Cities: Skylines first appeared on PC via Steam in 2015, developed by Colossal Order – and what a Colossal of a game this is.
First thing you need to know is that this is the exact same game as the PC version, nothing is stripped down. The only thing they’ve changed is the control scheme and what a hefty feat Tantalus Media had been entrusted with, porting it over to Xbox One. Remarkably, Cities plays well with the Xbox controller, but it still isn’t a mouse and keyboard, which these types of games are primarily designed for.
The idea of Cities: Skylines is simple: Build your city using roads, buildings and your imagination, to bring citizens to it; watch it thrive whilst maintaining your city’s upkeep. Sounds simple doesn’t it, but let me assure you that the execution is far more complex than a game such as SimCity. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, it just involves you quite heavily and goes into more depth than you would normally see in Tycoon-type games.You begin building your city by building roads. Without roads, you can’t bring citizens to your city. Once some roads have been built, you can start ‘zoning’ your city using said roads. Zoning is basically your template for placing your buildings upon, as most buildings require to be built beside a road. Now that you have an idea of your road system, you can build a power plant. Without a power plant, there will be no electricity for your buildings to run upon. But placing a power plant isn’t just as simple as “Ahhh, I’ll just plop this right down here and go from there”. No, you have to carefully think and strategize your placement of, not only the power plant, but pretty much all of the buildings in the game. If you stick your power plant too close to a residential area, your citizens will slowly begin to get sick, and eventually die. You don’t want this to happen. When you place down your power plant, you will see a radius of how far the pollution will go which gives you an idea of where best to place it. The same goes for the water supply. You need to build your water pumps and a sewage draining system, otherwise your citizens will get sick from contaminated water and they will eventually, yep – you guessed it, die.
Again, this might seem like it’s relatively simple – which it is, but to the average gamer, it may seem overwhelming, especially when it comes down to building your power lines and water pipes. Well, how else would electricity and water travel through your city? Once you’ve built your power plant and water supply (amongst many other industrial buildings), you need to place down the power lines to where you want your electricity to go and also place those pipes down underground for the water to get around your city to keep people alive. This is all shown by an overlay atop of your city, much like that of a blueprint, so you can easily see where your power or water is travelling to. Once you’ve done all this, you’ve built your necessities to get your city pumping with citizens.
There is a campaign of sorts, shown by a Twitter-like feed scrolling across the top of your screen, that gives you pointers and hints as to what to do next, but this isn’t a game that holds your hand. In fact, straight from the get-go, you have the option of choosing the landscape where you will start building your city, which determines the difficulty level, and then you can give your city a name. If needed, you can opt for unlimited money and access to everything in the game almost immediately, but achievements will be unobtainable should you choose this route. You’ll be giving a couple of pop up instructions on controls and you’re pretty much left to your own devices. Thankfully there is an inspector option which allows you to scroll your cursor across any buildings, roads or your menu to give you more in-depth information about it. You’ll find yourself doing this an awful lot as there is that much to remember, chances are you’re going to keep forgetting other stuff.
This is not a title to spend an hour here or there on. This game will reward you for the amount of time and effort you put into this. It takes a long time to learn everything there is to Cities: Skylines, and it will take you almost twice as long to get to grips with all the mechanics and what each thing does. For instance with roads, you can choose how wide to have them, which will determine the amount of traffic you’ll get flowing through your city, however you can have straight roads, curved roads, roads with roundabouts, bridges, and also raise or lower the height of roads. So there are a lot of variables to take into consideration if you want to build an awesome city. But everything you do build costs money. You don’t get anything for free in this game.
What seems to be the most stressful part of managing and maintaining your city is the amount of funds you have. Providing you haven’t gone with the unlimited money route, you only have a small amount of money to begin with. It’s far too easy to build those roads and plant some buildings only to see yourself in the red and you’ve only just started your game. Thankfully, there are loans available to you, and like all good loans, comes interest that you must pay back during an allotted time, all done automatically, mind you. To help ease you with your finances, there is a budget planner and you can also set the amount of taxes you will receive from various establishments and sectors.
Having said all that, this title seems to have made a bold move jumping onto console, especially with Project Scorpio not far off. Other PC-Only titles may take note from Cities and take the leap themselves. Both Colossal Order and Tanatalus Games have done an excellent job in porting Cities over to Xbox, keeping everything in tact as to what makes this game so great. Bundling with just one of the expansions from the PC iteration, with the rest of the expansions planned for the near future, this title will surely make a citizen out of you.
Cities: Skylines is out now on Xbox One and is available to buy from Amazon, priced at £29.99.
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A complex but rewarding game that challenges you as a gamer and as a financial controller. Plenty of tools and items for you to tinker with and trial and error scenarios prove that this game takes the crown from others like this.