Cities: Skylines is a city construction simulator from Paradox Interactive. A lot of people have been longing for a decent city construction simulator, after being left disappointed by the latest SimCity. The screenshots look great but is the gameplay up to scratch?
You start off with an area of land, a road in and a road out. The first thing you’ll probably do is build some roads and define some zones. Zones can be residential, commercial, industrial or office. Once placed, buildings will start to rise in the zones for people to live and work in. Buildings will need power, water and sewage hooked up. As you expand the city, you continually level-up and gain access to new buildings such as police stations, fire stations, medical centres, hospitals, graveyards, waste storage, parks, schools, playgrounds, different roads, monuments, metro system, bus stations, etc. After a while you will also be able to purchase more land adjacent to your existing areas.
One major element of the game is traffic management. As soon as you fill up about a quarter of the area you’ll start noticing traffic jams which you’ll need to sort out. Road placement and upgrade is awkward and in need of improvement. Sometimes I could place roads through zones and other times the game wouldn’t let me. A few times it seemed bugged and refused to let me place roads on flat terrain due to non-existent slopes. As you continue to increase the size of the city you have to deal with more traffic but also unlock new roads from leveling up. This leads to a persistent cycle of road upgrades and redesign. I liked the educational side of trying to build decent transport infrastructure, it made me appreciate why people do it as a career.
I really enjoyed watching my city expand and citizens go about their business. Citizens will catch buses, Undertakers will place the dead into Hursts and Firemen will put out fires.
Citizens will communicate with you via an in-game social media client called Chirper (Twitter). The icon sits smack bang in the top middle of the screen and repeats the same messages. Unlike in real life, they will repeatedly post positive things about your city, so don’t think you’re getting out of the spam by making citizens happy!
I’d describe the game as unpolished. There is a lot of room for improvement, from the edge scrolling to the way you build and upgrade roads.
The audio is pretty annoying, the sounds are different depending on how zoomed in or zoomed out the camera is as you’d expect but the volume is excessively loud at either extreme. Also, when you zoom out you get this incredibly annoying static noise which is supposed to be wind but sounds more like the fans of an overheating computer. The graphics are great but I think the game overuses depth of field by default so I recommend you turn it down (it’s the tilt shift option).
The game supports user created content such as vehicles and buildings via the Steam Workshop. A map editor is provided so you can create your own maps. I’ve also spotted some gameplay modifying mods (I was searching for a way to disable Chirper).
Despite some flaws and need for more polish the game is good, all the elements of a city construction simulator are there. If you’ve been longing for a city construction simulator, then this is the best we’ve had in a long time.