only. Farms, unlike all other zones, can be as big as you want them 
to be. They don't employ too many people, but they're pretty and are required 
for larger cities (although cities can share that demand, but more on that 
later). Prior to the expansion pack, you got no taxes from farms. That's 
changed, but you still don't get much. So, if you're short of cash, don't even 
consider it. Farms appear once given road access, provided there's little to no 
pollution. After they're created, only pollution will shut them down.

Medium and dense industrial zones can house any of the other three industrial 
buildings: dirty, manufacturing, or high-tech. Again, the density difference 
only affects the physical size of the buildings.

Dirty industries employ sims with little to no education, and they pay low 
wages. You'll be relying on dirty industries in the beginning of the life of a 
city. They pollute badly and throw crime all over the place, and they are 
always horrible fire hazards. Still, they'll set up anywhere, especially where 
land values are low so they get deals on the land.

Manufacturing industries employ slightly smarter sims who in turn get paid 
more. Manufacturing industries don't pollute as much as dirties, nor do they 
produce as much crime. They are far and away safer as far as fire is concerned. 
They'll setup practically anywhere, though they tend to dislike heavy 

High-tech industries are clean and rich. You'll need well-educated sims in the 
city for high-tech industries to hire. HT industries hate pollution, so you'll 
never see any HT industry next to a dirty one. HT industries get along with 
manufacturing industries, but HTs still prefer to be totally isolated from 
pollution. They give tremendous taxes, little crime, no pollution, and 
practically no fire hazard.

If you ever want to switch a large industrial zone from housing dirty 
industries to clean ones, you'll need to actually DESTROY all the dirty 
industries. If you don't, there will be some pollution, and HT industries will 
definitely not move in. This will cost you a lot of money because while those 
industrial zones are empty, you're not gaining any taxes. However, if you have 
plenty of money in the treasury, then try it because the money you gain from HT 
industries will more than make up for any you lost during the switch.

Industrial zones (farms excluded) need two additional things to grow. There has 
to be some way for the goods to get from your industrial zones to your 
commercial zones and other cities. All industrial zones make freight trucks 
that follow your roads, but there's a more effective way.

For maximum speed and effectiveness, you'll need trains. Place a rail DIRECTLY 
NEXT TO industrial zones. As long as the industry building is in a zone 
directly touching a rail, the building will have the shortest freight time. If 
you cannot do that, place a rail line anyway as close to the industrial zone as 
possible, then place a freight train station linking the rail to a road. The 
industries will ship their goods by truck to the freight train station, which 
will then in turn carry it away. Be aware that the longer the freight time, the 
more ticked off industries will be.

Freight stations, by the way, are departure-only stops. You do not need to 
place them at destinations, so don't, or you'll be losing cash with the monthly 
cost for no reason.

|12d. General Zoning Advice|

Zones need to be directly touching roads to function. Every individual plot of 
residential or commercial land has to have road access at its FRONT DOOR 
(putting a road at the side of the house only isn't going to help). Industrial 
zones can be up to four tiles away as long as the zone is unbroken and one part 
of it touches the road.

Zones expand and grow (in terms of building size) when provided with the right 
services. If a dense zone doesn't seem to be developing, query it to see the 
problem, and try to fix it.

Zones can be re-zoned to something more dense without the buildings having to 
be destroyed. Just "paint" over the existing zone with the new one.

One strategy is to use the densest zone type right from the beginning. That 
prevents you having to spend additional money on re-zoning later. I believe, 
however, that the initial cost of the expensive zone is too great; young cities 
won't see the potential of dense zones, so there's no point in building them. 
However, that IS just my opinion... if you can get it to work with dense zones 
from the outset, go for it.

Young cities favor industrial zones because industries are looking for the 
cheap land. As cities grow, they become more self-sufficient, so they favor 
more commercial zones. Adjust your zones and zoning techniques as you need to 
based on your population.


While we're on the subject of highly educated sims, we should discuss how to go 
about getting those little sim brains filled with big sim thoughts. Educational 
buildings are divided into four classes: young kids, old kids, young adults, 
and adults to old people.

