It’s been 2 years since the release of SimCity 5, and fans are still reeling from a bad experience. The game was so internally flawed that many players felt the impending end of city-building games. Fortunately, all hope was not lost, as our friends from game developer Colossal Order together with publisher Paradox Interactive rose up to the challenge of making the best city-building game in the business, Cities: Skylines. Did they live up to the challenge? Well, they did! Not only is Cities: Skylines reminiscent of SimCity, it brings together a whole bunch of new features that makes it feel like a new game on its own.
The premise of the game, as in all city-builders, is quite simple. The goal here is to make a city to your liking. That’s it. Whether that city is a slum-infested cesspool or a world class metropolis is really up to you. Of course the game is more complex than that, as you have a lot of things to worry about, such as traffic, taxes, zoning, and the whole shebang.
You start the game by selecting 1 out of 9 maps within which to create your city, and take off from there. The game is not as difficult to learn as most city-builders are. It is full of useful tooltips to help the player progress and learn the basics. . Early on you don’t immediately have access to all the buildings in the game, which is gained by completing a set of objectives – particularly attaining a certain minimum population. This feature is pretty useful especially to new players of the genre who instinctively buy anything they want and end up bankrupt early on. It also gives the player a sense of accomplishment whenever he hits a milestone. Road building is an important part of city-building, and Cities: Skylines does the job beautifully. Zoning tools are simply amazing. The gaming interface is fantastic, and contains all the needed information and issues that your city needs attending to; managing your city becomes a breeze. You would think that making money is the goal of any city-builder, but that’s not the case in this game. Making money is actually not that difficult, which is kind of a reprieve for new players. The map size is large enough (make that VERY LARGE), and eventually you can buy adjacent plots to further increase the size of your city.
There are a lot of fun features which add flavor to the game, setting it apart from other city-builders. For one, you get feedback from your citizens via a Twitter-inspired chat box. It’s funny how your citizens cheer you on for choosing renewable energy by using hashtags such as #greenenergy. The game allows you to adopt City Policies, such as “Recreational Use” (we all know what that means), which feels like a much more detailed variation of City Ordinances in SimCity. Probably a neat new thing introduced by Cities: Skylines is the District feature. Players can create districts within their cities and promote a different set of policies for each respective district. Other new gameplay mechanics such as the concept of road elevation, noise pollution, Unique Buildings, and setting up bus lines are sure to get the player engaged all throughout.
Apart from creating your own city, the game has a Map Editor for players who want to create their very own map. But more interestingly though is the Asset Editor. This mode lets the player create his own buildings, trees, parks, and props for city use. Not creative enough to edit maps or assets? No problem. Players can import player-made maps, assets, and mods from Steam Workshop. The game also comes with 3 mods that alter gameplay: the Hardmode mod, the Unlimited Money mod, and the Unlock All mod ( it unlocks all buildings).
Sadly though, unlike SimCity, the game doesn’t have a disaster feature. It would have been awesome to see your city getting destroyed by earthquakes and tornadoes (let’s face it, we all did this in SimCity). Another thing that they could have added is a multiplayer mode. Currently, the game does not support multiplayer. Traditionally, these games are better off played in single-player mode, but Cities: Skylines feels like it could have pulled off having a multiplayer aspect. But then again, SimCity 5 tried to do that and failed.
Video and Sound
The graphics are stunning to say the least. The details are phenomenal. Players will see trees wither and die when placed next to a heavily polluted industrial zone, and rivers running dark due to the city’s sewage. The best part is seeing kids play with their pets on sidewalks, which is really a nice addition. The background music adds the finishing touch. If you purchased the Deluxe Edition, it includes the soundtrack to the game. That way you can listen to the background music while going on about your real-world mundane activities, and still feel like you’re playing Cities: Skylines!
Overall, Cities: Skylines is a testament that city-building games are here to stay. This game will undoubtedly be replayed over and over by not only veteran city-builders, but also new players alike. This game has set the bar high, and it is unlikely that another one will replace it soon. It’s even priced reasonably. Yes, it’s that good. Move over, SimCity! There’s a new mayor in town!