Cities Skylines – More like, Chirpy Pie-Crimes! Am I Right? =P

I’m one of those people who are indifferent about city builder games.
I never really ‘got’ Simcity. I recently installed Simcity 4 and after about 10 minutes of reading dialogue boxes exclaimed “What!?” and uninstalled it. That being said, I love Immortal Cities: Children of the Nile and after watching Nerd³ play Cities Skylines, I really wanted to play it.
Forking out nigh on £20 for it on Steam was a steep ask and there seemed to be no demo available. This meant I was left hoping someone would put in into their Steam Library and I could use it through our Family Sharing network. Then it seemed the Gods (and Thero) looked down on me kindly when the game appeared in Thero’s library.
Thanks to Thero, here are my thoughts on the game.

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You know when a game is going to be good when the main menu is pleasing to the eye. Smooth lines, access to mods and nothing hidden behind too many screens. Pick your favourite looking (and most resourceful) land, and off you go!
Believe me when I say you are thrown into the deep end!

The first things you see are a motorway/highway and a small area in which your city can be built. But first, we must build roads! Without roads, your city cannot thrive. You can’t set zones, you can’t build service buildings and you can’t get people moving around.

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To the road section we go, where we can only choose from a few options at this early stage. Like any good city builder/sim game, more expensive (and therefore better) options are locked off until certain milestones are reached. We lay the roads and then we zone. Residential zones, commercial zones and industrial zones are all needed to get a city going.
Residences give people places to live, commercial provides all the retail therapy and employment opportunities that your citizens need, whilst industry creates goods for export and for use in the commercial industry, as well as further job opportunities.

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All of these zones need other services to survive – power and water are the main ones but as you grow into your mayorship you’ll learn how to provide rubbish/garbage collection, fire, police and medical services as well as means to educate your citizens.
Each of these have a certain area they can provide for, usually indicated by blue circles and roads turning green. Houses and other buildings that have their every whim provided for are happy houses and go on to have happy, fulfilled lives. Unhappy houses eventually become abandoned and start making others unhappy.
As mayor you can monitor various levels of happiness and see how well served your city is. Panels to the right of the screen give you insight into whether you are providing enough power to the city, how polluted areas are, all the way down to managing traffic jams and congestion.

If info panels aren’t your thing, your citizens will quickly complain if things aren’t to their liking. Little thought bubbles will pop up above buildings if there’s a problem that needs fixing, although trying to work out which building the bubble belongs to can be difficult unless you zoom right in. Since you can’t use mods if you want to get the Steam achievements (and who doesn’t right?), playing it the proper way means there’s no first person mode or minor tweaks to improve the game. Without mods, the game can be quite tricky to get going.

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Expand as the game wants you to and you will soon have no money, too many people and too many problems. The city will boom and then die. However, I found ignoring the prompts and expanding slowly, adding new services not when prompted but when they are desperately needed was a slightly more manageable way of building the city of my dreams.

Cities comes with it’s own social media system, of sorts, dubbed Twitter Chirper; a rather chubby little bird sitting at the top of the screen making dinging noises when the citizens of your city chirp messages.
Most of the time you can ignore these messages, since a large portion of them are inane chatter from your residents or visitors; people saying they enjoyed their holiday, people complaining about the traffic, etcetera. Sometimes you get funny messages, but largely you can use it to keep an eye on how services are running without delving into the information panels.
If there’s problems with the water network, the bird will chirp. Sudden spate of burglaries? The bird will know. Aside from this small aid, there is little substance to Chirper, and it can be quite annoying if you’re playing for long periods of time; just like Twitter! *Ba-dum Tssss*

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As much as I like Cities, I struggled to enjoy it over long periods of time. Even at it’s top game speed, things seem slow, and although they can spiral out of control with one sneeze (damn you city plague), there’s no real threat to your city or your mayorship. People are generally happy so long as you give them the stuff they want, and there isn’t anything by way of an ‘end goal’.
I love sandbox games; The Sims isn’t too far away from any computer, I love wandering in open-world RPGs and I enjoy the odd Minecraft session or two. However, I find Cities can get rather tedious rather quickly. I managed to leave it running while I showered and nothing had really happened; I’d like to see you do that in a SimCity game.

Once I get my city as far as it will grow naturally, I will have a play with some of the mods. Until then, give this a go if you’re fond of city builders and want something a bit less restrictive than SimCity, or just want to tell EA to shove it.

Khinjarsi out.

Khinjarsi took all of the images via screenshot and denies all responsibility in relation to city building stresses and city destroying plagues. 

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