The unexpected and enduring success of the original SimCity, combined with the relative lack of success with other "Sim" titles, finally motivated the development of a sequel. SC2K was a major extension of the concept; the view was now dimetric instead of overhead, land could have different elevations, and underground layers were introduced for water pipes and subways.
New types of facilities included prisons, schools, libraries, museums, marinas, zoos, stadiums, hospitals (although they appeared randomly on residential blocks in the first SimCity, they could not be built by the player) and arcologies. Players could build highways, roads, bus depots, railway tracks, subways, train depots and zone land for seaports and airports. There are a total of nine varieties of power plants in SC2K, including coal, natural gas, wind turbines, hydroelectric dams (which can only be placed on waterfall tiles) and the futuristic fusion power and satellite microwave plant. Most types of power plants have a limited life span and must be rebuilt periodically.
The budget and finance controls are also much more elaborateâ€”tax rates can be set individually for residential, commercial and industrial zones. Enacting city ordinances and connecting to neighbouring cities became possible.
Another new addition in SC2K is the query tool. Using the query tool on tiles reveals information such as structure name and type, altitude, and land value. Certain tiles also display additional information; power plants, for example, display the percentage of power being consumed when queried, and querying roads displays the amount of traffic on that tile. Querying a library and selecting 'Ruminate' displays an essay written by Neil Gaiman.
Graphics were added for buildings under construction in the residential, commercial, and industrial zones, as well as darkened buildings depicting abandoned buildings as a result of urban decay.
This special edition includes the Urban Renewal Kit and Disaster Scenarios add-ons and has the signatures of the designers (including Will Wright) on both the box and CD-ROM.