First of all, I must admit, I’m playing this game as I write this review. This is even after nearly 400 hours of game play, I’m still stuck to it.
As many of you know, Cities Skylines is city simulation game and is Paradox’s answer to SimCity. For many people, Cities Skylines is the ultimate ‘What could have been’ for EA’s 2013 SimCity. As a rare player of city simulations, I loved SimCity and often wondered, ‘What could be so much better with Cities Skylines?’, so I decided to give it a crack and this is what I found.
This game is brilliant. Beyond brilliant. I don’t know where to start with the brilliance. If you love city simulator games, this is the one for you.
The first major thing I noticed when I got into this game was the graphics and the amount of detail this game has within it. Paradox has simply blown me away with the aesthetics of this game. Everything from the look of traffic flowing through your streets or the burger billboards posted around the shopping zones have been modelled to perfection. The visuals of this game continue to amaze me and I often find myself just watching and exploring my cities like a tourist.
After playing SimCity, without playing Cities Skylines, I had one major problem with the game, the limited room you had to build your city. In Cities Skylines however, this is never a problem. The buying land feature is a much needed addition to city simulation games and Cities Skyline nails it on the head. The ability to buy more land becomes a reward for reaching milestones in your city’s population. As your population expands, so does the amount of land you have ownership over. I found the reward of buying more land became motivation behind wanting to expand your city. The downside however is that you are only able to take ownership of a total of 9 of the 25 blocks how land available in the original version of the game. However with the inclusion of mods, all 25 block can become available after reaching a certain population in the game.
With the inclusion of more space to work with, you are no longer stuck with just one big city, instead a more realistic build is now possible. During my time playing this game of have managed to construct multiple cities, suburbs, industrial areas and shopping zones all on the same map. Whilst SimCity had the ability to create multiple cities in the one region, nothing gives you a sense of achievement more than filling out every inch of a Cities Skylines map.
By far, the thing I absolutely love about Cities Skylines so much that I most probably will never be able to handle SimCity again, is one way roads. This is a little thing I know, but the inclusion of one way roads enables you to make your city something special. One way roads enables you to construct highways, place round-abouts in and around your city and gives you the ability to control the flow you traffic and give you more power when it comes to road layouts. While I must admit, mastering the use of one way roads is a challenge but if done, enables you to do so much more than you ever have been able to in a city simulator.
As you will find later in the piece, I have very little negatives for this game, and there is one good reason why, mods. Paradox have embraced the modding environment and enabled Cities Skylines to be completely and easily modified. Through the Stream Workshop, millions of mod have been created and posted, allowing you to do and change things as your heart desires. After first playing the game by itself, you often find yourself saying, “I wish there was a button for this”, or “I wish there was a way to do this”. Chances are there’s a mod that can allow you to do it. Personally one of my favourite mods is the traffic controller. This enabled you to change where traffic lights are in your city, the ability to place stop and give way signs, and allows you to change which direction lanes of traffic can go at intersections.
Mods don’t stop at gameplay features either. Cities Skylines has a creator tool in which you are able to create content such as maps, intersections, buildings, you can even create your own family SUV. Through the Steam Workshop, you are able to share your content and download others.
Currently there is only one expansion to Cities Skylines, that being After Night. While this expansion doesn’t bring much that a few extra placeable items and textures added to the game, it provides one of the most stunning features of all. The day/night cycle. SimCity had its own day/night cycle but due to the minimalistic cities it allows you the build, this feature is not fully enhanced. Cities Skylines completely embraces this feature. The aesthetics of the game has been created so perfect that the view and shine your cities give off at night is stunning. With lights, any dump of a city you may have will glow and resemble scenes straight from the movies.
With the inclusion of day/night cycles, multiple aspects of the game have been reworked. This includes the ability to adjust budgets for the different periods of the cycles and the amount of traffic flow during the night hours compared to the day.
This isn’t even half the positives this game presents. I must give honourable mentions to the inclusion of districts, policies, specialisations, unique buildings and the extremely large range of transport features.
As I’ve already said, there is very little bad to this game. Anything that I’ve found annoying whilst playing Cities Skylines I have often found a mod that more than fixed the problem. However there a couple of aspects of this game that do not have mods to fix them.
For most of the time, traffic looks stunning, for the other amount of time, traffic is bumper to bumper and using just one of many lanes provided. I not sure what the problem is, but trying the get the perfect flow of traffic is never possible. I assume there is something in the traffic simulation which makes all traffic take the fastest route possible to their destination, however this route is so specific that this takes into account the choice of which lane the car should be in. I often find when I have two or more lanes heading or turning a certain direction, the traffic tends to favour one lane more than any other. In a realistic world, all lanes would be used, allowing the traffic to spread out and be more efficient. This by far is my number one complaint with the game. The flip side however is that you are often drawn into investing hours into this game trying to simply make traffic run smoothly. Although annoying, trying to perfect your traffic flow is an art in itself.
Closely following the flow of traffic, garbage is a problem I always find my cities suffer from. I understand why their is garbage in city simulation games, however Cities Skylines takes garbage to a whole new level. The amount of garbage is near ridiculous and trying to keep up with the demand costs my cities a large financial sum. My go to solution that I have learned to enforce in my cities is the creation of a garbage hub where I place as many garbage disposal units possible in an area. More times than not this is only mildly successful.
Cities Skylines is by far one of the most brilliant games possible. Aside from a few issues hear and there, Paradox has created the best city simulation game we have seen yet. In years to come I see myself continuing to develop new cities time and time again. I am very much looking forward to seeing the future of Cities Skylines and what Paradox is able to expand onto this game with.
Cities Skylines – 9.5/10