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Well, here it is; after over a decade of waiting,us SimCity fans have finally got what we wanted.The next flagship game in the SimCity franchise,Cities: Skylines.At least it should be if you ask me, becauseSkyines sets out to be everything SimCity 5 should have beenand Im still in denial that that game ever happened.Just to clear up any confusion, this is not a Cities Skyline Game,and this also has nothing to do with the Cities XL series by Focus Home Interactive.This is a completely different game from different people entirely.Skylines is a game for PC, Macintosh and Linux,published by Paradox Interactive and developed by Colossal Order,the Finland-based team that also made the Cities In Motion series.But while those were more business simulations geared towards managing mass transit systems,Skylines is a proper old-school city builder in the vein of SimCity.As a SimCity player since the 1989 original,I was chomping at the bit to get my hands on this thing.Paradox sent me an early review copy that Ive spent about40 hours on so far.Does it succeed in its goal of topping SimCity?Lets find out.Cities: Skylines begins with the main menu, and get this:theres no requirement to sign in to a serverin Antarctica to play.In fact, theres no multiplayer at all,and that is fine by me.Starting a new game prompts you with nine pre-made maps to choose frombased on different environmental themes, resource allocations and outside connections.Name your city and choose what side of the roadtraffic should drive onand its time to get this zoning party started.As is tradition, you start with a blank plot of landand a set of tools at your disposal.Generally the goal is to build a city,grow it as big as you like,and make sure that it doesnt die.You have a single highway connection to start out with,which acts as the first of many entrances to your city.Use the road tools to draw some roads,and youll see that youre supplied with groups of tilesextending from either side of them.These tiles can be filled with three types of zones,residential, commercial and industrial,which will become homes, shops and factories.Although more of them will come into play later on, likehigh density residential and commercial zones,as well as office zones,the central system of RCI demand is very much the core here.The more demand for a zone you have,the more people will move in to fill those zonesso youll want to balance their placement with the other needs of the city,like power.And youve got the standard assortment of coal, oil, wind,solar, hydro and nuclear power plants that unlock at different points in the game.Water is also needed, which you source by placing water pumpsand towers as well as water pipes that must be laid underneath the city.Sewage is the third main need to fulfill,which at first is just a big set of pipesthat vomit pollution into your water supplybut later on can be replaced with proper water treatment facilities.And much like newspapers in games past,you get a constant information update from this Twitter-like app called Chirper ,which was useful for about five minutes before I turned the thing off.This is sounding mighty familiar, if youve played practically any SimCity game since 1993,and thats definitely on purpose.Even the very aesthetic of the game borrows heavily from games past,notably SimCity 5s tilt-shift effect.
- OS: Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1 (64-bit)
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo, 3.0GHz or AMD Athlon 64 X2 6400+, 3.2GHz
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: nVIDIA GeForce GTX 260, 512 MB or ATI Radeon HD 5670, 512 MB (Does not support Intel Integrated Graphics Cards)
- DirectX: Version 9.0c
- Storage: 4 GB available space
Skylines unashamedly makes use of a SimCity-esque look and feelto everything from the designs of the buildings to the color scheme of the infographics.In fact, this is about as shameless a clone as you can imagine, but you know what?Calling it a SimCity clone is doing Skylines a huge disservice because, unlike that game,Skylines truly is a game thats greater than the sum of its partswhereas SimCity 5 an Cities XL for instance were the polar opposite.Everything here feels like its included for your enjoymentrather than just to conform to a designed-by-committee idea of what a city builder should be.For one thing, youre not limited to your initial map size.That starting plot of land is two square kilometersbut once you start reaching its borders, you have the option to buy more,up to 36 square kilometers worth.You have a gloriously huge plot of land to play with here,with every inch of it available for you to build on.And if you want even more land, you can mod the game to do soalthough it may cause some performance problems.But I have yet to feel constrained just playing Skylines as-is,since its more than enough space for me to really settle in and play for weeks on end.However, there is no regional play here, as you can only have one city in a savegame at onceand there are no neighboring cities to play as or do direct business deals with.So thats kind of a bummer, but thankfully theres another option:Districts are an addition to Skylines that am absolutely in