If you follow Polygon on Twitter, and shame on you if you don't, you might have missed the following announcement on the official Polygon feed a bit more than a week ago:
Reader note: @polygon will not be reviewing SimCity prior to retail release due to limitations EA placed on review sessions.— Polygon (@Polygon) February 22, 2013
I noted something similar in my own feed, specifying that the review situation was not adequate for us to fulfill what I feel our responsibilities are to our readers.
Retweeted because @polygon will also not be reviewing Simcity prior to its retail release.— Arthur Gies (@aegies) February 22, 2013
The original situation stipulated that our reviewer would only be able to play SimCity in a controlled environment at EA's Redwood Shores offices from February 28 to March 1, after which there was some confusion as to whether or not we would be supplied with downloadable code prior to release. This was explained by pointing to SimCity's nature as an online-only title whose final, retail servers would not be live until some time on March 4 for the games wide release.
Unfortunately, after speaking with Russ Pitts, our designated reviewer, along with Polygon's EIC Chris Grant, I decided that this wouldn't be enough time to make any sort of substantive evaluation of SimCity. Russ is also very busy heading up Polygon's Features team, and flying him to California for 48 hours didn't seem like a proper use of his time. I made the call that we would not review SimCity based on the specified review situation, and we let our readers know in the most expedient manner possible.
What followed were extended conversations with EA PR about what we would need in order to properly review SimCity, and to EA's credit, they were willing to work with us to make new arrangements to play the game for the review. I won't get into the particulars, but I can say that Russ has been living in his fictional city of West Pittsex since last Wednesday morning, and only came up for air on March 3 to write the review, which will go live here at 7AM PT on March 4. While five days isn't as long as we would have liked to have for Russ to play SimCity, it is not an atypical amount of time for most reviews, even for longer strategy titles. Given the new review conditions specified, I feel comfortable allowing the review to be published.
Russ played from his computer at home, on development servers used to test the game prior to launch, and as such I must strongly reiterate that our current assessment of the game is provisional on those grounds. If SimCity proves to be unstable at its launch, we will quickly act to update the score until such time as Maxis and EA are able to remedy the situation.
If you have any questions about the review or Polygon's review policies in general, please feel free to ask them here, and I'll answer what I can as I can.