Cities: Skylines early town

Cities: Skylines. The Sim City 5 We Deserved.

This game is astounding. Paradox pulled off what Maxis failed to do and they did so spectacularly. Naturally there will be plenty of comparisons to Sim City 5 out there but I will refrain from doing so directly unless I really need to in order to get a point across.

The game is launching with a map creation program so if you so wish rather than choosing from any of the starting maps you can either pick one from the community or make your own. I chose a default map.

The maps range in difficulty, resources and overall geography. Now you start with a plot of land that is approximately 2 square miles. Not very big but before you know it you can expand and take another two square miles. You will need this space too as likely within the first hour or two you will have filled up your first section. Especially if you try to get creative with the roads as I did. I didn’t go for overall functionality but rather just what I thought might be fun to design. I do love these games however I was never a great min-maxer at them. These map squares fill up rather quickly, I managed to fill almost an entire square in around two – three hours.

Filling up these squares you have the standard fare for this type of game: Commercial, Residential and Industrial as well as some higher volume variants and and office zone that you unlock as you reach later milestones and naturally there are handy bars telling you the demand for each so you know what you need to build. When you start the demand is for residential, however soon they want more jobs. Moving from that the industries will need a place to sell things and then there will be more demand for residential as more people will want to live in your town.

You are able to specialize your city, be it farming land or variations on industrial or what have you and this becomes more useful as you get more in depth into the game and start buying more land. When you start its best to just try to build up a balance of the first three zone types and then level up from there.

That’s right this game has a level up system. You unlock more for your city as you reach certain population limits. You start small with only a few roads and options and before long you unlock the ability to create by-laws for your city and take loans to prevent a huge wait between building. An interesting feature that teams well with the by-laws is the districts. You can create zones that cover certain areas that label them as certain districts and you can set certain by-laws for certain districts. This also helps with the specialization later on in the game but I will leave those for the reader to discover.

Unlike in Sim City 5 utilities do not just magically travel along roads. You build pipes along the city to get water to buildings, it has a certain range around the pipes you place, and power will travel either through power lines or through connected buildings. See each time a building is built through the being zoned properly or being placed down by you there is an “aura” around it for lack of a better term on the electricity info layer. So long as power is connected to one building in the chain it will power every building whose “aura” connects to one another.

Paradox has boasted that each citizen is simulated. They live in specific houses and have specific jobs and so far as I can tell (I followed one around for a day) this is entirely true. It is little details like this that just can draw me into loving a game. Also for those of us who take this genre the most seriously there are plenty of data layers to learn absolutely everything you need to know and help you totally optimize your city.

A word of advice, plan your roads carefully. Two things can easily go wrong. People having difficulty getting to work will prevent them from working somewhere and traffic jams can easily make your city fall apart in a chain reaction of people not getting to work and supplies not coming in for your industrial sections.

One more feature I will take about before discussing some of the negatives is the public transit system. This can help alleviate the traffic around your city a bit and you have two major options a bus system and a subway system. I found both to be rather fun since you don’t just place down the station and let it roam but you actually need to plan routes and design the system. You place bus stops down along the route you want them to take and can have several bus routes per one building depending on its funding and there is a similar rule for the subway system. Its all very “cities in motion” if that helps and I found it to be an interesting detail.

So what are some of the negatives? Well I have only found two that really stood out to me. I am certain others exist but these two are the ones that I noticed. Many buildings use the exact same model so much of your city will end up looking like the same place over and over. Also there is no quick undo button, at least not that I found. Sometimes I make a mistake on where I put a road for example and so my only option is to bulldoze it for a fraction of its original cost. I know this second one is entirely my fault for slipping up when I click sometimes but none the less I think a quick undo button would not go amiss.

Other than that I absolutely love the game. I would call it a must have for any fan of the genre. Though word of warning to those that don’t know Paradox very well, they tend to be a bit DLC crazy with some of their titles so I would expect at least a few to potentially crop up over the next couple of years. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing but some people get rather upset over DLC so I thought it best to inform the public.

Either way as it stands it is a perfectly functional fast paced city builder. Exactly the kick in the pants the genre has been needing since the lacklustre showings it has brought forth in recent years.

Cities: Skylines is available now on PC.

While not perfect it is just the shot in the arm the genre needed to show that it could still be relevant in the modern age.