I wanted to give a bit of a review on a game that was released this month by Colossal Order and Paradox Interactive, called Cities: Skylines.
Now, I realize that this is The Sims Wiki, and that the developer of The Sims is also the developer of a very well-known, and perhaps infamous, city-builder simulation game. But I also know that city builder sims have a lot of cross-over appeal, and that I and many others were more than a little disappointed with SC2013's numerous bugs, (at least initial) always-on connection requirement, microscopic city sizes, and poor traffic management issues. In short, there are several people on this wiki that might be interested in learning about a potential new city builder game, especially if that city builder rivals or exceeds the quality of SimCity, or perhaps even the quality of the fabled SimCity 4.
Since SC2013, I have been skeptical of city builder games and have happily stuck to my familiar SC4, as have a lot of other players. So when this game was released, I was not interested in acquiring it; why waste my money on a game that I know I will not enjoy as much as SC4, especially if it is riddled with the same problems that plague SC2013? Fortunately, I did a little bit of research and saw some reviews, then immediately threw down the $30 to purchase the game (yes, only $30, as opposed to SC2014's $60 price tag at launch). I was not disappointed.
Skylines plays much like your standard city simulator, and in many cases rather shamelessly rips off the SimCity franchise. You, as mayor, are responsible for building the infrastructure, setting the zones, adopting policies, managing finances, adjusting tax rates, and generally working as a benevolent (or not) dictator over your city, helping it evolve from tiny hamlet to mega metropolis. You start with a blank map, similar in size (if not exactly the same size) as the SC2013 city map. You begin only able to place certain types of roads, only low-density zones, and only power, water and sewage service infrastructure. As you build and develop your city, you unlock city services, like police and fire services, schools, clinics and hospitals, as well as higher-capacity transportation options, and reward/unique buildings.
This all sounds very familiar to anyone who has ever played a city simulator, and SC2013 in particular. But this is where Skylines begins to stand apart from its competition. You see, after you pass certain population thresholds, along with the introduction of new buildings and services, you are able to expand your city by purchasing neighboring city tiles, all of which are the same size as your staring tile (2km2). To my knowledge, you can purchase up to nine of the 25 tiles that make up a map, in any orientation you choose as long as the tiles are contiguous.
Skylines features a lot of control over traffic in your city. Aside from different transport options (including subways/metros, which are not in SC2013), you have a large degree of control over how mass transit is organized and utilized. You set different routes for transit throughout the city, and can increase or decrease efficiency of the whole network based on how you choose to set up the network. The traffic simulator is a bit on the wonky side, but certainly not any worse than SC2013, and the improved methods for network construction and mass transit control should empower you to fiddle around with everything enough to get the city running smoothly. Overall, Skylines offers much more in the way of traffic and traffic management than SC13 ever did.
- Other details
- Aesthetics. Graphically, the game is on-par with SC2013, though many lots and buildings are a bit scant on details. Overall, the game is not ugly but it is not the most beautiful game out there either.
- Performance. The game runs very smoothly, even with graphics turned up to full and in larger cities. Sources I have found online indicate that performance may be hampered by very large cities (in excess of 100k citizens).
- No region play. Skylines is a single-player game, and each save file has only one city in it. Your city cannot connect to other cities within the same region, as you can in SC4 or SC2013; your only connections are to the outside world. However, region play in SC4 and SC2013 is largely necessary to get around the small city sizes, so in this respect the lack of region play in Skylines is no great loss.
- No terraforming options while playing the game. However, there is a map editor to create/modify maps before the game begins. Mods have been introduced that allow terraforming in-game, but their stability and other factors cannot be guaranteed at this point.
- No disasters. If you're looking to wreak havok upon your town with any number of natural or unnatural disasters, look elsewhere. With one exception, Skylines does not feature any form of disasters. The one notable exception to this is flooding by way of poor water management. Building dams in improper locations can cause water to backup or to change course completely, inundating previously dry lands. Over time, any buildings flooded with water will abandon, and flooding can cause issues with traffic routing, service disruptions and other problems.
- System requirements
|For Windows systems|
|For Mac systems|
- Conclusion and recommendation
The comparisons between Cities: Skylines and the SimCity series are inevitable. In most areas, I feel that Skylines is on par with or even outperforms SimCity 2013, and may even give the venerable SimCity 4 a run for its money in terms of enjoyability and depth of simulation. If you were excited at the prospect of SC2013 but disappointed with the outcome, I would strongly encourage you to try out Cities: Skylines. Even if you're devotedly clinging onto SC4, I'd pick up a copy. It is a lot of fun to play, and it's the city builder we've been waiting over a decade for.
To check out the game's page on Steam, click here. Feel free to leave any feedback and comments down below!