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I was wondering if mountains, slopes, valleys, lakes and seas have any advantages or benefits in Simcity 4. If I remember it correctly, waterpumps in Simcity 2000 had to be close to a lake or a river. Is this still the case in Simcity 4?

I was thinking of creating one big flat region with only a sea, some rivers and a few lakes. Unless there are good reasons to have a few mountains or slopes.

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Landscaping do very little in SimCity 4. Land terrain - mountains, hills and cliffs - exist mainly to:

  1. Allow you to simulate real world cities by importing an elevation map of existing cities, allowing you to recreate famous cities of the world
  2. Give yourself a challenge, since hilly cities are much tougher to build around than a flat one.
  3. Proximity to bodies of water and high elevation has a small positive effect on land value. As can be seen from the screenshot below, this effect is not very significant, but it exists.

Seas and oceans give you the ability to build seaports, ferries and beaches. Otherwise they do not affect your city in any way. Water towers and pumps can be placed anywhere, as long as there isn't water pollution.

Cliffs do not prevent the spread of air pollution, as can be seen here, the pollution spreads out equally over both sides of this steep cliff in a perfect circle.

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Awesome, thanks! Do you know if the trees you can plant in "God Mode" also prevent or reduce the spreading of air pollution? If so, it might be a good idea to cover the entire region in trees before starting cities? –  Kristof Claes Mar 12 '13 at 9:18
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@KristofClaes Trees are the only thing that will stop air pollution. There is no difference between the tree you plant in God mode before you begin and trees you plant as mayor after they mature, so take the opportunity to plant as much as possible, for free before you begin –  Private Pansy Mar 12 '13 at 9:51
    
Got it! Thanks again. –  Kristof Claes Mar 12 '13 at 9:55
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Mountains stop air pollution spreading. in SC4 Water pumps need to be close to non-polluted water source. (no matter regarding if it's a river or a lake). Only water tour can be build far from water but their efficiency is very low in comparison with waterpumps

Also if you don't create river connected to the edge of the city the commercial port won't be in use since it only works by exchanging hypothetic goods with to other cities.

But the main natural elements which affect gameplay is Tree (Not sure if there is difference between trees you grow yourself and the one from area editor mode). They can do miracle. Trees can:

  • stop and absorb pollution
  • improve need for High Tech Industries nearby
  • raise quality of life of sims.
  • can also stimulate the need for high density residential area and then make close building grow

I love them, they really are the best tool to enhance a well build city (remember that you can plant trees on existing building free space (garden, park, road side, etc...)

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Pumps do not need to be built near sources of water. You're thinking of SC3k here. –  Private Pansy Mar 12 '13 at 3:43
    
In addition, the terrain does not significantly affect air pollution. See my answer. –  Private Pansy Mar 12 '13 at 4:08
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