Elementary schools educate the young kids. Small schools hold a maximum of 500 
students, and the deluxe ones can hold 3000. No matter the size, they have a 
radius that represents the bus range (no more stacking all your schools in one 
corner of the map like in SimCity 3000). Place them in the hearts of your 
residential areas, because no one from businesses or industries will be heading 
to school. Deluxe schools have a much larger radius than their small cousins, 
and the bus fund is accordingly higher.

High schools educate old kids. Small schools hold a maximum of 750 students, 
and the deluxe versions hold 4500 students. High schools further increase sims' 
EQ as they become old kids. They also have a radius representing buses, so plop 
these in the middle of residential areas too. Again, the deluxe version has a 
larger radius and higher bus fund than the small version. 

City colleges and universities help out the young adults. Getting a degree is 
one of the greatest feelings in life for a lot of people, and it opens the 
doors to higher-paying jobs (which in turn leads to more money you can bleed 
from your populace). Colleges hold a maximum of 7,000 students, more than 
enough room to hold quite a few generations. Also, the college does not have a 
radius since most people will live on campus. Universities hold no students, 
but instead act to assist and improve colleges to make their education better.

Local branch libraries and the Main Library let sims of all ages (excluding the 
seniors) maintain their education. Libraries are essential to keeping adults 
from forgetting everything they learned in college, which could lead to a loss 
of job or status in the city. Local branch libraries hold a number of books, 
which represent its radius. Main libraries assist the local branches.

City museums and Major Art Museums offer relics of old for the people who 
routinely tell kids to get off their lawns. The presence of museums assists the 
schools and prevents seniors' brains from turning as mushy as the rest of their 
bodies. Don't bother with them until you have a fair number of years behind 

In my experience, you can do without libraries and museums until your city is 
25 years old and/or having a population of 10,000 people. Also, you can do 
without high schools entirely as long as you have a strong college. Although EQ 
will be a little lower, it won't be low enough to prevent sims from getting 
those super-high paying jobs in high-tech industries or wealthy offices.


Here I'll talk about the nuances of bridges and tunnels, along with all other
stuff relating to moving sims from point A to point B.

|14a. Asphalt|

You know what the best way is to punish a 16-year-old? Take away his keys.

Sims love driving as much as humans do. There are twice as many cars on the 
road as there are people if not more, but no one is going to be moving their 
gas guzzlers without roads.

Streets are minor, low-capacity and low-speed routes. You probably live on a 
street as opposed to a road; the best indication is the presence or lack of a 
line painted down the pavement. Streets have no line, because the drivers 
should be going slow enough that no one is in danger of hitting anything. Use 
streets to connect out-of-the-way neighborhoods to main roads. Streets cost 
less, both initially and monthly, so use them when you can, especially in the 

Roads are the basic route to get sims around. These are medium-capacity and 
medium-speed paths, designed as major linking paths between zones. All vehicles 
will spend the majority of time on roads, so make sure they're well kept. Any 
street you have can be easily replaced with a road by "painting" over it, and 
the original street will not have to be destroyed. If you can afford it, you 
may want to just get rid of streets entirely once you have a medium-large city. 
It makes transit quicker, and it's just a little more orderly. Your advisors 
(and sims) will complain that there are no streets (and therefore no 
"neighborly feeling"), but screw 'em.

One-way roads are just that. They have the capacity and speed limit of roads, 
but only allow travel in one direction. You can regulate the flow of traffic 
very easily with these. When used properly, sims can get from any point in the 
city to any other point in the city with minimal fuss. You'll find that one-way 
roads are usually used extensively in the morning or evening, but not both.

Avenues are basically pairs of one-way streets. They are high-capacity, high-
speed routes that handle MUCH more traffic than roads, but don't cost as much 
as highways, and connect much easier to roads and streets. If you need to 
connect two major sections of your city, avenues are the way to go.

