Cities: Skylines – Review

After the disaster that was Simcity 2013 I have been keen to check out as many city simulations as possible. Being able to plan the lives of thousands of people with elevator music playing in the background is where I find a sense of peace at times. Previous games such as Banished provided elements like survival and the possibility of complete eradication which was a refreshing angle to the genre but didn’t really scratch the itch that was there. Now, Paradox Entertainment and Colossal Order have added another contender to the mix, boasting a simple platform that allows a broad range of creativity from workshop content.

Starting off on the right foot, Colossal Order has made Cities: Skylines completely offline which I am a big fan of. I don’t need friends telling me that I should build more power plants for them to power their Vegas strip of casinos. Cities: Skylines removes all need of other players (in a gameplay sense) and allows you to create cities beyond your wildest dreams. To accomplish this they given the player to expand a city from the original 2 x 2 kilometre square into a sprawling metropolis complete with multiple transport systems and completely simulated citizens dubbed “Cims.”

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It gets fairly difficult to talk about Cities: Skylines without comparing it to Simcity as they are almost identical in concept and implementation. Even the individual zones are the same as each other but that could just help the player get familiar with colours that they have known for years of previous games. Getting familiar with Cities: Skylines does take some time as there is no inherent tutorial system or starting town for you to be guided through the basic setup of an economic metropolis. Instead, you dive headfirst into your very own city and away you go. I would have liked a basic tutorial to jog my memory of past city builders but I picked it up none the less but I’m wondering about what new features I may have missed along the way. Learning as you go would be something that any city planner would go through on their first day and you will indeed make mistakes (like putting a immovable cemetery into an area that turned into a heavy commercial district).

There is no set difficulty when it comes to Cities: Skylines because it is based on how well you perform and what choices you make with your city. If you decide to spend your first 40k on your perfectly zoned road system and then realise that you forgot to account for power lines and water pipes, you’re gonna have a hard time trying to recoup those funds and start progressing. This can lead to terrifying moments where you have to wait for payday to come in which allows you to build that power plant that keeps your city functioning. If you think you will miss anything don’t worry, your “Cims” have got you covered… Kind of.

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If there is a mass issue with your city your Cims will let you know about it via a Twitter like platform named “Chirper” which gives you updates about policies you have introduced and decisions you have made regarding your city. These can change from informative and interesting to annoying and repetitive but I still like that it is apart of the game. There is even a mod that changes your Chirper feed to community approved messages to liven up your town. Unfortunately, there seems to be a trend with the amount of dependence there is on the community driven side of this wonderful city builder.

The game doesn’t necessarily do anything innovative but what it implements is does so well it’s hard to fault it. This is what the city simulator genre needed and it’s what Cities: Skylines has brought to the table. It has been stripped back to it’s bare bones and it worked on the core gameplay elements, making them the best they could be.

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Two faults I can find with the game is that there’s no way to specialise into a certain type of city. You can’t build a tourist hub and plop down casinos, nor can you specialise in a particular industry. While the districts help organise your city and their policies, it won’t affect the overall production to the extent that ,em>Simcity does. This can lead to dull moments in the first few hours where you are just waiting for the next 1000 citizens to move in so you can expand into another area or plop down a new building that you unlock along with it.

The other is that there are limited building models that appear within your city which can lead to you seeing 3 of the same shops be created right next to each other in quick succession. While Colossal Order have tried to rectify this with the workshop content additions, it’s lazy game design forcing players to create their own special buildings to make their city look more realistic or varied than others.

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With the original 30 dollar price tag of Cities: Skylines, people were wondering if Colossal Order would deliver the same amount of content as a fully priced 60 dollar game and I believe that it have done so and more. While the game depends on workshop content it allows players to develop content and improve the game in multiple ways.

Rating: 8.5/10

For this review we have also added a quick video to provide a brief overview of this review. Let us know what you think and any changes you would like to see.