City building games litter the PC and mobile scene but not so much on consoles. With Maxis releasing an updated version of the iconic SimCity, competition was fierce. It was an ultimate failure as it was struck with problem after problem, which gave Colossal Order and Paradox Interactive the green light to capitalise and release their own city builder, one that was a success and spawned ports on Xbox One and now PS4. Cities: Skylines was born, and with it, a growth of success from its initial 2015 release to its recent Xbox One iteration and now its PS4 version that plans to continue that success.
Cities: Skylines puts you as mayor who has the freedom to create a city with only your mind being its only boundary. Periodic tutorial messages teach you the basics each time you first choose an option from the specialised toolbar situated at the bottom of the screen. The first important task is to create and lay roads with only standard roads available. It’s extremely easy, with only a button press required. To populate these roads, next on the agenda is to place houses, shops and factories. You don’t place individual buildings as in most city builders, instead, you colour the sides of roads to a particular colour which represents zones: green for residential which builds houses, blue is commercial which erects shops and yellow is industrial which creates factories. They build automatically as time rolls on. You also have to create a water supply with pipes and electricity with wind farms and pylons. As your city gains more citizens, you gain milestones which unlock more zone types, buildings and services, such as bus or taxi routes. It’s a pleasure to just sit back and watch your city grow into a bustling utopia.
After building your city, it’s time to manage it. Every choice you make comes with its own set of issues that requires your attention. New builds require water and electricity, as well as waste access. Planting a sewage pipe on a lake or reservoir will eventually pollute it, making the water unfit to drink, and this makes citizens sick unless you create water towers to make fresh water. It’s a simple problem but one that is a constant problem that needs constant attention. Other problems need to be considered when choosing things such as policies and taxes, putting more money into buses will put more on the roads, but if your roads aren’t wide enough, this inevitably will cause traffic jams which have a knock-on effect, such as ambulances being unable to tend to ill citizens and fire trucks being unable to get to fires, all which prevent you from going too wild.
On PlayStation 4, the controls are brilliantly translated. The thumb sticks control the camera, and the cursor and shoulder buttons bring up each of the menus, and clicking in the left stick does up and slows down time. Not once did it feel out of place or frustrating, I could always see where I was placing things. There was a significant slowdown when zoomed into busy areas. The frame-rate takes a bit, but zoomed out, things run smoothly.
Visuals aren’t Cities: Skylines’ strong point. Buildings look generic up close with minimal textures, although billboards and scaffolding can be seen on the sides of shops, markets, factories hard at work, citizens can be seen walking around, cities get busy rather quickly. The PlayStation 4 version of Cities: Skylines, like the Xbox One version before it, comes with the After Dark add-on which included a day/night cycle. This is where Cities: Skylines’ visuals improve as viewing your city at night is a marvel. Street lamps light up roads and freeways, spot lights on a sports stadium, neon lit city centres and more make it a beauty to behold.
Cities: Skylines is the best and most accessible city builder available. The ease of creating your very own city, handling its policies, rules and regulations, planting key structures, dealing with infrastructure issues and considering the pros and cons of placing a certain building in a particular place make you feel in complete control. It brings with it all the stresses of a mayor, keeping your population happy, and keeping traffic flowing whilst making more attractions to tourists which, in turn, brings more income. Cities: Skylines is fantastic and takes the crown as best city builder out there.
Developer: Colossal Order
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: 15th August 2017