The only problem with avenues is that it's hard to turn a road into one because 
of the size difference. If you think you'll be using an avenue, you may want to 
build it from the beginning. It'll be a waste of money at the beginning, but 
you won't have to do anything really destructive later.

Another problem with avenues is the median. Cars cannot hop over the median, so 
if you have a house on an avenue, its occupants will have to go the LONG way 
around to get home. Avenues should not be used for routes to and from houses; 
they should only be used as links between two sections of the city.

|14b. Highways|

Highways are extreme-speed, extreme-capacity monsters that can accommodate huge 
quantities of cars and shoot them across the landscape in a matter of moments. 
Seldom are highways clogged, unless it's the only route to get between zones. 
If given the choice, sims will always take the faster route, so running a 
highway parallel to a busy road (or just replacing the road entirely) will 
guarantee its usage. Highways are expensive though, so don't bother with them 
until you can foot the bill.

To get onto a highway, you need an on-ramp. On-ramps, in short, connect roads 
to highways. There's massive strategy to on-ramps because they come in two 
flavors and have to be placed on both sides of the road at the arrival AND 
destination. That's four on-ramps at least for any given stretch of highway... 
although the payoff in low traffic density is worth it.

The two on-ramp types are overpass and side. Side on-ramps let drivers hop from 
the road to the highway without slowing, allowing smooth transfers and minimal 
congestion. Overpass on-ramps usually force drivers to bottleneck at that 
point, but the drivers can get to the other side of the highway by cutting 
under it. Your on-ramp choice depends heavily on your zones. If you have the 
highway simply as a link between zones, you can get away with a side on-ramp. 
However, if there are zones actually AROUND the highway, then an overpass on-
ramp is the best way to go to avoid forcing commuters to taking longer trips 
than necessary.

If you have multiple highways, you can link them provided they cross at 90-
degree angles. One has to be going north-south, and the other east-west. Once 
an intersection is created, use a cloverleaf or T-section to combine both into 
one super highway. Commuters can hop from one highway to the other with little 
to no delay.

With the expansion pack, you can now build T-sections, cloverleaves, and on-
ramps before the actual highway itself. That way you can plan highways before 
spending obscene amounts of money.

Also new with the expansion pack are ground highways (as opposed to the normal 
elevated highways). They cost only a third as much as elevated highways 
initially, although they cost the same in maintenance. The only downside to 
ground-level highways is that you can't cross them other types of 
transportation, like railroad tracks.

|14c. Mass Transit|

Cars produce insane pollution. Even with the Automobile Emission Reduction Act 
active, a large city will produce many drivers who are all polluting. To combat 
that, bring in mass transit, which by definition has many sims using the same 
bus or train or whatever to get places.

Buses are the cheapest way to cut traffic. Sims will board at a bus stop, but 
they can get off anywhere, so you don't have to litter your landscape with 
stations. Sims don't like walking to bus stops, though, so make sure there are 
enough to give sims plenty of places to board. Rich sims hate the bus, and poor 
sims love it, so adjust the number of your buses depending on your population.

Trains take more passengers than buses, and are faster. They can travel much 
farther too, but they cost more. First, you'll need to build rails where you 
want the trains to go. Also, unlike buses, you'll need to put a train station 
for every place you want the train to stop. Rich sims don't mind riding trains 
as much as they do buses, so use trains all you can. Besides, you can combine 
passenger routes with freight routes for maximum efficiency around your 
industrial zones. 

Subways are underground trains. They operate like trains in practice, but 
they're more expensive. They take more people, though, and are even faster than 
trains. They're small, so they won't take as much room as train stations. Best 
of all, because the tracks are underground, you can make direct lines to each 
station, and you won't be wasting valuable real estate upstairs where it 
counts. Rich sims LOVE subways, so they're great for rich neighborhoods. The 
thing about subways is that they are EXTREMELY expensive.

A new mass transit system is elevated trains, usually called "el-trains," or 
sometimes just "the el." Chicago is a prime example of how effective el-trains 
are. El-trains hold the most passengers, and the rich love them. El-train 
tracks can link to subway lines too, which makes for a great system. You can 
use the el as long as you can, but if you run into zones you don't want to 
demolish, you can slip underground until you're on the other side.