love with.Basically, these are cities within a city,and you can simply paint them on the map the same way you can with zones.Once you create a district, you can name it anything you want,pass unique laws and ordinances there,and apply specializations.Specializations are the games way of handling natural resourceslike mineral deposits, crude oil, forestry, and farming.Theres no need for giant ploppable buildings to drill for oil.All you have to do is place a district and change its specializationand any industrial zones within that space will convert over to utilizing your chosen resource.And each new plot of land that you buy will contain its own selection of new resourcesso you can easily have a town that relies on oiland another on forestry, and another on gemstones,all working together for the greater good of your citys bank vault.Although I would love even more options for these districts, personally.You can already do things like provide free public transit,install smoke detectors, encourage recycling, ban pets,or even legalize recreational drug use, so thats all good.But let me REALLY micromanage the crap out of things [chuckles]like carpooling incentives and mandatory dimmer switches and banning grape jelly!I could really get into this.Speaking of banning things,you can also do things like make it so a district doesnt allow trucks to pass throughwhich is not only good for reducing noise pollution,but is also good for minimizing traffic problems,or, more likely, creating new ones, since traffic here is one of the single biggest challenges of the game.
Being from the creators of Cities In Motion, that is probably to be expected,but thankfully its not nearly as overwhelming as it was in that game.Youre not going to be setting individual bus schedules or ticket fares or anything like thatbut it does make a ton of good moves in how it handles its traffic modeland Id say its probably one of the best agent-based systems I have seen.Everything you see can be followed, tracked and even named,so its easy to see your traffic problem areas just by looking at a quick glance.Upgrading roads is also a breeze compared to other games I have played,and there are a slew of interesting tools at your disposalfor creating everything from roundabouts to cloverleaf intersectionsto raised highways with sound barriers.But there is a suspicious lack of any real fine details to check off,like being able to create your own lanes for each road type,or disable traffic lights on roundabouts.In fact, the transit may be downright underwhelming for some,since you cant even see a list of individual bus or train routes.Not to mention naming things is basically pointless,since theres no way to track them after you lose line-of-sight.Basically, its a little easy to feel left out of the loop when it comes to information,and thats one of my chief complaints about the game.And this doesnt just apply to traffic, but to things like zone demand,abandoned buildings and city services.All of these work together in a symbiotic system of controlled chaos.But without the proper tools to manage it,its easy to feel burdened by the simplest thingsafter your city reaches a certain size.And once I pass 50,000 citizens or so,my city went through some major growing pains.And part of this was caused by my own negligence and naivety,but most of the time I felt it was because I wasnt told what was going on,and had to really break everything down via trial and error.For instance, your city not only has healthcare but death care,so hospitals are just as important as cemeteries and crematoriums,which are constantly sending out hearses to pick up the dead.Thats all well and good, but the thing is,if a single person dies and theyre not hauled off in time,then the entire building they were in is abandoned and must be demolished.Seriously.It could be a 100-story skyscraper,but if a person on Floor 42 dies of old age,then everyone moves out, so you have to tear down the entire building.So youd better have decently optimized traffic flowor basically everything in your city is going to fail.Heres an example of the domino effect that really quickly takes place,where you have a single person that dies,but the hearse cant reach them in time, so the building is abandoned.Then the building catches fire because its an increased fire hazard,but the firemen cant get there because theyre caught in traffic with the hearses.Then the building burns down and criminals start moving inbecause the land value decreased,and then you have got more police cars on the road,which only adds to the initial traffic problems you had in the first place.Its a vicious cycle that gets out of control fastif youre not keeping an insanely close eye on things,and I would prefer to see some of this information displayed more clearly.Being able to see a service buildings area of effect and vehicle routes would be great,as would an indicator of WHY a building was abandoned,because abandonment is a red flag for all sorts of things,not just dead bodies.At the same time though, once I started to figure these systems out,the challenge in fixing them is hugely rewarding.Games like Cities XL and SimCIty 5 were entirely too easy,and if you screwed those cities up, that was a real feat of ineptitude.
