I was quite excited to review Cities: Skylines especially as I ninja’d it before Ryan and his obsession with anything from Paradox Interactive. City builders have a special place in my heart and having moved on from EA’s SimCity (which I initially enjoyed) I was looking forward to this filling that void.
There isn’t any tutorial so if you’ve not experienced a game from this genre before then I’d suggest visiting the wiki, or watching some videos on YouTube to get to grips with everything. There are subtle hints in the game itself but the majority of the time I had to work things out for myself. The UI is fairly non-invasive and pretty damn similar to SimCity but with ten times more content and features.
This carries on to the building of your city itself; it’s not just a case of plopping down roads, zoning in some residential/commercial/industrial areas and boom you’re done. No, in fact there’s a lot to think about to get yourself established. Rather than just putting down some electric plants and water pumps you’ll need to think about placing power lines to get the electricity to your buildings, as well as a system of pipes underneath for your water. On top of that you’re gonna need to think about where you’ll place a waste pipe, checking the current so that the sewage isn’t flowing the wrong way and polluting your power supply.
There’s a lot to think about, schools need to placed so that your residents can become educated, which in turn will upgrade their homes. You’ll also need to work out where to put your services like hospitals and firefighters in order to best serve the city. As everything expands and your population grows you’ll unlock new facilities, new zoning types and unique buildings. The latter you’ll still need to reach different goals to be able to place in your city, which adds a lot of gameplay time on for the completionists out there.
A great aspect of the game is that as your population becomes more educated, they will want certain types of jobs, so you’ll need to look at zoning in office areas to facilitate them. You can also add in high-density commercial and residential zones to bring in more people (young adults especially) and cater to all the whims that they might have.
The districts feature allows your city to specialise. You paint over current industry zones to have in specialise in forest, farming, ore or oil, but you will need to have the basic resource in place before you’re able to. You can also section your city off into districts and rename them to fit your own personality (Penguin District for me), which becomes rather handy later on when you’re faced with a sprawling metropolitan mass of brick. And you really can get that big because unlike SimCity you have the opportunity to by extra land, nine additional plots in fact for you to build into. It makes the scope much, much bigger. You’ll find that you have to think logically as well on whereabouts to place certain things, because that nice ocean-view plot you’ve got your eye on could end up rather polluted if you leave that drainage pipe upstream.
Another nifty little perk in Cities: Skylines is Policies. As you level up your city you’ll unlock new policies which will add bonuses, for a cost. So for example you can install energy meters in your people’s homes which will reduce electricity consumption but require money to keep running. There’s lots to unlock in here, so it’s fun to play around with different rules to see how it affects your city.
They’ll let you know too, what they think. Through the power of social media of course. Prepare yourself for a barrage of hate, love or mediocrity through the Twitter-like news feed on your UI. I hope you like hashtags. The only niggle here is that you’ll see the same messages come up again and again, and it can lack a bit of variety.
Cities: Skylines is a great, solid city builder and while it could still use a bit of polishing off, I will be spending hours playing around with it. A lot of hard work has clearly gone into focusing on small details to make a real complex, challenging and fun experience. The best part though? Full player mod support. I mean, brilliant, brilliant stuff. As long as there is a fan base, which there no doubt will be, there will be loads of easily implemented mods to keep the good times going for ages. I can’t wait to see what I can add on and enjoy.
Cities: Skylines (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Cities: Skylines is a great, solid city builder and while it could still use a bit of polishing off, I will be spending hours playing around with it. A lot of hard work has clearly gone into focusing on small details to make a real complex, challenging and fun experience.