The other new mass transit system is the monorail. The monorail cannot hold as 
many people as the el or subways, but it absolutely screams across the 
landscape at full speed. If you have a long-distance to go, monorails rock.

Placing a parking garage adjacent to any mass transit station will increase 
that station's usage. Instead of sims having to walk to the station, they can 
just drive to the garage, park their car, then use the station. Parking garages 
are absolutely fantastic, so try to put one next to every mass transit station 
you make.

If any station of any of the five mass transit types fails for whatever reason, 
your transportation advisor will inform you with a hyperlink to the offending 
station. He alerts you to the stations that make no profit, which means, as the 
game puts it, are black holes of money. Take them out with your trusty 
bulldozer to stop losing the cash.

Placement for mass transit stations requires some degree of planning. The easy 
way is to build the mass transit routes first, then build around them.

You can't do that without a lot of money, and at the beginning, you won't have 
it. So, you'll probably be doing most of your mass transit lines after you have 
established routes. Until now, it's been almost impossible to know where to put 
stations. Luckily, the new route query tool is totally invaluable for this. 
Here's the process:

1. Open your Data View screen.

2. View traffic congestion.

3. Route-query a piece of road that is orange or red.

4. Turn off Data View.

5. A bunch of lines will pop up indicating routes. Look for a bunch of arrows 
going to the same area.

6. Place a station in the area. Bulldoze a couple buildings if you have to.

7. Route-query a building in that area.

8. Different arrows will appear. Follow them backwards from the place you just 

9. Look for a "pocket" of arrows at the end of the line.

10. Place a station there, too.

11. Link the two stations however you can (bus stops excluded). 

|14d. Bridges and Tunnels|

If there's a body of water or a mountain in your way, you have three options. 
The first is to go over it, the second is to go around it, and the third is to 
go through it.

Mountains can have roads and rails over it, but this will make for a horrible 
driving experience, and some trains won't be able to make some climbs. Going 
around the mountain is an option, but that can be a long and expensive trip. 
The best solution is to just drill through the mountain to make a tunnel, 
giving your cars and trains a flat path to zip along.

Bodies of water are similar. Again, you could go around it, but some rivers may 
take the length of the map. Build a bridge to get your cars past the 
obstruction and get them on their way.

To build either a bridge or a tunnel, first plan on where you want it. They can 
get expensive, and you don't want to continually be destroying and re-building 
them. Make a strip of road where you want the tunnel or bridge by dragging OVER 
the mountain or river. Go a little farther along the land until your highlight 
turns green.

After you let go of the left mouse button, you'll be given the cost of the 
bridge or tunnel, and you'll be asked to confirm its construction. If you 
decline to build a tunnel, the game will make the road you selected, but it 
will be going OVER the mountain. Declining bridge construction makes your 
engineers build the road you drew minus the bridge itself.

Bridges cannot cross each other, but tunnels KIND OF can. If you build a tunnel 
through a mountain, you can still build a road ON the mountain as well. You 
can't make two tunnels on the same level cross, but you can make two or more 
tunnels run parallel if you need to.

Highways, roads, and rails can all tunnel or bridge.

By the way, you can also bridge over a canyon. One of my prides and joys is 
Canyon City, which features a huge canyon splitting two huge mesas. The 
northern mesa has the industrial sector and other pollutants, and the southern 
mesa has everything else. Highways bridge the two mesas, giving people easy 
access to their jobs.

I lost all my old cities, including Canyon City, last year on July 11, 2003 
when I fried my computer. As of this writing, I haven't re-made Canyon City yet 
in Rush Hour, but I plan to. I'm going to see if it works with el-trains and 
monorails and things. 

|14e. Seaports and Airports|

Seaports and airports do help send sims this way and that, but they are mostly 

Seaports assist your industries by hauling their goods across the oceans and 
rivers of your region. Although passenger boats aren't rare, you'll get far 
more people with neighbor connections than sea routes (more on that in a 
second). By building a seaport or two, the demand for your industry of all 
types increases. They pollute heavily and are expensive, so take care.