Here, a doomed city can rise from something as simple asbuilding a couple of intersections instead of a multi-lane traffic circle,and thats kind of awesome.But while were on the subject of small gripes,why cant I edit the terrain during gameplay?On most maps, its no problem, since you want flat land,but on those with geographical challenges,even just some basic terrain-smoothing tools would be great.As would a way to place trees using a brush tool,since placing them individually is super tiresome.Also, why is there no day-night cycle?You do get some neat features to adjust the color palette of the game,but it dont be nice to see my city at night just for an occasional change of scenery.But another nice thing is that if you tire of the pre-fab maps, you can try the built-in map editor.This immediately made me realize just how much I missed being able to edit the terrain in SimCity 5.These tools are intuitive and powerful, just as they should be,letting you create anything you will find in the pre-made mapsand play freely with the games dynamic water simulation.Though I do wish you could use some of these tools while you are building cities,as you can only do this externally before you start playing.Theres also an asset editorwhich reminds me of the old SimCity 2000 Urban Renewal Kit.Here, you can edit existing buildings, roads and objects,or you can import and create your own using external 3D models.And this all ties in with the Steam Workshop feature of the gamewhich allows you to share and download mods and custom content.They have made it so that just about every aspect of the game can be modded.There are even some included mods from the developerswhich act as cheats and difficulty settingsin lieu of more traditional menu options.Mmm… yeah. Let me just say it:This is the game that I have been craving since SimCity 4.Even with my complaints, since really they are just drops in a sea of truly satisfying gameplay.This is the kind of game that I can play for so many hours at a time, that when I leave,I start seeing zone layouts on my ceilingand traffic patterns in my cereal.Just give me a pot of coffee and watch me while awaydozens of hours creating the perfect balance of land value,city services and mass transit systems, and be completely content.Its blissful, stressful, and compelling on a level that few games ever achieve for me anymore.There are so many details that I truly dig,like the way you can paint zones with different brushes,the sweeping orchestral soundtrack,the guidelines that appear when placing roads,the fact you can flood your city if you dam a river improperly,the way each zone has buildings that fit into any plot shape,and on and on.And it runs pretty great, too,even when surpassing 100,000 citizens, it still played solidlywith minimal frame rate issues on both my desktop and laptop.Colossal Order has pulled off a colossal order, indeed.They made a better SimCity than Maxis could.
And all this with a comparatively small budget,a team of twenty-something people and the Unity engine.Just… wow!Cities: Skylines Mods is a total slap in the face to SimCity 5,and, man, is it a great thing to behold!And finally, the whole game costs $29.99.You heard me. You get twice the game at half the price.Folks, this is what I like to call “doing it right.They could have charged double and I still would recommend it,but for 30 bucks, are you serious?This is a top-notch game at a bargain-launch priceand it makes me want to cry tears of joy.If you have longed for another great city builder like I have,or simply want to try one out for the first time,I dont hesitate at all in saying Cities: Skylines Mods is a superb choice.[moody piano music plays]And if you found this review useful or enjoyable, or perhaps even both,then you might like some of my others.I have covered Cities XXL and SimCity and a bunch of other things.Those are linked to right here, as well as in the description, so check those out if you dont like.And you can also check out my channel for videos on a whole bunch of other things,as well as new videos coming every Monday and Friday,so subscribing is an option.As is following and interacting with me on Twitter and Facebook for other things throughout the week,as well as Patreon, which helps the show continue and be more awesome over time.And as always, thank you very much for watching.