City Life Review
|Publisher:||Deep Silver / CDV|
|Release Date:||May 12, 2006 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Grant Wilson (Midnight)|
|Buy now at Amazon.co.uk|
If you're anything like me, the first time you see this game you'll be thinking "yeah, it's just another Sim City Clone, who needs one of those?" But after staying up until 6am the first night of having it installed trying to figure out how best to plan my city, I can easily say this game is way too addictive for its own good.
Don't let the screenshots fool you, there's quite a bit more depth than in your average city building game. For a start the cities feature six different cultures all of which must live together peacefully. These six cultures are all friendly with 2 of the other cultures but don't like to live too near the rest of them. This means when planning your city you have to make sure all the cultures are situated in such a place as to not cause riots in the streets. To aid you in this, each culture has their own varieties of factories and entertainment structures to keep them happy. The "blue collars" and "fringe" groups are the basic workforce of your city, occupying factories, hospitals and police stations and working in all the corner shops and schools that you'll need. The 'have nots' are effectively the "chavs" of the game world, they live in slums and walk about in tracksuits and generally do the jobs that are less desirable, such as working in the waste disposal buildings and the cheap factories that you can construct.
The culture side of the game may sound confusing at first, but when you throw in the fact that educating your cities population will bring in more upper-class cultures such as the "elites" and "suits" you really have your work cut out in keeping everyone happy. Luckily you can quite easily see who lives where due to the fact that all of the roads change colour around your residential and industrial areas to show which culture is most inclined to want to live there. Clicking on any of the buildings on your city will show you how many people live or work there and also how much that building is costing or making you every month. This helps you easily see which buildings are losing your city money and should be replaced with something more beneficial to you. This is also shown with an icon over the building itself, showing what people need. For example: If you build some residential areas, people will soon want somewhere to work so an industrial icon is shown hovering above the houses. Similarly industrial buildings will show how many more people need to be brought into the city of a certain culture to fill up the workforce and keep that factory working at it's maximum potential.
The level of participation required to make your city flourish really keeps the game at an addictive level, there was rarely a moment that I had nothing to do, from building things that my citizens required or just generally walking around on foot admiring what I'd built. Yes, that's right - the graphics in this game really are great. You can zoom all the way out and see a general view of the area that you're building in or zoom right down to a first person perspective and walk around like one of your citizens admiring your growing metropolis! People that you meet as you walk around can be added to your 'address book' which enables you to track their happiness, monitor which buildings they're working at and how far they have to travel to get there. You even get to choose what they look like from a list of pre-defined face templates.
The detail extends to the disasters and riots that can ensue from a poorly managed city, you can watch helicopters rushing to the scene to quash the uprising, you can even hear arguments between citizens - although this is limited to mumbled sentences it still adds to the atmosphere. News helicopters are nearly always monitoring the situations too if you've managed to attract TV stations to your city. Of course it's always fun to set up a large city and build opposing cultures next to each other to watch these events break out.
This level of presentation extends to the animated cut-scenes that pop up in a little window to highlight important events in your city, from unlocking new buildings to people protesting outside your city hall. In fact the only thing that I found annoying about the graphics was the games UI, it just seems a little to large for my liking. It takes up quite a large part of the screen. There are arrows that let you hide things from view, but then you lose the information that they provide you with - I just wish you could scale the UI's size to give you more a larger overview of your city, of course this is just personal preference.
The sound is pretty much what you'd expect, car engines and horns beeping in the traffic. Citizens muttering things to themselves as they go about their daily business. It's nothing groundbreaking but it all helps to build the atmosphere of a large City under development. The music in games like this is usually the first thing I disable, but for once it was good enough to be left on for the duration of my playtime, I even caught myself humming along to one of them - yes I know, sssh.
I really can't find many faults with City Life, there is plenty to keep you busy even once you've built your city how you want it - from monitoring peoples requirements to solving culture conflicts. The game is further extended by any of the many Scenarios, each of which have targets that you must reach to unlock the next area. These range from meeting a certain population figure, to earning a set amount of money on a monthly basis or getting your City Hall to grow in size. The only question is, how many times can you start building a city before you tire of starting all over again. For me I think this will last quite a while, it's one of those games that you can pick up for 15 mins and then save your game for another spare moment. One final word of advice, make sure you have enough spare time before you start your first city because this game will keep you glued to your computer for many hours. Definitely recommended for anyone who likes this genre of game.
- Addictive gameplay
- Detailed graphics
- Lots of scenarios
- Easy to get into
- Quick loading times
Not so good stuff
- UI could do with being scaled down a bit
- Camera angles could be more customisable
- Constantly building a city from scratch could get boring