Upon first launching Cities: Skylines you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re playing the latest Sim City game after all they are both city builder management games and contain similar development options. Though this is where the similarities end!
Even after an hours play time the superiority of this title already starts to show. Whilst providing the typical and expected zoning options (housing, commercial and industrial) Cities Skyline also allows for areas to be marked out into districts which can have their own custom edicts such as different tax rates, water consumption limitations, in-home smoke detectors provided free from the state which you the mayor would have to pay for etc. to name a few.
The traffic problems in Sim City have not been evident upon my play through of this game which is a huge relief and although at the start of Cities: Skylines you are allocated land the same size of Sim City’s plot allocation this can be expanded hugely in stages as you reach milestones. A huge relief then as this is shaping up to be the game I always wanted Sim City to be.
Reaching population milestones award you with the option to buy extra land adjacent to the plot you already own. Players are provided with multiple plots to choose from. New services, building types, edicts and financial options become available each time a milestone is met. In essence the more your city thrives and the population increases the more development options you will have. So the city is always improving.
It’s a truly addictive experience. Sim City annoyed me no-end due to its limitations and game breaking traffic system but Cities: Skylines is made by Colossal Order the developers of Cities in Motion a traffic sandbox building game. So they know a thing or two about creating well-structured transport systems in a game. The road options are varied with tunnels and bridges providing the user with the choice to avoid too many junctions when needing to traverse over a placed road. Thus allowing traffic to move freely without the need to pile up with traffic jams. One way systems can also be incorporated in to the road structure. Bus routes can be planned out and assigned. Rail, boat and planes are also unlockable as your city progresses.
Although the game starts with the option to zone land adjacent to roads with the default options of housing, industrial and commercial the zones can be removed and replaced when required. The progression system in this game allows for more complicated zones such as specific commercial buildings i.e offices and for housing, high density housing. Industrial types can be assigned via the district view. One example is placing industrial properties in a woodland area and then assigning them as a forestry district will provide the ideal industry to thrive in that area.
Building placement is particularly important in Cities: Skylines. The water intake pumping facility which provides fresh clean water to the city needs to be placed upstream on a river and the waste pump needs to displace the waste downstream away from the clean water pump otherwise the city will be drinking water from excrement and that would not go down well with residents. For the city to flourish water pipes must cover all the land currently in development along with electricity cables and roads.
Unlike Sim City there are no natural disaster options though my first city building in cities skyline didn’t end as I hoped. Everything was going well. The city was gradually thriving. I expanded the plot of land and built a suspension bridge to connect to my new area across the river. Bank loans were needed to help with the development costs. By the end of this session I learnt what NOT to do. Don’t expand too fast and make sure there’s enough services to appease the growing population. My downfall in the end was not enough health services. I had a medical clinic and a hospital but they weren’t coping with the growing demand. When placing the buildings the coverage area is shown in green. In hindsight I should’ve grown the city slowly to make sure the weekly profit can cope with the extra expenses of running extra services and then provide those services to the citizens. I had just one cemetery so the dying were left unattended. The whole city was in a health pandemic. The hospital was completely full and I didn’t have the funds to build another. Weekly profit was now severely in the red with the population also rapidly in decline. My once thriving city was now bankrupt. This made me love this game that much more. It’s not a simple build, build and build game. To get the most from this your city will need to be well thought out and don’t be afraid to upgrade the transport system.
Cities: Skylines is fully integrated with Steam Workshop to provide the community with game mods created by other players. This opens the game up to so many possibilities. Building types etc. can be changed. Note though that mods will disable achievements from that cities session. There is an asset editor for you to create your own content. The game does also provide users with god mode like options such as play with infinity money but again Steam Achievements will be disabled. So the option is there but it comes at a price.
Cities: Skylines is the complete city builder and the best by a long shot. The possibilities are endless and with a thriving modding community the game will never be void of content. This is a game that will only get better and better. A must buy for any city builder, management gamer. Avoid Sim City and buy Cities: Skylines!