Airports provide more people than seaports, but they help commercial zones 
instead of industrial zones. Airports bring in planes with tourists, who will 
add to the coffers of your city's businesses. You'll get more tourists with 
more landmarks and rewards, so don't be too stingy.


SimCity is not the isolated lonely existence it once was. It's not even as 
lonely as it was with SimCity 3000 (although until you make more than one city, 
you will feel a little isolated). After getting your one city running well, 
save it and exit to the region. Start a new city within the confines of a plot 
of land adjacent to your first city.

Once you have two cities, you can link them in a number of ways. Two cities can 
very easily support each other, so just imagine when you link up a city to four 
other cities or more! The basic way to link cities is by road or highway. 
You'll have to have room on both sides of the border to accommodate the road 
connection, but it only takes one or two tiles. With a simple road connection, 
all sorts of things happen.

First and most importantly is the shared demand. Two cities that are linked 
share their RCI meters. If City A has a bunch of farms, and City B desires 
farms, linking them will benefit both. Residents from one city DO cross the 
border to work at other cities as well. There's no hard number to get an actual 
fix on how many people are doing so, but you can route-query the connection to 
see how many vehicles are hopping the border.

(By the way, using the route query tool, I found out that sims will actually 
travel to MULTIPLE towns. I traced a sim who went on a highway from City A to 
City B, changed highways, then went to City C to work.)

Second, the cities can import or export each other's trash. If one city has the 
landfill to spare, it can take garbage at a cost of the exporting city. It's a 
pretty lucrative way to get a profit in the early days.

Third, the cities will share tourists. If one city has enough tourist traps 
like landmarks and rewards, its commercial sector will get a boost when the 
second city's people come to visit.

You can also link cities via water pipes to share water, power lines to share 
electricity, and rails to share people and industrial goods. A lot of the 
sharing happens without your knowledge in the background, so if you make two 
identical cities, one linked and the other not, the linked city will probably 
prosper better.

There are also business deals you can make internally with your own city only. 
If you ever find yourself in debt, you are usually given the opportunity to 
build a building at no cost that will net you a decent monthly income. Young 
cities will have to practically depend on these buildings to survive, and 
there's no shame in using them. However, they all bring their own problems, so 
if you can sustain yourself without them, do so.


Back by popular demand from my FAQs on the The Sims series, I'm providing this 
section of the FAQ for any strategy you may have. Send it to, and I'll post it here with all due credit. Unlike I've 
done in the past, I reserve the right to edit your submission for grammar, 
spelling, and profanity, but I will NOT edit the game content.

|                  PART 5: GOD MODE                  |

So... much... power...!

After clicking a plot of land without a city, you are given the power to change 
the land to your liking WITHOUT COST. Beware, because once you engage Mayor 
Mode, God Mode becomes extremely limited and nearly worthless. Plan your city 
now before you make some mistake that you'll regret once in-game.


There are plenty of fun buttons to play with here! I'll go over everything for 
your reference.

|17a. Landscaping|

The first button on the God Mode list is the Landscaping tool. It features 
Raise Land, Lower Land, Level Land, Add Trees, and Add Animals.

If you choose to raise your land, there's a variety of ways you can do so. 
Create cliffs to mark sheer raises and drops in altitude; make several to 
create a stair-step effect. Mesas raise a circle of land and top them off, 
giving a nice area to plop down a landmark, but denying direct access from the 
bottom. Mountains are just that, and you can make them as tall as you want; to 
get a mountain range, just slowly drag the mouse across the landscape. Steep 
hills and gentle hills are self-explanatory.

Lowering your land is pretty fun too, and lowering it enough makes bodies of 
water. Shallow valleys, valleys, and steep valleys give downward slopes to your 
land. Craters lower the land at the center of the tool but also steeply raise 
the land at the tool's edges. This creates a nifty little in-mountain lake or 
something. You can also add shallow or regular canyons, which lower land in a 
very small area.

