Cities In Motion – Review

A review of Cities in Motion I wrote for the website www.square-go.com

Toys. That’s all games really are. Really complicated expensive toys but toys nonetheless. That gets forgotten in video games but not all the time, sometimes you get a game that is focussed around winding things up and watching them go.

Cities in Motion joins a long and proud tradition of simulation games, games like Sim City, The Settlers, Dwarf Fortress, Tropico, games that task you with building up something and…just watching it run.

As the name suggests, Cities in Motion is based around keeping a city moving via it’s transit systems. You’re running the bus routes, the tram lines, the train system, even helicopters. Your job is to keep the city running, keep the people happy and, more importantly, turn a profit.

All this is done in nicely realised cities; this may not seem like much but being able to zoom in and see people waiting at your bus stop, to see the cars driving about makes everything seem more real.

The game is, to put it mild, not afraid to give you control of things. For example, laying down a bus route; first you set the location for each individual bus stop, then connect them in a line then add a vehicle to the route. A little bit too complex? Possibly, especially when you drop a bus stop on the wrong side of the road and only notice after ten minutes of fiddly mouse clicking. There are things like advertising campaigns, maintenance costs for everything, wages, tickets prices to set…there are a lot of menus to fiddle with.

Too many? Very possibly but then this isn’t a game for the faint at heart. This is a game for people who want that level of control, who want to be able to tweak every little setting to their hearts desire creating their perfect transit system.

This is what is at the centre of Cities In Motion; when everything is running smoothly and the people are happy and your busses are chugging along a treat then that is real joy. The problem is to get there you need to dig through all of those menus, you need to spend a lot of time fiddling around with it. Instead of looking at the great cites with all of the hustle and bustle it ends up being hidden behind menus, being graphs and cost projections. It all becomes too much like a real job.

You can play a more guided version of the game with tasks and missions and what not, or just start with a blank city and to play with at your hearts content. There are also a fair few expansions with different cities and eras to play with.

So Cities In Motion is a good fun game, but it’s certainly aimed itself at a niche audience. Not everyone will want to spend the time that the game asks of you in order to get to that point where you can sit back and just watch your creation work. For those that do, they should have themselves a good time.

Three stars out of five

Originally published December 6th 2012

 

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