City building… It’s a genre of game that I’ve long been a fan of, but with most of my gaming on home consoles, there’s not been quite as much choice.
Sim City 2013’s early issues killed any chance of a console release, and while Tropico and the more recent Aven Colony are great titles, non really hit the core of building your own Nottingham, London or New York.
Cities : Skylines doesn’t just give you the option of making an actual city, just like home or your closest Capital, it gives you the perfect opportunity to do so, with a system that for many, is far better than any recent offerings from EA and Sim City. That’s right, this isn’t a Sim City clone, Cities : Skylines is the game to beat if EA do return to the genre.
Just as you’d imagine from the genre, life starts with a plain patch of land, with a few busy roads leading to and from your game area, you’ll start off placing a few roads and then the task begins with the zones… Industrial, Commercial and Residential…
Thanks to a easy to navigate and inviting layout, you’ll have no trouble getting started, with Skylines giving you pointers and only opening what you’ll need early on, while still providing the information to progress as quickly as you wish.
With each road you lay down, the game will display a small grid of available space near the roads, this helps quickly set up a small area and then select which areas will be designated for each zone. By this point you’ll make a start ensuring they all have water and electricity and you’ll already notice new businesses and homes popping up in your city, I made the mistake of starting large far too many times, before realising you can’t just build a Milton Keynes unless you have infinite money turned on (a welcome option for Sandbox fans)
Progressing further and small bars in the bottom corner, give you an easy view of what areas are required in order for your city to thrive, and before you know it you’ll be approaching a thousand residents and starting to juggle in Schools, Hospitals, Police and Fire stations.. This is merely the tip of the iceberg, but possibly the first stepping stone to creating a massive Metropolis, because once you can effectively manage a thousand residents keeping fires and crime to a minimum while having waste and sewerage cleared quickly, you’ll find the foundations for expansion are plentiful.
This first real step, might take you up to an hour, possibly even 2 or 3 if you restart a few times due to bad decisions, but moving forward from here is where Cities Skylines really starts to shine, seeing your populated creation starting to bloom, zooming in to street level to see your city lit up at night or starting to build high density areas such as shopping centres or sky-scrapers and what might have felt like your small local town is fast becoming that large nearby city, sure there’s woe’s to contend with, but with careful management, passing that first major step, will also turn Cities Skylines from a game to a time consuming obsession
Cities Skylines is a beautiful game, whether it’s the humble beginnings with a small water tower and nothing more than a handful of houses, or a few hours in with your first Skyscrapers and busy hospitals and shopping districts, there’s plenty of detail at every level, the semi-automatic nature of buildings takes away much of the placement stress, enabling you to deal with your game world on a City level rather than street-by-street, but if you want to watch a set building and see how happy the residents are then it’s all an option.
There’s literally dozens of options for starting a game, but you may well find, your first game will last hundreds of hours. Slowly expanding your beginnings into a town, city or super City, but you’ll have to think smart, place the sewerage pump too close to the water pump and you’ll start poisoning your inhabitants putting a major strain on the health service. Or set-up a poor road system and you’ll need twice as many police and fire stations to make up for the time lost battling through the congestion.
It’s quite difficult to highlight what really sets Cities: Skylines as a fantastic game, because the level of quality is consistently high across the board. Even the audio which is an area you might not associate directly with city building, is tough to criticise, wether it’s the mellow background music, busy urban atmosphere or the hum of traffic on the roads, it all helps to make your city feel big, busy and alive.
You’ll easily throw away hours and hours fine tuning your creation, whether it’s finding the perfect site for the statue of liberty, or trying to ensure every corner of your residential district is within easy access of work and leisure facilities.
The options really are endless, and while achieving your first international airport or monument might be easier with unlimited money or milestones unlocked, it’s starting from scratch and building up from an empty plot of land to a bustling super-city that will give you a true feeling of accomplishment (and possibly wash away weeks of your life)
Bottom Line :
There’s no doubt that fans of City builders will fall in love with Cities : Skylines and the near perfect console conversion is a joy for anyone without a powerful enough PC or a preference for the comfort of control pad with a big screen.
There’s certainly a few other games in the genre, but if you want a high quality, fun, rewarding and addictive city builder, then Cities Skylines is an absolute must buy.
Gameplay : 9
Graphics : 8.5
Sound : 8.5
Story : 8
Value : 9