Leveling your land is not a one-option affair, either. Using the plateau tool 
lets you make an area all the same altitude with extreme edges. Plains level 
the terrain too, but the edges will be gently sloped. The quick level brush 
allows you to easily get your land all the same altitude with extreme edges; 
useful if you made a mistake. Erosion gives your beaches and cliffs a rocky 
appearance, whereas the soften tool makes those beaches and cliffs smoother.

Adding trees gives your city some personality from the start. The more trees 
there, the bigger the danger of fire, but the less pollution there is. Adding 
animals is cosmetic only.

|17b. Winds and Global Changes|

The second button gives you access to the wind tools, and gives you the ability 
to make extreme changes. You can issue the erosion command to make your cliffs 
and beaches rocky, or you can use the soften tool to give everything a much 
cleaner appearance. Finally, you can raise or lower the entire city's terrain 
by one whole level. This is useful if you made a couple mistakes but still want 
the basic shape of your created land.

|17c. Reconcile Edges|

To make the game more realistic and give your region a cleaner look, you're 
given this tool. It compares the borders of your city with all the ones around 
it, and it changes your current city's land to match its adjacent borders. This 
way you don't have, say, half a mountain on one side of the border and nothing 
on the other side.

This is optional; you never HAVE to reconcile edges. If you do want to but 
don't want to bother hitting the button, there's an option in the options 
screen called Auto Reconcile Edges, which does what it says it does.

The reconcile edges option is one that is still available in Mayor Mode.

|17d. Disasters|

What would be the fun in making cities if you couldn't whack them now and then? 
This tool stays in its entirety even after the city has been established. Two 
new disasters were added for Rush Hour: Autosaurus Wrecks and the always-
popular UFO.

Magically summon a monster composed of a variety of vehicles. It will stomp 
buildings flat, and you can control its path with click-dragging.

Summon a flaming comet from space. On impact, it will set fire to a bunch of 
stuff and make a small crater in the ground. If you throw a couple down before 
the city gets established, you'll have a pretty nifty land shape.

Point and click to make a tiny tremor. Or, for more fun, click and hold the 
mouse button for a few seconds, THEN release. That will rip the map apart, 
sending buildings flying and sims screaming. Woo hoo!

The basics are back. Point and click, and whatever unlucky object you choose 
catches flames. Fire leaps from one flammable object to another, so trees and 
buildings are all subject to heat.

This is a quickie. Summon a bolt of lightning to any object you choose, and 
that object will catch fire and/or be destroyed. It's like the fire disaster, 
but it's a little more precise.

Servo is fed up from doing all the chores for all the sim families. He's 
managed to make himself 10 stories tall (that's like 70 to 100 feet, you math 
whizzes), and now he's launching grenades randomly. You can control him 
yourself and direct him to specific parts of the city you want to level.

I live in Xenia, Ohio. We got hit by two rather devastating tornados: one in 
1974, and one in 2000. Luckily, neither was this bad! You can change the 
tornado's direction to send it to different buildings to take it out. Although 
it sets some things on fire, its primary purpose is to cause destruction.

The closest thing you're going to get to a nuclear strike in SimCity 4, the UFO 
disaster will first summon the mother ship to the point of the city where you 
click. (It'll take a few seconds to arrive, so don't panic when you don't see 
it at first.) Once it settles over your city, it'll charge its laser beam and 
absolutely demolish anything around, a la Independence Day. After that, three 
tiny UFOs will pop out and start randomly shooting at things. You can control 
the direction of the little UFOs to a degree, but you have no control over what 
they fire at. 

A miniature mountain springs up and erupts lava. The lava will flow down the 
hill and burn up everything in its path, including buildings. You get to choose 
where you want the volcano to appear: just point and click. If you ever get 
ticked off, make a volcano appear in the center of downtown.

|17e. Day/Night Cycle|

The game has a clock so you can see your sims going to and from work. (You can 
see what sim time it is by hovering your mouse over the date display.) The sun 
rises and sets, and it changes the color of the land with it as it does so. 
Also, buildings will get lit up at night. Call me a sucker, but seeing from a 
distance a huge skyline all lit up is one of the greatest sights in 
existence... SimCity 4 does a darn good job emulating it, but I digress.

