SimCity launches in UK, customers unable to play

RETICULATING SPLINES we yelled at our PC at 00:01 exactly. And for the most part, the initial install of SimCity went smoothly. We had the DVD version of the game, so had managed to get the large files in the right place before the game launched. And even the game update worked quickly, and took just a few minutes to get the game patched to the latest version.

And at first, there was some hope as servers claimed to be "available" in happy green lettering. The first one we tried asked us to wait 47 minutes for a slot. "It's bed time now, let alone 45 minutes' time" we muttered to ourselves - everyone else is in bed you see, like sane people.

Eventually we got in. The game loaded and we were able to see the initial screen. So we set a few options and tried to play. Still not working though. Initially the tutorial loaded okay for us, but then our Origin client crashed, and we howled with pain. You see, despite the game itself being fine, it can't operate without Origin messing about in the background. Up popped a message which said: "Origin needs to be running for SimCity to work, your progress will be updated next time you log in."

This, we needn't tell you, is quite a frustrating process. Our time playing the game on EA's closed servers at its HQ in Guildford was a joy to behold, and it hyped us about the game launch. But the problems started when the US servers became overloaded at the start of the week, and early game purchasers were furious.

READHands-on: SimCity review

Amazon has indeed pulled the digital download version from sale, with a note explaining that many customers are unable to play the game, and that EA is working to fix the issues. Punters have taken to the Amazon feedback section and have managed to give the game an average score of just 1.3 (for the physical version, 1.2 for the digital) and the complaints about it are overwhelming.

EA had said it thought it had resolved the issues that plagued the US launch, but that doesn't seem to be the case. In some ways, we feel sorry for the company - this is a game that is obviously quite hard to manage online, and it's clear people have rushed out and bought their copy and are keen to play.

On the other hand, we're cursing their very name, because this is all so unnecessary. There is no single-player, offline version of this game, and there should be. This DRM cum online play thing is annoying for just exactly this reason, and it's totally unjustifiable. If this is all about preventing people from illegally downloading the game, then bravo EA, because all you've really done is prevent the people who have bought it playing.

So then, it seems our splines will not be reticulated any time soon. And we're tired, and our splines need a rest. So we'll check again in the morning, and hope things have improved.

UPDATE: Things, as they say, always look brighter in the morning, and today is no exception. As of this morning, there are no problems at all getting on to the Sim City servers. Of course, it could be that the game owners are at work, so the test will be tonight, and the weekend, but so far today it's all looking very good. Now, all we need now is to bunk off work to play it...