Why Sim City Should be Scared of Cities: Skylines

Cities Skylines

Cities: Skylines is quickly becoming a colossal competitor in the city building genre of gaming, rivalling the already huge following of SimCity. But this game has flare. In fact, it stands head and shoulders above SimCity and here’s why…

I stumbled upon Cities: Skylines when I saw a YouTube video of Sips, one of The Yogscast members, playing the new game during pre-release. At the time, I played SimCity and so when I found out that Cities actually lets you name areas I screamed with joy. For those of you who are unfamiliar with city builders these are the basics: your role in the game is mayor of a region, you plot roads, buildings, services, transport, leisure facilities etc. The aim of the game is to increase population whilst keeping your citizens happy. It sounds easy but it’s a lot harder than it looks the higher the population, those who already play these games would agree. I literally celebrated when I reached the “Capital City” milestone.

Although SimCity brought us some amazing landscapes, once a region was selected, we were then given a limited option of single grids which we where then confined to. However, Cities enables you to expand the area space each time you unlock milestones. You can build all the way along a shoreline, expand into islands and even create your own terrains.

When placing roads, Cities gives you a grid of how far your zones can expand when upgrading, whereas previous city builders barely showed a grid aiding you to perfect straight roads. The creators of Cities have tried their best to alleviate traffic congestion by programming each simulated citizen to take the fastest route to work. However, traffic congestion will always be the city builder’s arch-nemesis and I look forward to seeing some more improvements during patches.

The attention to detail in this game is astounding. There’s an option to have left-side traffic. Chirper (the in-game version of twitter) keeps you up to date with all the thoughts and feelings from your services and citizens. The names of every district, building, car, citizen and even their pets are customizable. You can place policies (covering the whole city or just one region) to promote recycling, give your citizens free smoke detectors, enforce a pet ban and even legalise drugs for recreational use. One policy I would like to see within the game (coming from the UK) is the possibility to provide free healthcare. Some policies can increase income, like the “small business enthusiast” doubles the sales from low-density commercial buildings. But watch out, because the more policies you add the lower your overall income, someone has to be paying for those smoke detectors. It’s these small details that make each city, and every region more personal and unlike any others played in the game.

Another worthy mention is the amazing modding community. In game, it is possible to create and build any building or prop you desire: the Eiffel Tower, a huge statue of Iron Man and simple upgrades on already existing buildings (such as the “better crematorium”) make this game even more personal, as well as a tree-brush tool, first person camera and an automatic bulldozer.

When buying the game, transaction to installation is easy as pie. The digital age has made sure to cut corners and no longer must we endure the laborious installation of five disks, and a three-hour update before playing a new game. (Coming from a previous World of Warcraft fan) The retail price is a mere £22.99 and can be installed on Windows, OS X and Linux.

The thirteen man team at Colossal Order are constantly updating the game, fixing bugs and have even added some mods into the games vanilla interface, welcoming the suggestions of its huge fan base. This small team of developers may have made this fantastic game but it’s the players that really make it.

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