Welcome back to Video Games for Readers and Thinkers, where I explore strong story based or puzzle based games while getting back in touch with my inner gamer (it’s a win-win!) This week, I started playing Cities Skylines, by Colossal Order and Paradox Interactive. A couple of months ago, I was inspired by Banished to get back in touch with that kid in me who was obsessed with Sim City. Plus, a good friend of mine recommended it to me.
At first, I figured it would be pretty much the same as I remember Sim City being. And, at first, it was. You start off by building roads so that you can make commercial, residential, and industrial zones, all of which need power and water. I figured I’d be an expert at this! I’d use the same strategy as I would use when I was a kid. I’ll build my power plant, or in this case, a wind power generator, then I’d lay down my industrial stuff, then the commercial, and then the residential. Oh? What’s this? I actually have to lay pipes down for both water and sewage? Oh? I have to strategically place the sewage station down stream from the water pump station? That’s new and interesting. Oh, look! My city’s growing already!
4 hours later…
Everyone in my city hates me because traffic is a nightmare, houses are burning down, and crime is running rampant in the streets. Of course I was naïve to begin comparing Cities Skylines of 2016 to Sim City of 2000.
As far as I can tell, one of the skills I’m really going to have to master in this game is learning to manage my roads, and that includes developing effective public transportation. I’m pretty sure this is why buildings were burning and crime was running rampant because even though I had enough fire and police stations, it was pretty apparent the actual firefighters and police were having difficulty moving around the city.
Now, I didn’t get far enough to build a subway station (which I’m honestly a bit scared to have to tackle later on) but I did build a bus station. I was really impressed that the game even made it the player’s responsibility to create the bus stops and plan out the bus routes and bus lines. I made the error of just placing them randomly without really thinking the routes through, but this was a serious error in judgement as at one point I had about 7 buses piled up in traffic in the heart of my city. Of course, this totally makes sense. If you think about real life, a city is really only as good as its transportation and your ability to get around said city, and I’m speaking from experience here! Ahem, LA Traffic is the worst! I’ll probably have to start a new city, and this time, I’ll make it my goal to make better roads/freeway systems than LA.
While my first go at this game was a bit frustrating due to my naivety, I think it’s pretty obvious that I am officially hooked. I love how detailed this game is, not graphically (you can zoom in really close and see individual people!) but really how detailed and complex all of it is! The developers really did think of everything in this game. I mean, who thinks of a twitter feed as a way to hear your citizens’ thoughts? Overall, I’m super excited to find out what other challenges this game will present me aside from building effective roads, especially because when I look up pictures of other people’s cities online, it’s pretty clear that with some real dedication and practice, you can build some phenomenal cities. Check back in with me in two weeks to get my final impression, and to see if I really was able to build the epic city of my dreams!