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2023-06-14 19:11:54

LGR - Cities - Skylines Review (from 2015)

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Well , here it is .

After over a decade of waiting us Sim City fans have finally got what we wanted .

The next flagship game in the Sim City franchise cities , Skylines , at least it should be if you ask me because Skylines sets out to be everything Sim City five should have been .

And I'm still in denial that that game ever happened .

And just to clear up any confusion , this is not a Sim City game and this also has nothing to do with the C XL series by focus Home Interactive .

This is a completely different game from different people .

Entirely Skylines is a game for PC Macintosh and Linux published by Paradox Interactive and developed by Colossal Order , the Finland based team that also made the cities in motion series .

But while those were more business simulations geared towards managing mass transit systems , Skylines is a proper old school city builder in the vein of Sim City as a Sim City player .

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Since the 1989 original , I was chomping at the bit to get my hands on this thing .

Paradox sent me an early review copy that I've spent about 40 hours on so far .

Does it succeed in its goal of topping Sim City ?

Let's find out City skylines begins with the main menu and get this .

There's no requirement to sign into a server in Antarctica to play .

In fact , there's no multiplayer at all .

And that is fine by me starting a new game prompts you with nine premade maps to choose from based on different environmental themes , resource allocations and outside connections , name your city and choose what side of the road traffic should drive on .

And it's time to get this zoning party started as is tradition , you start with a blank plot of land and a set of tools at your disposal .

Generally , the goal is to build a city , grow it as big as you like and make sure that it doesn't die .

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You have a single highway connection to start out with which acts as the first of many entrances to your city , use the road tools to draw some roads and you'll see that you're supplied with groups of tiles extending from either side of them .

These tiles can be filled with three types of zones , residential , commercial and industrial , which will become homes , shops and factories .

Although more of them will come into play later on like high density residential and commercial zones as well as office zones .

The central system of R C I demand is very much the core here .

The more demand for a zone you have , the more people will move in then to fill those zones .

So you'll want to balance their placement with the other needs of the city like power .

And you've got the standard assortment of coal , oil , wind , solar hydro and nuclear power plants that unlock at different points in the game .

Water is also needed which you source by placing water pumps and towers as well as water pipes that must be laid underneath the city .

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Sewage is the third main need to fulfill , which at first is just a big set of pipes that vomit pollution into your water supply .

But later on can be replaced with proper water treatment facilities and much like newspapers and games past you get a constant information update from this Twitter like app called Chirper , which was useful for about five minutes before I turn the thing off .

And this is sounding mighty familiar if you've played practically any Sim City game since 1993 .

And that's definitely on purpose .

Even the very aesthetic of the game borrows heavily from games past notably Sim City Five's tilt shift effect skylines unashamedly makes use of a Sim City esque look and feel to everything from the designs of the buildings to the color scheme of the infographics .

In fact , this is about as shameless a clone as you can imagine .

But you know what calling it a Sim City clone is doing Skylines a huge disservice because unlike that game , this doesn't suck .

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Skylines truly is a game that's greater than the sum of its parts .

Whereas Sim City five and cities XL for instance , were the polar opposite .

Everything here feels like it's included for your enjoyment rather than just to conform to a designed by committee idea of what a city builder should be .

For one thing , you're not limited to your initial map size , that starting plot of land is two square kilometers .

But once you start reaching its borders , you have the option to buy more up to 36 square kilometers worth .

You have a gloriously huge plot of land to play with here with every inch of it available for you to build on .

And if you want even more land , you can mod the game to do so , although it may cause some performance problems , but I've yet to feel constrained just playing Skylines as is since there's more than enough space for me to really settle in and play for weeks on end .

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However , there is no regional play here as you can only have one city in a save game at once and there are no neighboring cities to play as or do direct business deals with .

So that's kind of a bummer .

But thankfully , there's another option .

Districts are in addition to skylines that I am absolutely in love with .

Basically , these are cities within a city and you can simply paint them on the map the same way you can with zones .

Once you create a district you can name it anything you want , pass unique laws and ordinances there and apply .

Specializations .

Specializations are the game's way of handling natural resources like mineral deposits , crude oil , forestry and farming .

There's no need for giant palpable buildings to drill for oil .

All you have to do is place a district and change its specialization and any industrial zones within that space will convert over to utilizing your chosen resource .

And each new plot of land that you buy will contain its own selection of new resources .

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So you can easily have a town that relies on oil and another on forestry and another on gemstones all working together for the greater good of your city's bank vault .

Although I would love even more options for these districts personally , you can already do things like provide free public transit , install smoke detectors , encourage recycling , ban pets or even legalize recreational drug use .

So that's all good .

But let me really micromanage the crap out of things like car pooling incentives and mandatory dimmer switches and banning grape jelly .

I could really get into this .

Speaking of banning things , you can also do things like make it .

So a district doesn't allow trucks to pass through , which is not only good for reducing noise pollution but is also good for minimizing traffic problems or more likely creating new ones .

Since traffic here is one of the single biggest challenges of the game being from the creators of cities in motion that is probably to be expected .

But thankfully , it's not nearly as overwhelming as it was in that game .

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You're not going to be setting individual bus schedules or ticket fares or anything like that .

But it does make a ton of good moves and how it handles its traffic model .

And I'd say it's probably one of the best agent based systems .

I've seen everything you see can be followed , tracked and even named .

So it's easy to see your traffic problem areas just by looking at a quick glance , upgrading roads is also a breeze compared to other games I've played .

And there are a slew of interesting tools at your disposal for creating everything from roundabouts to clover leaf intersections to raised highways with sound barriers .

