Simulation games cover just about everything that can be simulated, but perhaps the most ambitious ones are the titles that try to simulate our own planet. Given the complexity that such endeavours entail it is no surprise that there aren't many games that have attempted this feat. Some Earth simulator games focus on the planet and environment while others concentrate on the ecosystems, but all of them leave the fate of an entire planet and its species in your hands.
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SimEarth: The Living Planet (PC)
SimEarth: The Living planet is an ambitious simulation that was released by Maxis in 1990. The creator, Will Wright, is famous for his in-depth simulation games like Sim City and The Sims, but SimEarth is far more complex than any of his other titles. Players have to manage an entire planet while evolving life on it so that they manage to reach the stars somewhere during the world's 10-billion-year lifespan. With the ability to literally move mountains and unleash disasters like global warming, war and famine, the scope of this game was unprecedented for its time. Publications like Entertainment Weekly awarded it a score of 83 out of 100. It is, however, one of the least successful entries in the simulation series by Maxis. Some of the game's ideas like evolving life from single cell organisms, however, were polished and reused for more modern titles like Spore.
SimLife: The Genetic Playground (PC)
Released in 1992 by Maxis, SimLife: The Genetic Playground challenged players to create and sustain a working ecosystem. By allowing gamers to play around with the genetics of animals and plants they could see whether their creations could survive in Earth's various environments. Besides simulating Earth, players could also create new worlds in order to see whether Earth life could be sustained on it. Due to the complicated subject matter SimLife was never very popular and can be hard to track down.
This 2008 title from Maxis uses some ideas from its SimEarth game but strips everything down to the basics to make it more fun. Starting out as a microscopic organism, players have to evolve their creature through various stages of life. Players are able to create a civilisation and ultimately leave the planet and go into space. The gameplay covers many genres like real-time strategy and role playing and is very open ended. While the Earth simulation aspects of the game isn't very realistic, players do have the ability to design and control everything. This includes the inhabitants, their buildings, vehicles and plants using the "creature creator" feature of the game. The online aspects of the game also ensure that your chosen climate is populated by creations from other players that are downloaded from the Internet based on their suitability for your game world. The game has received largely positive reviews with scores like 9.3 out of 10 from Impulse Gamer.
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