Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Raucous Reviews: Cities: Skylines

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Cities: Skylines has been billed as the SimCity for people who didn't like SimCity, and it certainly lives up to the hype.

The first thing about Cities: Skylines that hits you is just how hard it really is: I had to try multiple times just to gather enough residents for my town so I could reach the next Milestone (More on that later). It's just the right level of challenging: you'll find building a city fun, although it'll be hard to balance different zones and industries, as well as trying to make your city profitable enough so you can expand it.

The aim of the game is to create a profitable city where everyone is happy (Which is incredibly hard to do) and to keep meeting Milestones until your city is perfect, the first being to hit a certain amount of residents of the town, which is way harder than it sounds. You've got to balance residential, commercial and industrial zones, keep the city powered, keep water flowing and work the sewage system, all the while making sure that the city is profitable. It's a huge task, but it feels so rewarding when you reach the next Milestone and unlock new buildings and services to balance.

One of the most interesting things about Cities: Skylines is how you don't actually build the buildings indvidually, you zone an area to be a certain type, and the buildings build themselves. It's a nice, easy way to build the city, especially since you'll be focusing on other areas that require more attention.

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Of course, to right the problems in your city, you'll need to know what they are first, and there are two ways to do that: one is by checking the your city's social network and seeing what your citizens are ranting about and make them happier. As well as aired grievances and congratulations, you'll also find the odd conspiracy theorist, who'll give you a quick laugh and remind you how light-hearted the game is. The other is a toolbar that shows up a variety of variables and data of your town, from happiness to pollution to wind speed to any other thing that can be measured. Not only is it helpful, but the minimalist art-style it creates also looks beautiful and stylish. 

Speaking of visuals, the graphics are pretty nice. They're clear-cut and are usually tmade of block-colours, those colours being vibrant and bright, as is the tone of the game. My mid-range PC could run it with most settings on Medium, though there isn't any graphical presets; you'll have to change all of the settings (Of which there are plenty) to what your PC can handle. I didn't notice any screen-tearing or framerate issues, which is important when so much is on screen at a time.

There's also a cutesy, lovely-looking tilt-shift art style when you zoom in to your city, seeing all the little people and cars and listening to what's happening. Every citizen has their own name and personality, and every building and car has tons of info about them. It's a really deep and detailed game, and a that sums up Cities: Skylines perfectly.

Verdict: Cities: Skylines will welcome jilted SimCity-lovers, as well as anyone looking to get into city-building games. Simply put, it's a masterpiece.

Thanks to Paradox Interactive for the Steam review code!

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