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Big One (pc game)
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Unusual but compelling disaster sim

The Big One has to be pretty close to being unique in the gaming world as it revolves entirely around the idea of preparing a city for an earthquake and dealing with the aftermath of such an event. While games like SimCity and M.U.L.E. have included earthquakes as elements to keep players on their toes, The Big One focuses entirely on the idea of a city-wide disaster and does an excellent job of recreating the complexity and drama that arises from the devastation. Players are thrust into the role of the mayor of Los Angeles immediately following a massive quake. The city is in chaos and it is your job to restore it to order while maintaining your popularity as mayor. In similar fashion to other sims, you must allocate limited resources to deal with the myriad problems which arise and it is in these details that the game really scores. Everything from dispatching utility crews to fix broken power lines and gas leaks, to rescuing civilians trapped by fires and quelling riots by sending in the National Guard is include here and which really gives the game a sense of authenticity. Of course, it is not overly detailed as this might become too boring and instead things rattle along at a high pace, maintaining the tension and excitement of being on the knife edge of disaster. The interface and controls help out a lot in this respect by being accessible and easy to pick up, with everything being controlled from a map screen which gives you a great overview of the unfolding events. Something like SimCity 3000 offers a more comprehensive and diverse experience but if you are looking for a slightly unusual and more focused game, The Big One is definitely worth checking out.

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