There has always been a demand for city building games on the since the early days of SimCity everyone has wanted to indulge in their secret fantasy of being a city builder. Whether you want to create the perfect melting pot of humanity, a playground for your destructive tendencies or you just want to prove your local council that it isn’t nearly as hard as they say it is, city builders are always on demand.
And for most of the genres lifetime, the reigning champion of city builders was SimCity itself, in whatever incarnation it existed in. That was until its latest outing. That was until now. Cities: Skylines was something of a ghost before it appeared, not getting much attention as yet another clone of a game it could never match, but once you get your hands on it, you’ll see just how much Cities has to offer.
This is a game that doesn’t so much eat away at your time as it does drink it through a straw. You might start with an hour to spare, wanting to plot out the early stages of your ideal metropolis, but before you know it, that last little bit of pipe work you need to do will be at five in the morning. What’s more is that you won’t even care. What makes Cities such a wondrous little game is the simplicity of it all. Despite the need to balance the water system and electrical output, the demand of the population and an often overloaded road system, everything you need to do is easy and smooth to execute. Cities: Skylines is not a hard game, and once you’ve stumbled over the beginning puzzlement you’ll find yourself leading a population of a few hundred into a field of skyscrapers that could each house what you started with. This is a game that will have you hating the morning commute, knowing you could have orchestrated a much more effective and efficient road network yourself.
The visual satisfaction of building a city is almost overwhelming. What once started as a small clearing in a single square of land becomes a jungle of concrete, farms and factories. Although you’ll be sinking in tens of hours before your city resembles the nebulous system of building and roads you expected, each step is fun and gratifying. And the graphics themselves are very crisp, with beautiful colourful contrasts between your city and the nature around it. Watching residential areas slowly develop from empty plots to bustling neighbourhoods is an early taste of the games smoothly paced development.
The scope of the potential city that lies before you is almost bewildering, but the game paces you perfectly, building on each sizable plot of land before letting you buy and expand into the next. It keeps the growth and imagination grounded in something more tangible and thwarts off the feeling of over complication.
Combined with the musical score, every player feels like the Mayor Of The Year on a constant basis. The music is nearly always triumph, giving you a sense of achievement in every feat you accomplish, however significant of benign. Every action, and indeed inaction feels like a step forward for your city, as you march towards a skyline peppered in luxury apartments and towering office blocks. A lot of your time on Cities will be spent watching out for crisis’s and awaiting the next issue to emerge that will attract your omnipotent gaze. Although some issues, like fires, cannot be intervened with, and you’ll just have to wait patiently for the fire department to do their job.
Building a city, from the initial visualization all the way to the completion feels a lot like painting a picture. Each city will have a completely unique feel to it, from the way you organise your space to the development of each building. My first city was built with circles in mind, as each neighbour would be placed inside its own pod, that connected to the rest of the city via branches. And with simple tools to help you create your dream cityscape, your imagination can allow you to explore some wild, and impossible ideas.
And with comprehensive modding tools and steam workshop accessibility, any and every building and location can and probably does exist within the game. Whether you want to create a more Mediterranean vibe or simply add in a few local landmarks, this catalogue of user designed content and the ability to create your own means that nothing is out of the question, and personal cities are a staple. Cities even lets you, with a bit of tweaking, add in the geography of real world locations, allowing you to craft your favourite city on top of the hills it was built on.
But its not just the building that makes Cities: Skyline one of the best in its genre. Once your city has reached a plateau, where the space is filled and the skyline towering, the satisfaction of growing what was once your humble hamlet slips into the pleasure of operating a efficient, gigantic metropolis. From public transport, the policies you want to enact, to the education of your citizens, everything has the potential to operate among the highest echelons of productivity and you’ll be satisfied each time you come close.
Cities: Skyline is a game for everyone, whether you spend an entire weekend painstaking crafting a city, or ease into it over the course of a few weeks. With its simple controls and depth of work, no one will overly or under taxed, except your citizens. Although it doesn’t offer the mad hat disasters of its more famous rival, what Cities: Skylines does offer is a beautiful, comprehensive and engrossing city builder that will have you dreaming in pylons and thinking in bus routes.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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