Maxis games have always been a little bit frothy. They’re very up front about the fact that they are games, to the point where they had this as their company ident circa SimCity 2000. “Software toys” sums up Maxis games perfectly for me; they are almost universally open-ended sandbox designs where you’re set loose in a virtual playground to do what you will with the systems Maxis have provided, and they’re presented with a thick layer of light-hearted frothiness to encourage you to have fun. What made Maxis games so successful – up until this point – was the fact that that layer of froth usually concealed a deep and comprehensive game experience lurking beneath. I’ve invested dozens of hours in the various SimCities connecting up plumbing and worrying about my education budget, and even the unapologetic virtual dollhouse of the Sims is surprisingly complex for what it is. They may be frothy, but they are not shallow.