But there is a suspicious lack of any real fine details to check off , like being able to create your own lanes for each road type or disable traffic lights on roundabouts .

In fact , the transit may be downright underwhelming for some since you can't even see a list of individual bus or train routes .

Not to mention naming things is basically pointless since there's no way to track them after you lose line of sight .

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Basically , it's a little easy to feel left out of the loop when it comes to information .

And that's one of my chief complaints about the game and this doesn't just apply to track , but the things like zone demand , abandoned buildings and city services .

All of these work together in a symbiotic system of controlled chaos .

But without the proper tools to manage it , it's easy to feel burdened by the simplest things after your city reaches a certain size .

And once I passed 50,000 citizens or so , my city went through some major growing pains and part of this was caused by my own negligence and naivete .

But most of the time I felt like it was because I wasn't told what was going on and had to really break everything down via trial and error .

For instance , your city not only has health care but death care .

So hospitals are just as important as cemeteries and crematoriums which are constantly sending out hearses to pick up the dead .

That's all well and good .

But the thing is if a single person dies and they're not hauled off in time , then the entire building they were in is abandoned and must be demolished .

Seriously .

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It can be a 100 story skyscraper .

But if a person on floor 42 dies of old age and everyone moves out , so you have to tear down the entire building .

So you'd better have decently optimized traffic flow or basically everything in your city is going to fail .

Here's an example of the domino effect that really quickly takes place where you have a single person that dies , but the hearse can't reach them in time .

So the building is abandoned , then the building catches fire because it's an increased fire hazard .

But the firemen can't get there because they're caught in traffic with the hearses .

Then the building burns down and criminals start moving in because the land value decreased .

And then you've got more police cars on the road which only adds to the initial traffic problems you had in the first place .

It's a vicious cycle that gets out of control fast if you're not keeping an insanely close eye on things .

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And I would prefer to see some of this information displayed more clearly , being able to see a service buildings area of effect and vehicle routes would be great as would an indicator of why a building was abandoned because abandonment is a red flag for all sorts of things , not just dead bodies .

At the same time though , once I started to figure these systems out , the challenge in fixing them is hugely rewarding games like cities XL and Sim City five were entirely too easy .

And if you screwed those cities up , that was a real feat of ineptitude here .

A doomed city can arise from something as simple as building a couple of intersections instead of a multi lane traffic circle .

And that's kind of awesome .

But while we're on the subject of small gripes , why can't I edit the terrain during gameplay ?

On most maps ?

It's no problem since you want flat land .

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But on those with geographical challenges , even just some basic terrain smoothing tools would be great as what a way to place trees using a brush tool since placing them individually is super tiresome .

Also , why is there no day , night cycle ?

You do get some neat features to adjust the color palette of the game .

But it'd be nice to be able to see my city at night just for an occasional change of scenery .

But another nice thing is that if you tire of the prefab maps , you can try the built-in map editor .

This immediately made me realize just how much I missed being able to edit the terrain in Sim City five .

These tools are intuitive and powerful just as they should be letting you create anything you'll find in the premade maps and play freely with the game's dynamic water simulation .

Though I do wish you could at least use some of these tools while you're building cities as you can only do this externally before you start playing .

There's also an asset editor which reminds me of the old Sim City 2000 Urban Renewal kit here .

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You can edit existing buildings , roads and objects or you can import and create your own using external 3D models .

And this all ties in with the Steam Workshop feature of the game which allows you to share and download mods and custom content .

They've made it so that just about every aspect of the game can be modded .

There are even some included mods from the developers which act as cheats and difficulty settings in lieu of more traditional menu options .

Hm .

Yeah , let me just say it .

This is the game that I've been craving since Sim City Four .

Even with my complaints since really , they're just drops in a sea of truly satisfying game play .

This is the kind of game that I can play for so many hours at a time that when I leave , I start seeing zone layouts on my ceiling and traffic patterns in my cereal .

Just give me a pot of coffee and watch me while away .

Dozens of hours creating the perfect balance of land value city services and mass transit systems and be completely content .

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It's blissful , stressful and compelling on a level that few games ever achieve for me anymore .

There are so many details that I truly dig like the way you can paint zones with different brushes , the sweeping orchestral soundtrack , the guidelines that appear when placing roads , the fact you can flood your city if you dam a river improperly , the way each zone has buildings that fit into any plot shape and on and on and it runs pretty great too .

Even when surpassing 100,000 citizens .

It's still played solidly with minimal frame rate issues on both my desktop and laptop .

Colossal order has pulled off a colossal order .

Indeed , they made a better SIM city than Max's Could Re Scott in and all this with a comparatively small budget .

A team of 20 something people and the unity engine just .

Wow , City skylines is a total slap in the face to Sim City five .

And man , is it a great thing to behold ?

And finally the whole game costs 29 99 .

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You heard me ?

He get twice the game at half the price .

Folks .

This is what I like to call doing it , right ?

They could have charged double and I still would recommend it .

But for 30 bucks , are you serious ?

This is a top notch game at a bargain launch price .

And it makes me want to cry , tears of joy if you've longed for another great city builder like I have or simply want to try one out for the first time .

I don't hesitate at all in saying City Skylines is a superb choice .

And if you found this review useful or enjoyable or perhaps even both , then you might like some of my others .

I've covered cities double XL and Sim City and a bunch of other things .

There are links to right here as well as in the description .

So check those out if you'd like and you can also check out my channel for videos on a whole bunch of other things as well as new videos coming every Monday and Friday .

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So subscribing is an option as is following and interacting with me on Twitter and Facebook for other things throughout the week , as well as Patreon , which helps the show continue and be more awesome over time .

And as always , thank you very much for watching .


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