Urban Empires is a strong and healthy mixture of a political simulator and city builder, featuring districts that are not too akin to those found in Cities: Skyline. The entire purpose is to simply and profitably, guide and develop your town through the various eras whilst turning a profit and ensuring that you remain in political power. Keeping citizens happy, politicians and all sorts comfortable will prove to be no easy task.
The first notable and great thing about this game is the easily manageable interface. Everything is neatly laid out and it isn’t hard to find exactly what I am looking for, a few simply clicks will often guide me to exactly where I need to be. From the tech screen to the building menu within a few clicks. Whilst this may be something that sounds like it should be standard; I have encountered more than my fair share of annoying interfaces in other games.
The political side of the game seems to be rather simple, however, a little bit underwhelming but at least it is present. I was half expecting a system where you could manage your party, select different people to represent different things and such. Instead? You are the mayor of the town, I think, it is honestly hard to tell exactly what you are as a bizarre mix of different political jobs are all seemingly mashed into one. You have to win elections to maintain power and as soon as you are there you are almost in total control. Balancing between left and right win isn’t difficult as all, as it seems to me that there is always a sugar-sweet spot where everyone is mostly happy or at the very least what you want to be accepted is put through.
The economy is rather confusing as well, whilst I understand entirely that you are required to balance between housing, commercial and industrial zones within your district. It seems that I am constantly fluctuating through drastic increases and decreases in wealth, often I find myself looking away from my screen for upwards of ten minutes in order to simply wait to be able to afford to move on to the next thing. It didn’t take long for it to become an unbearable grind as I tried to keep up with the tutorial but instead found myself having to wait over and over again. One of my friends told me that I should try meeting the demands of what type of building zone is required and most wanted by the population. Whilst I did attempt this, I swiftly found that the numbers sometimes never deviated from zero. As if no one wanted to move in, leaving the economy stagnant.
The game has promise however as I easily managed to play through two enjoyable first hours before I started to notice these problems. Graphically, the game is nothing too groundbreaking but regardless the style is enjoyable and pleasing to the eye. Relaxing music plays through my headphones each time I boot the game up and the game feels like it is something I could sink a few more hours into. (Until I get frustrated with the grind of course.)
Urban Empire (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
For now, I would strongly recommend this game for those that enjoyed Cities: Skylines and other similar simulators such as Tropico. For the almost £30 asking price however? You are better off getting Cities: Skylines if you wish to simply focus on a producing a productive and interactive city. In a few more patches this game could be something great.