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Cities: Skylines (Video Game Review)

Cities: Skylines is a new city building simulation game from Paradox Interactive that takes all of the best parts of SimCity and removes most of the annoying features that hindered the EA release. With Cities: Skylines, players have almost no limitation on what they can create. Cities in the game can grow to incredible population totals and sizes to eight times the amount seen in SimCity, while Steam Workshop support has allowed the community to create all sorts of customized content for the game made available free of charge to owners of Cities: Skylines. Cities: Skylines is one of the best city simulation games ever, and fans of the genre will definitely want to pick up a copy, as it blows all of its current competition out of the water.

One great thing about Cities: Skylines is its approachability. The game is simple enough for beginners to the city building and management genre to pick up and enjoy. Players will have access to plenty of tools that makes laying roads and zoning for industrial, commercial and residential a breeze. The game includes a tutorial that explains some of the more intricate parts of the game fairly well, and the title's difficulty setting won't have many players losing complete control of their city unless catastrophic mistakes are made in city planning.

After spending some time building a new city, more options become available to players to expand their city. New buildings are only part of the unlocks available to players in Cities: Skylines; up to eight expansions are available, and players will need to learn to adapt to a growing population to keep traffic, garbage, sewage and other important items regulated within their city. The additional options add a layer of depth to the game that affords players some time to grow accustomed to the game's basics before throwing more complex issues at the would be city planner. Managing a growing population and expanding city can feel nearly overwhelming at times, but successfully taking care of every citizens' needs is a rewarding feeling that makes the game a truly addictive experience.

Cities: Skylines presents worlds that feel alive. Players will spend most of their time in the game zoomed out to manage building and road construction, but the game allows players to take the view in close and follow citizens about their normal day. This cool feature helps players see their city as more than just a group of buildings, and the game expands on the idea of keeping citizens happy with an in-game mock up of Twitter. The social app sends messages and updates to the player that discusses what needs to be improved upon in the city, and a few jokes are thrown too. The pop-ups are activated automatically and can be bothersome when making delicate improvements to a city, but it isn't something that will keep players from having fun with the title.

Probably the most glaring issue with Cities: Skylines is discovering what actions need to be taken to correct a given problem. The solution to any given problem may not be as simple to solve as players would think, and sometimes looking online for help feels like the only way to find a way to resolve certain issues. For example, the game may inform the player that trash is piling up and is causing citizens to become disgruntled and sick. The obvious solution would be to build additional dumps, but the real problem may be heavy traffic around an already built dump that could be prevented by building an additional road. The game doesn't always make such solutions clear, and it becomes frustrating to halt the progression of a city for such trivial issues.

One other issue many players will have with Cities: Skylines is the lack of any real disasters. Most city building games include dynamic events including earthquakes, floods and the like for players to always be prepared for, but the worst epidemics seen in Cities: Skylines are always caused by the mistakes of the player. Once players have spent a decent amount of time in Cities: Skylines, there won't be anything new to see, and that includes special events or even customized buildings that would make certain areas of a city feel more unique.

Even without a lot of building diversity, Cities: Skylines manages to look really nice. The buildings that are available to construct in the game have enough details to make cities look very impressive in the hands of a skilled player. The camera can be zoomed in to see the game's citizens, but smaller details of buildings also become more easily visible with the same camera controls. Additionally, the game has easy to use controls and tools for creating cities, while a soundtrack with over a dozen unique themes helps keep the game entertaining for multiple hours in a single session.

Cities: Skylines compares very favorably with other games in the city building and management genre. The only real problems in the game come from features we wish the game had rather than actual presentation issues actually included in the game. The title is easily to pick up and play, but players will continue working to craft a city to perfection thanks to plenty of objectives and unlockables that constantly provide new challenges to players along the way. Cities: Skylines is an incredibly satisfying title that doesn't limit players to how cities are constructed to make the title one of the most entertaining sandboxes we've seen recently. Start building in Cities: Skylines out now on Steam.

Cities: Skylines is now available exclusively on Steam for PC, Mac and Linux and can be purchased for $29.99. For more information on the game, check out the official Cities: Skylines website.

Game Features:
  • Single Player
  • DRM Free City Building Simulation Gameplay
  • Create and Share Custom Mods with Steam Workshop
  • Steam Trading Card Support
  • Achievement Support

Game Information:
Developer: Colossal Order Ltd.
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Mac & Linux
Release Date: March 10, 2015

Score: 8.5 out of 10
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