‘Cities: Skylines’ Review

Paradox Interactive and Colossal Order have an unexpected hit on their hands, with Cities: Skylines garnering over 250,000 sales in its first day on the market this week. The game was labelled as one of the best city-building experiences to date, and the debut trailer certainly made the game look gorgeous, massive and entertaining. Read on to find out whether Cities: Skylines delivers on all of its promises.

We questioned whether Cities: Skylines could succeed where SimCity ultimately failed, and the question is answered with a resounding yes. Where SimCity faltered in terms of map size, controversial always-online requirements and a lack of mod support, Cities: Skylines allows gamers to have a much larger map, no online requirement, and works with the Steam Workshop to allow players to create their own assets, visuals and mods within the game.

As soon as players enter the game, they’ll see an interface that will be familiar to all city simulator fans: roads, power lines, pipeworks, zoning types and specialized city buildings are immediately available to select. Though users can only place zoning 3 blocks wide along each road, as opposed to filling whole sections of area, it’s easy to adjust to the tighter spacing and design ethics this decision brings. As the population of a town grows, users will unlock new zoning types, city service buildings and unique structures – or, of course, they can just go full-on sandbox and enable the game’s own in-game money and unlock cheats, a handy tool for those just looking to create the most beautiful city they can.

Speaking of, this is the absolute highlight of Cities: Skylines – creating huge, gorgeous cities on a scope never before seen in a city builder. The game eclipses all other city builders in sheer land mass, allowing gamers to create a metropolis that looks about twenty times as large as SimCity ever did. Gamers can even download a modification to go beyond this limit, with the only functional downside being they might have some framerate issues.

Here, Colossal Order unabashedly borrows SimCity’s gorgeous-looking tilt-shift idea, and places it within the standard view mode for the game. Exploring cities is easy, and players will likely find themselves in awe watching commuters go about as firetrucks struggle with six lanes of traffic during a high-rise fire.

The game also adds new elements to mix, like one of my favorite new features that allows users to designate certain areas of the map into ‘Districts’ and subject them to special rules. This feature makes it easier for players to put more tax on a wealthy subdivision, pay to hand out smoke alarms and reduce the change of fires, or even designate that a certain industrial area ignore safety concerns to increase productivity. The Districts feature adds a unique element to areas of the city that might have been somewhat repetitive otherwise, and being able to label neighborhoods helps add to the personality of each city.

There’s also new city services which must be considered. All city simulators have healthcare, but Skylines introduces deathcare. Cities must have allocated graveyards, but those fill up, which prompts he use of crematoriums to service the city. The same goes for garbage collection, where landfill areas have limited space, but the pollution-pumping incinerators will help finally get rid of the garbage. For a price, mayors can use the district tool to enable a better focus on health or recycling, which help out and keep the game interesting with more areas to focus on and ensure the city has good coverage.

One of the only downsides to Cities: Skylines is that it ultimately fails to provide much of a challenge in just about anything. The hardest portion of the game is waiting for citizens to move in and keeping areas well patrolled in terms of city services like police, healthcare, deathcare, and fire control. Within about 9 or 10 hours of playing, we’d reached the end-game status with a city raking in millions of cash with low crime, high health and a happy populace. That said, the gameplay was consistently fun the entire time, and Cities: Skylines delivered an unexpectedly smooth and wonderful experience from start to finish.

The game also includes an Asset Editor, so players can start creating their own building designs and easily add them to their gameplay experience. The tools are relatively straightforward, and the Steam Workshop is already full of hundreds of pieces of user-made content. Custom maps can also be designed, so players can start planning their cities from the terrain up. From our own experience, topographically-extreme maps deliver the most fantastic, albeit challenging design experience. Though the gameplay itself features no online component, gamers likely won’t notice the absence of neighboring towns as they expand their own borders over and over.

In short, Cities: Skylines achieves everything we wanted in SimCity with ease. Coming in with the affordable price of $29.99, this is one game we fully recommend to any gamer looking to enjoy a city building game that not only allows them to generate gigantic metropolises, but design each element from the buildings themselves to the ground they’re built on. There’s currently no better game on the market when it comes to delivering the ultimate city building experience, and developer Colossal Order now seems aptly named, as their next game will have some big shoes to fill.

Cities: Skylines is available right now on PC, Mac and Linux. Game Rant was provided a PC code for this revie