Welcome back to Video Games for Readers and Thinkers, where I explore strong story based or puzzle based games while getting back in touch with my inner gamer (it’s a win-win!) A few weeks ago, I started playing Cities Skylines, by Colossal Order and Paradox Interactive. In my first impression, I was surprised by the complexity of this game and just how much there was to manage all at the same time. I had a rough go at first and pretty much had to start over a couple of times before I could get a reasonable handle on balancing everything in my city. I thought that certainly with a few more weeks keeping at it, I should have a handle on things pretty well.
Well, it’s been a couple of weeks, and while I have gotten better (at least buildings aren’t burning down left and right), I am still finding myself frustrated with essentially the same things I was frustrated with in the beginning. Very early on, one of the things I realized is that the way you build your roads has a huge impact on how everything in your city runs. Unfortunately, while my roads have improved, it still frustrates the ever living heck out of me. Building freeway on ramps and off ramps is most definitely the most frustrating thing I’ve encountered in this game. While there are tools that are meant to help you, I’m finding that they don’t quite work as well as I would like them to. In fact, I generally have to demolish entire sections of the freeway to use said tools, and then connect the freeways back up.
I’ve also realized that public transportation is pretty vital. While this comes at no surprise, what I was quite frustrated by was the fact that streets could not cross train tracks (Or… at least, I haven’t figured out how to do that yet). I mean, I know that train tracks and streets cross all the time in real life, so why can’t I do it in the game? I found myself so frustrated by these little things that my city became quite sprawled out, where I’d have a section of residential way over on one side with lots of space along one or two roads till you got to the other section on the other side of the map. This is what ended up happening because I’d have to build tunnels to go under trains, or you had to spread out intersections so as to avoid congestion. Yes, it was difficult. And yes, I’m absolutely certain this is how city planners must feel. I will say though, that it makes me glad I am not a civil engineer.
While I was quite frustrated by the difficulty I had with the roads and with transportation, I did enjoy advancing my city fairly well. While I don’t know if I should be spreading my city out as much as I am, I am having quite a bit of fun sort of coming up with different districts. This was the main clue to me that spreading out different areas of my city was totally okay—you are able to zone and name various districts in your city. Each one in my mind had its own little personality; like, I had a section of the city in my mind that was filled with really ritzy people, like you’d see on Beverly Housewives. This was a small strip of a residential area sort of off by itself along the river. Then, on the other side of the tracks (literally) was where the “ghetto” people lived because the entire section was all apartments–not that living in an apartment makes you ghetto… Anyhooo, I gave my ghetto plenty of playgrounds and schools—I wanted everyone in my city to be happy, of course.
Overall, I’ve been enjoying the creative liberty this game gives me as I build my city. It’s still just as addicting now as it was when I first started. I’m not sure if that’s because this game doesn’t technically have an “end goal” per se or if it’s because I’m just a very focused person, and I find myself working for hours trying to tackle the traffic issue in a certain section of my city, but I will say that I’m sure no matter how long you play this game, there will always be something new to learn.