Cities: Skylines – Review (PS4)
It's a really good game, guys. A really good game.
Until you’ve seen it, it’s impossible to understand the scale at which a game like Cities: Skylines exists. Even starting a new city in a small area seems like an insurmountable task. The complexity of the controls and decisions at your behest seem unlearnable.
But these things don’t mean the game isn’t a ton of fun.
Cities: Skylines does a tremendous job at easing you into the task of being the part-mayor, part-god of a small city that will soon explode into a booming metropolis. It’s a city builder and, much like many of it’s spiritual predecessors, it knows exactly how to make you second guess every action in not only the moment before you do it, but also an hour after. Decisions made about where to place a garbage dump in relation to an office complex may (and probably will) come back to haunt you in a matter of a few hours.
The attention to detail which is paid to nearly every part of the terrain around you is an excellent beginning to your quest. Contours of the land, natural water features, and pre-existing roads will play a large factor in your decision of where to place your very first set of roads, houses and industrial parks.
Each building that you come across looks similar to another on the map, but rarely will you ever find two of them together. Characters walk and drive around in intricate detail and it’s never a question in your mind that actual people could live (or hate living) in this little town you’ve made. If you look closely at flags flying, you may even see them waving around.
Transportation is a bit of a beast in Cities: Skylines. It’s a ton of fun figuring out how many roads you need and where they should go, but it gets more complicated than that quickly. You start out with only the simplest of road types, not to mention basic provisions in many other categories, which makes it very difficult to plan your city in any kind of cohesive way. Eventually you’ll likely want to incorporate overpasses and onramps into your road system but, again, this is difficult when an entire section of your city has already been built – unless you’re planning on doing some serious demolition.
Additionally, you’re only able to expand into a preset amount of land, making it nigh on impossible to separate the landfills and industrial sites from the suburban soccer moms and their homes. This becomes easier as the game invites you to expand your city’s footprint, but you always kind of feel like that first part of your city, the one you worked so hard to get started, is a bit of a red-headed stepchild. When you’ve just started to learn the game, it’s forgivable. By your third or fourth attempt at a city it becomes a bit irksome.
Still, there is so much to be thankful for when it comes to Cities: Skylines. The order of operations makes perfect sense and it’s evident that the developers have spent more than just a little bit of time with every city simulator in existence. The ability to be liked or disliked is a bit silly at times because it’s nearly impossible to get the city to hate you unless you are trying – it’s very forgiving. But the challenge of creating a space that all works together is still thought-provoking.
Members of our team played Cities: Skylines on the PC and put tons of hours over the period of about 18 months into the game. For the purposes of this review we also played the Playstation 4 release and, sadly, it just loses something in translation. While the game still plays very well and the core components are all still there, there’s just something about having a mouse and keyboard available for a simulator game, especially one of this scale, that makes it feel nice. Holding a controller just seems wrong and less functional for a game of this type which, admittedly, could just be a preference of ours. The game needs a decently powered PC to run smoothly, which it does with no problem on the right hardware. However, we played this iteration of Cities: Skylines on a non-Pro edition of the Playstation 4 and there seemed to be a bit of lag at times, sometimes in the form of noticeable screen lags when zooming around the city in your omniscient state.
Do you like city simulator games at all? Play Cities: Skylines. Please, just listen to us. It’s the best out there. You know yourself and can decide if you would prefer PS4 or PC.
If you don’t like city simulator games – just stay as far away as possible. We don’t want you to ruin it for the rest of us.
Author: Ben Smith
Ben has been playing video games since he had a bottle in his hand. Whether that bottle was full of milk or Kentucky’s finest bourbon is for you to figure out. He’s owned every major console but most of them only as a pathetic excuse for an adult. Ben loves playing games when he’s not spending time with his wife and two kids or otherwise occupied with eating cake.