Cities Skylines: Addictive. Shades of SimCity 2013

At the moment, I still really like Skylines. I have to think… I really liked SimCity 2013 for the first week or so too, though. After that time, its flaws starting to get pretty glaring:

  • Very simple. Practically impossible to fail.
  • Traffic AI leads to huge jams where you wouldn’t expect it.

The traffic situation, in particular, was a real Achilles’ heel. The agent-based simulation required good road connections or the whole city ground to a halt – fire engines couldn’t get to fires, so buildings would burn down, and ambulances couldn’t get to houses so people would die… and eventually the traffic would clear up simply because workplaces would shut down from lack of workers.

Oh simcity -_-

Cities Skylines has these same problems.

This happened in Cities: Skylines. The joys of traffic management.

Although… SimCity did have several other fundamental problems that Skylines does NOT have:

  • Tiny maps sizes.
  • …that could have been offset by the commuting / multiplayer system, but design decisions there totally broke it too, so it never worked as it should have.
  • Limited road options.
  • Freight – Commerce – Shopping cycle completely disabled because they couldn’t get it to work.
  • Always online fiasco.
  • Multiplayer mechanics (15 minute “sync cycles.”)

You just cannot accuse Skylines of having small maps. A single Skylines map is easily 6+ SimCity maps. They’re more akin to 6 SimCity 4 regions… all on the same map. It’s damn magic.

Their freight system – somewhat different to SimCities, but nonetheless similar – is there in all its glory. You are even given several tips and tools to try and keep the industrial freight from clogging up your commuter traffic, and several options for importing and exporting freight that your industry creates and commerce craves.

Speaking of clogging up commuter traffic, you have many different types of roads to choose from: Dirt service roads, two-way roads, one-way roads, all from 2 to 6 lanes and then highways and ramps on top of that. So, even though the traffic can be screwy, at least you’re given a bunch of tools to deal with their quirks. It’s not really enough, of course… I still spend the vast majority of my time analyzing why a particular intersection is clogged up, but I find it enjoyable.

I always felt SimCity had real potential. If commuting between cities was fixed, the servers stabilized, traffic AI improved enough that freight could be turned back on (I realise a cut-back version of it was turned on at one point) then it would have been a fun little game. After all the problems, though, EA/Maxis abandoned it after 2 lack-luster patches.

I feel the same way about Cities Skylines. It has REAL potential right now, but there are problems that pull it up short of being a really engaging city builder. For instance … I’ve not touched the tax rates at all, and I’m just rolling in the cash. In fact, I haven’t looked at my cash reserves for probably the last 10 hours. It’s just not a feature. This then ties into city / suburb / district policies you can set: smoke alarms, big business breaks, small business breaks, high-rise limitations, etc. Basically none of which I’ve bothered to touch because… I just don’t need to. It’s like being a mayor is a license to print money.

A HUGE advantage Cities has over SimCity though: It’s published by Paradox. A publisher that is famous for releasing games that are in need of polishing, and polishing them well. All their Europa games, and Hearts of Iron games, and yes, Cities in Motion, got this treatment.

Secondly, Cities Skylines has full modding support that the community is making full use of. Already the Steam Workshop is getting flooded with mods (mostly artwork, but several gameplay changes, such as a traffic inspection tool and an auto-bulldozer) so with some luck we can have balance overhauls to really make this baby shine.

Even with it’s flaws, I’m still incredibly addicted to it. I just expect that to wear off within the week (I’ll need to give a second city a go to put my new traffic-management skills to the test from the ground up) but after that? I think I’ll need to wait for some mods to mature there.

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As Though A Million Gamers Cried Out At Once…

The EAmpire Strikes Back?

So Disney shut down LucasArts and has now given all the Star Wars video games to EA.

I am cautiously optimistic. EA knows how to make some AAA games. Yes, Assassin’s Creed got worse with each iteration. Yes, Battlefield is pretty bad for the microtransactions. Yes, SimCity was… flawed.

But you know what? SWTOR is not half bad. Battlefield is still a great game and SimCity, if it irons out its flaws, could be the best entry to the SimCity franchise ever. (Though I am getting less convinced as time goes by that they’ll succeed in crushing all those flaws.)

No, my biggest concern is Origin. Let me be as diplomatic as possible here: EA, put your games on Steam or die in a fire. It’s that simple.

Having said all that, with a new Star Wars IP, and a company that knows how to squeeze gamers ahem, make a profit, er… release AAA quality games on time, perhaps they’ll see fit to smash out some titles that really need to be made.

1313 had quite a lot of hype behind it and who doesn’t want to be a Boba Fett knock off? They should put that one back in to bake a bit longer.

Battlefront by DICE is a no-brainer.

But do you know what they NEED to do?

X-WING VERSUS TIE FIGHTER!

Compatible with the Oculus Rift, naturally.