5 best city-builder games from the 2000s (and 5 best simulation games) – Sportskeeda


City-builder games are the coolest, enabling users to build an entire civilization with their fingertips. It’s up to them how they build and where they build the city of their dreams.

City-builder games are one of the most unique genres as gameplay is more about planning and plotting the right moves and solving some complex problems that come off as barriers that stop players from building their ideal city.


The 2000s was the golden era when it came to city-builder games. There were just too many good city-builder titles released one after the other during the late 90s and early 2000s.

Choosing the best among them is difficult, but here’s a list of a few that everyone should try out at least once!

Five city-builder games from 2000s that are evergreen classics

1) Civilization IV (2005)


Civilization IV was the fourth major title in the popular Sid Meier’s Civilization series. This particular city-builder game offers the Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate model, also known as the 4X model of strategy games.

The title gives users 18 different cultures to start their campaigns. In Civilization IV, players begin with a small settlement in 4000 BCE. Their objective is to transform the humble settlement into one of the most advanced empires as gamers progress through the ages into the future.

This particular city-builder game is much more advanced than the previous Civilization editions in terms of graphics and how the military units do combat.

It has some pretty cool objectives the users need to achieve. One such awesome mission to satisfy the cultural victory objective is to be the first civilization to send a spaceship to the Proxima Century star system.

Overall, Civilization IV is a fun turn-based strategy game where they can spend hours.

2) SimCity 4 (2003)


SimCity 4 is a city-builder game that lets players be the mayor of a small town, tasked with expanding it and turning it into the bustling city of their dreams. Part of the fan-favorite SimCity series, it brought new gameplay abilities into the city-builder genre, setting new standards for future city-builder games.

It’s almost a couple of decades since SimCity 4’s release, and it still holds out as one of the best city-builder games. It has an easy-to-use user interface, and the builder panel doesn’t feel like a complicated toolbox to handle, which so often does in city-builder games.

SimCity 4 is one of the best city-builder titles to enhance gamers’ planning and management skills. It is challenging enough and involves some problem-solving as they go along to build the city of their dreams.

3) Anno 1404 (2009)


Anno 1404 is an underrated city-builder game that has expanded small-scale maps of older city-builder games to the global scale. Players initially get to control a small European fiefdom, part of a larger empire. Their objective is to establish a stronghold within the larger nation.

The game is inspired by the societal structure in Europe during the late middle ages. It is full of engagements, as users not only have to build a city but enjoy cool side quests.

4) Zeus: Master of Olympus (2000)


Zeus: Master of Olympus is a unique city-builder game that takes the idea of gamers playing god and managing a city one step further. It’s set in Ancient Greece, where they must build the strongest city.

The player’s objective is to protect the cities from occasional attacks from monsters and other gods from Greek Mythology. Although it was released in 2000, Zeus: Master of Olympus was ahead of its time in terms of the level of detail and graphics.

5) Cleopatra: Queen of the Nile (2000)


Developed by Breakaway Games, Cleopatra: Queen of the Nile is the expansion pack of the popular city-builder game Pharaoh (1998), released in 2000.

Pharaoh is a historic city-builder game as it was the first title in video gaming history to introduce the concept of monument building. This mechanic later diversified and gave rise to several city-building games of the future.

Similar to the original game, Pharaoh, in Cleopatra: Queen of the Nile, players progress from low-ranked-official to becoming the Pharaoh. The game introduces 15 new campaign missions to the original title.

This particular expansion pack of the fan-favorite city-builder game introduced several new changes to its engine level, enhancing the overall monument-building and troop-carrying experience for users. It is definitely one of the classic city-builder titles to try out this summer.

Along with the release of some genre-defining city-builder games, the 2000s were also an excellent decade for simulation games, as seen below.


Five simulation games of naughties that will never get old

1) Sims 2 (2004)


Sims 2 is a live simulation video game that re-defined the entire simulation genre. A sequel to the first Sims game, it lets players customize their characters, create their families and houses, and micro-manage their lives.

Unlike its predecessor, Sims 2 offered an open-ended ending to the story of each designed character. In the title, users have to manage their lifestyle and fulfill the desires and life goals of the Sim characters.

It’s a fun title where gamers can spend multiple hours micro-managing the Sim characters without getting bored.

2) Sims 3 (2009)


Sims 3 has everything in a simulation game for gamers who love micro-managing. It is full of surprises, and hundreds of interactive elements with other Sim characters are there that make it stand out from its competitors.

One of the game’s features is to customize virtually any character the player desires to create. It was so good that it beat its predecessor in almost all gameplay aspects apart from graphics quality.

Sims 3 can easily go down as one of the best role-playing simulation titles ever created. Even though it has been more than a decade since its release, the title offers enough fun engagements to keep re-visiting.

3) Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 (2004)


As the third installment of the Roller Coaster Tycoon series, Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 took the popular construction and management simulation franchise to the next level. It gave users cool features such as CoasterCam, which allowed them to ride roller coasters.

Unlike previous editions of the Roller Coaster Tycoon series, guests come in specific groups, such as adults and teenagers. They have different requirements, and it’s up to the players to micro-manage and keep them happy.

Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 was truly an advanced construction and management simulation title for that era as it gave gamers a full 3D view of their entertainment parks, a feature that was unavailable in other business simulation games of that time.

4) Zoo Tycoon 2 (2004)


Developed by Blue Fang Games and published by Microsoft, Zoo Tycoon is a series of business simulation games that let users build, manage, and expand an entire Zoo from scratch. It enables them to bring and take care of exotic animals from across the world belonging to different wildlife habitats.

This particular simulation title was not only very easy-to-play and fun but also very informative and educational as well.

After the grand success of the first Zoo Tycoon game, the franchise released Zoo Tycoon 2 in 2004. The franchise is all about maintaining happy employees, taking good care of wild animals, and keeping zoo visitors happy and entertained at all costs.

Later in the decade, Zoo Tycoon 2 released several other interesting expansion packs, including Zoo Tycoon: Marine Habitat (2006), Zoon Tycoon: Extinct Animals (2009), and many more.

5) Euro Truck Simulator (2008)


Created by SCS Software, Euro Truck Simulator is a one-of-a-kind truck simulation game that lets players drive around a vast open world inspired by the real-world geography of Europe.

The game’s objectives are simple enough: deliver the cargo from point A to point B in the open world. Users start with a single truck and initially can only transfer goods from the base country that the users choose to begin their campaign.

The Open World in Euro Truck Simulator features Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

As the game progresses, gamers unlock better trucks and more playable countries where they can conduct trucking operations. It genuinely manages to give an authentic experience of driving a cargo truck, and the best part is that the game simulations maintain real-world distances.

Note: This article reflects the author’s views.

Edited by Ravi Iyer

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