You can keep the passage of time, or you can elect to force the city to spend 
all its time in daylight or nightlight. The night brings beautiful graphics, 
but the day lets you see what you're doing better. If you're working on a lot 
of zoning, you may want to leave the sun turned on until you're done.

No matter what you choose here, the time will still proceed. It just affects 
what you see.


Unless you're just learning about the tools, avoid just screwing around with 
God Mode. If you mess around too much, then the city you establish will have 
its own set of problems... which is why I recommended that you start your first 
city on a totally flat piece of land.

Sims both like and dislike hills. Houses build on hills or mesas are 
automatically valued more due to their view. Windmill power plants also produce 
just a LITTLE more energy the higher they are. However, sims hate driving up 
and down steep slopes, and if you make your cliff too steep, it can't be 
traversed at all.

Water is a slightly different issue. Sims love water as much as they love 
hills. Property values around water are higher, which leads to higher taxes, 
and lakes can easily be driven over or around. Oceans give you access to 
seaports, which help industries, which add money. The problem is that for every 
tile that is occupied with water, that's one less tile for something else, like 
a house or road.

Unless you have some specific strategy in mind, you need to find a balance 
between aesthetics and efficiency. A couple of lakes, a few gentle hills, and 
one or two steep hills in an otherwise flat area is fantastic. Having a little 
of everything lets a lot of different sims be happy, and as they say, variety 
is the spice of life.

That's not to say that specific strategies are bad. If you want to make an 
island, you'll have to give up a lot of land to do it... but maybe that's your 
idea. Your city is your city... just make sure that whatever you do in God Mode 
won't bite you in the butt later. As long as you know what you're doing and 
what you're limiting yourself from, you'll be fine.

The only thing I always recommend is trees. Trees won't catch fire by 
themselves, and they'll cut down pollution from the start. It doesn't cost that 
much more to build things over trees (there is an added cost to compensate 
tearing the trees down), and it costs absolutely nothing to zone over trees 
(because the land owners will cut their own trees down). Besides, trees add 
land value too. If there's any space on your map that has no trees, you don't 
have enough.

|                 PART 6: FAQ STUFF                  |

This part of the FAQ is about the document itself.


This is where I'll list everyone who has contributed anything to me. I'll list 
your name, e-mail address (unless you tell me not to), and what you 
contributed, along with what version of the FAQ you did so. Send all 
contributions to


v1 (26 February 2004)
First release, yo. (What does "yo" mean, anyway?)


This document is copyright 2004 for J. "PyroFalkon" Habib. If you plan to use 
any of it as part of another FAQ, you need my permission first. However, if you 
plan to post it on a website or e-mail it to someone or whatnot, you may do so 
without my permission AS LONG AS IT IS NOT ALTERED IN ANY WAY. I'd like you to 
drop me an e-mail so I know where you're going to take it, but I will not 
require you to do so. You may download it or print it at your leisure.

The most updated version will always be found at these sites:

Other sites may have up-to-date versions, but check GameFAQs or IGN first.


If any information is incorrect, or you wish to submit something, please e-mail 
me. My address is found on the bottom of the FAQ. Credit will be given where 
it's due.

Do not ask me for the serial number to SimCity 4. I will delete your e-mail and 
insult you.

If you submit something to me, I will credit you by the name you signed in the 
message body or by the name attached to your e-mail. I will also post your e-
mail address unless you specifically tell me not to.

If you wish to be e-mailed when this FAQ is updated, send your request to me. 
If you have a junk mail protector on your e-mail program, make sure you put my 
e-mail address on the safe list, or my messages may not get through.

Good luck in SimCity 4: Rush Hour, and may all you enjoy your rides through 
your cities!

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