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Description: Great Lakes-area post-Victorian-age coastal city with a mixture of run-down housing and wealthy city districts
Custom Content: None
Store Content: None
Stuff Packs: Fast Lane, Outdoor Living
World Review Rating: 7.3/10
A lot of user-created worlds strive to be polished works of art, where all is well and things are tidy in all corners of the map. And that’s perfectly fine! But this is not the case with Fortress Rock; in fact, there seems to be a cultivated grittiness to the entire world. That, in some ways, is what makes it appealing. The creator makes it sound much worse than it actually is, though, so in reality there is plenty of beauty to be found.
From the context of the creator’s other work, this city seems to be a Great Lakes-coastal island city, with its suburban counterpart Grey Meadows (see the creator’s page) nearby. The colors of the landscape and the deciduous trees (without Seasons installed) seem to fit well with that theme. With the eighth expansion pack installed, rain-filled days and cloudy weather serve to complement the environment perfectly.
The city appears to be divided into about five different island districts, all of them with Victorian-age homes in varying stages of wear, remodel, and renewal: the central Downtown area, with the skyscrapers and high-rise apartments; New Hades (the slum) and the industrial district; the Gothic Quarter and its medium-size townhouses and row houses; the wealthy suburbanite residences and the security-gated houses; and the Huckleberry Lane district that culminates in the town’s oldest standing, castle-like house.
First we’ll take a look at New Hades. In line with the unappealing name, the neighborhood itself was designed to look run-down and shoddy, with peeling paint and well-weathered wood predominantly used in the interior and exterior decoration of the houses. Down the street from the docks are the warehouse and Science building, followed by a pair of unkempt graveyards and what appear to be old ruins of a building. Further down are several decrepit row houses that function as apartments; the creator here warns you that things are old, rotting, and lacking in space, and he is right. At the very end of the street there is a large security-gated manor occupied by the creator’s sort-of-Simself, with an ominous-sounding backstory that contributes to the macabre air of the neighborhood.
Next we have the Downtown area, which is the center of town and thus quite busy. As always, there may be some issues with lag, but if your computer can handle Bridgeport then it will have no problem with this part of Fortress Rock. This part of town is actually fairly attractive, especially near the brownstone townhouses and Union Park, the large park that could easily be converted into Festival Grounds if you have Seasons. The apartments here have more space than the ones in New Hades, and possibly older adult Sims or childless younger couples would be most comfortable here, or even a small family without too many kids. The high-rises in the very center of town are good for young adults, just like in Bridgeport. There is a complement of Late Night lounges and clubs present here.
Then there is the Gothic Quarter, which contains venues such as a consignment shop, a laundromat, and a Vampire Lounge. In the center of the neighborhood there is a large cathedral and a small, attractive park with a gazebo. The townhouses and row houses are roomy enough for small families, although don’t expect too much space per house at that.
The next two islands have large hills on one side of each one, and it’s assumed that the richer the Sims are the higher on the hill they live. This is true of Huckleberry Lane, the road that winds up the hill to the Manor of Hogs. This is the oldest standing house in the city, and as such has both a Victorian and a castle theme. Although the Manor stands empty, since it’s a large lot it’s not for a starting family. There are stories of former residents of the manor living “nearby”, by which is meant in one of the nearby houses.
Down the hill from the Manor of Hogs lies a series of small-medium houses that are all named after various natural disasters. Since there aren’t any actual natural disasters in-game, these houses are perfectly acceptable for small families. At the bottom of the hill there are a couple of tiny and fairly unattractive houses just sitting about, but they’re better than the slums. Still, the lots are truly tiny, and if you don’t spend a little time with the terrain-leveling tool when you’re playing them you’ll end up with routing failures. Many of them are already equipped with box stalls, so these houses would be perfect for city-dwelling equestrians.
Finally, there is the wealthy suburbanite island, which boasts a pair of security-gated houses at the top of the hill and some slightly smaller but fairly high-quality houses further down. There is a small number of empty lots here that can be used as venues for the later expansion packs. They were obviously designed for residential purposes, but not all are labeled as such.
The city has all the venues from the first six expansion packs, but some of the more generic community lots can easily be converted to other types. As commented before, rain and clouds seem to suit this world, but it also looks nice with a blanket of clean, white snow concealing its dirt and grime.
The biggest concern about this world lies in the size of its residential lots. Although the city itself doesn’t seem to be all jammed together, the residential lots are tiny and difficult to move around on. If your Sim family needs to expand, they’d better be prepared to build straight up. And if your family is just starting out, the selection of houses does not fall into the attractive category as much as it does the cheap category. Your starting choices are the New Hades row apartment, some of the high-rises in the center of the city, or a couple of the more out-of-the-way houses on the edges of the islands. None of these are particularly kid-friendly, but they’re a start. There is one 64×64 lot for your legacy-building enjoyment, but that is all in terms of large, roomy lots on which to build. Basically, this world does a good job of emulating one of the things that people hate most about cities: space is at a premium.
(Oh, yes…being a lover of Easter Eggs in any game or movie, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that apparently the creator is a fan of Doctor Who. Since it wouldn’t be an Easter Egg if you didn’t find it yourself, I won’t tell you where it is. It’s not hard to find, and suffice to say that when I saw the Easter Egg, there was no mistaking it. Brilliant!)
Summary: Fortress Rock, being a busy, pre-populated city, has a lot of potential for gameplay, and with the intriguing backstory provided, it looks and sounds like it would be quite interesting to explore. It has a very unique form of entropic realism that some may not appreciate. Like real cities, this one is dirty and space is limited. So don’t be too disappointed with the residential lots; just know that most of them, while being well-constructed, are not going to be very roomy–and thus they fit perfectly with the theme of a true-to-life city.
Terrain painting: 8/10
Well-built lots: 5/10
Better than an EA world: 9/10
Visit Creator’s Post for more images and information.
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