BY KYLE VAN DEN HEUVEL
Colossal Order shows Maxis how it’s supposed to be done.
The great thing about the “SimCity” series of games is that they offer an engrossing gameplay experience without any of the violence, drama or conflict that most video games have. You really only have one objective: Do not let your city fall into ruin. Unfortunately, the newest “SimCity” game was less than stellar and left a sour taste in the mouths of fans of the franchise. There were also many copycats of the game like “Cities XL” and “Cities in Motion,” but none of them came close to the polish of “SimCity 4,” the franchise’s magnum opus. That is, until Colossal Order released their game “Cities: Skylines.”
“Cities: Skylines” plays almost identically to “SimCity” with its notions of RCI balance, zoning, wonders and area density. Those who are familiar with “SimCity” will be able to jump right in and feel right at home. What sets this game apart from “SimCity” is the massive scale this game focuses on and the decent balance between approachable and technical mechanics. Your cities can expand up to 36 square kilometers in size (for comparison, the city of De Pere is around 32 square kilometers, according to Google.) You will not be able to reach this size right from the start, though, as your city must first hit population “Milestones” which unlock perks like extra loans, access to more buildings and access to buying more land.
The only problem that I see with the game is that there are no real side modes like scenarios or anything of that sort. There are unlockable wonders that you need to fulfill certain requirements to access, so there are certain goals to aim for in terms of unlocking buildings. The problem with these buildings is that sometimes the unlock requirements seem counter-intuitive and require you to play poorly to unlock. For example, in order to unlock the unique “Court House” building, you need to have a crime rate of over 50% in your city for over five weeks, which would require intentional neglect as my city never experienced a crime rate over five percent.
Even if there are no side modes, the game is fun enough on its own that the lack of side modes or multiplayer can be forgiven. The game is a bit on the easy side, as I never had any real problems with debt or building management (although I like to think that my experience as an Economics major may help that.) The lack of natural disasters does not help the fact that running an efficient city is not very hard if you are not trying for any of the strange unlocks. However, even if the game is on the easy side, the fact that you can dramatically change the game with mods means that you will be hard pressed to be bored with this game. Someone has even begun a mod to add a multiplayer mode that allows you to walk around your city as a pedestrian in first person.
If you wanted a new “SimCity” game or ever wanted to try the series out, this might actually be the best way to try it. It is only available for PC, Mac and Linux but is available for a budget price of $30.