Simulator games have always enjoyed a special place in every gamer’s heart. But more than that, this is typically the genre that appeals most to the non-gamers. You don’t need lightning reactions, or hand-eye coordination, all that’s required is some patience and smarts to build an empire, whether you’re managing a virtual football team, exploring the galaxy or constructing a city.
Here, we pick out some of the most popular sims being played today. Some are titles that have been around for years, while others are more recent. What they all have in common, however, is the ability to draw you in to their virtual world.
1) Rollercoaster Tycoon 3
The first version of Rollercoaster Tycoon came out almost 20 years ago, and practically defined the genre. You start out with a vacant plot of land and from there, the sky is literally the limit. This third iteration of the game is about far more than rollercoasters, however. Players can also construct a variety of other rides and even introduce a safari park and a water park, complete with flumes and slides.
The objective is to create a park that brings in visitors, earns you money and allows you to develop it even further. But in the event that you tire of that, you can have some fun letting the animals run wild, or perhaps creating a water slide that delivers your unsuspecting guests straight into the lion’s enclosure!
2) Horse Racing Manager 2018
This latest update of a popular sim game from 2007 has been eagerly awaited, and its arrival could not have been timed better. Real world horse racing has never been more popular, spurred on, no doubt, by the recent legislative changes surrounding online sports betting. But while the dust settles on that, what better way to hone your skills than with your own virtual stable of racing thoroughbreds?
The game is available on Android and iOS but can be played on a Mac using a Bluestacks emulator or similar, and users have reported that this results in much smoother, glitch-free gameplay. Start small, entering your horse in local derbies, and invest your winnings in training and conditioning your steed, or buying even better horses. Balancing the strengths of the horse against the different race conditions means there is plenty of strategy involved – you will be a horse racing expert before you know it!
3) Cities: Skyline
City simulators can be very good or very bad. The last update of SimCity was broadly panned as falling into the second category, and it inspired game developer Colossal Order to try and come up with something better. The result, Cities: Skyline is not so different at first glance, but it does everything just a little better, and the end result is a far more engaging and immersive experience.
Building a city is relatively simple, but how it evolves is up to you. This game provides a wealth of options, and allows you to conduct some social anthropology on a grand scale. For example, you can raise taxes, legalize drugs and add new dimensions to the game by throwing a natural disaster into the mix.
4) Kerbal Space Program
Back in the 1980s, one of the first games many of us played was a text adventure based on Star Trek. Here’s a game that brings the space program into the new millennium. But before you can think about boldly going anywhere, you have to finance your mission, and then design and build a rocket that can successfully go into orbit.
The game is multi-faceted and complex – exactly what a good sim should be!