Cities: Skylines (PlayStation 4) Review

By Sam Turner 16.10.2017

Review for Cities: Skylines on PlayStation 4

It might be stinkingly obvious to point out, but Cities: Skylines is a game about nurture. From the very first layer of tarmac laid, to the seemingly uncontrollable sprawl of a living city, this is a title about evolution. Derivative, though it might be, of other city building simulators, Colossal Order's SimCity-a-like feels distinctly different, a product set apart from the sharp edges of other more hard line experiences. There is a relaxed, sedentary approach to city design, which somehow manages not to drop the experience into mediocrity, instead lifting it beyond its peers.

Beyond a worryingly stark main menu, Cities: Skylines has a most unassuming introduction. After initially setting up the sandbox, players are left with nothing more than a blank canvas of metropolitan opportunities, which is painfully daunting. It's an understated opening few minutes and does nothing to revitalise the perception that this is a bland, flavourless, and long forgotten genre.

This placid opening reception is not at all enhanced by a tutorial experience that is not as comprehensive or as detailed as someone with such a monumental task as creating a world would ideally prefer. Early moments tend to involve rapidly laying down roads and effortlessly designating areas to personal, commercial, or industrial use. However, the demands of the populous suddenly become apparent as thoughts quickly bend towards the necessity of power and water... and, as things become more complicated, the early tutorial feels obscure and inefficient.

Screenshot for Cities: Skylines on PlayStation 4

These early moments do leave an indelible mark on much of Cities: Skylines, as in order to get answers to many of the early questions that will dog the player, they will have to put the effort in. At times it's critical to have to look away from the game, consulting forums and videos that do nothing to create any enthusiasm around creating a city.

What is crucial to learn is that the trial and error required to improve needs to be embraced. This can certainly frustrate but, ultimately, it means when achieving the right balance of infrastructure, taxes, and growth, it is a reward that is well earned and valued due to all that has fallen before.

As mentioned before, though, this is a game about nurture and Cities: Skylines does gently push the player along through each step of their experience. Even though it is severely lacking in tutorial assistance, it does do an overwhelming job of making sure budding city builders are in touch with each living atom of their city.

Screenshot for Cities: Skylines on PlayStation 4

Behind the simple mechanics of creating a city hides a UI filled with a multitude of bars, measurements, and happy faces that are the metrics of success. There is a distinct difference between making a successful city and making an average city. Navigating these different evaluation panes can be clumsy with the PlayStation4 control scheme, but it's still a welcome level of detail. It shows how much Cities: Skylines wants people to engage with their creation. In fact, although the controls being a little clunky from time to time, they are still some of the most intuitive and well ported controls to be shifted from PC to PlayStation 4.

Despite all of these slight stumbling blocks, Cities: Skylines achieves its ambition of passion borne from meticulous design. Once the basic rules of founding a city are perfected, there is unlimited joy to be gained from watching the city grow from a paving slab to a bustling skyline. Houses seemingly pop up from nowhere in a time lapse effortlessness that would make Kevin McCloud weep. This procedural style is hypnotic and creates a duality for the player between town planner and town voyeur as they zoom in to see the surprising detail of the creation as it comes to life.

Screenshot for Cities: Skylines on PlayStation 4

Once a city begins to grow, the whole world can sometimes feel like it's getting away from those previously in control, especially for those particularly efficient at city design. A well-made city will begin to take care of itself after a time, and other than continual development, there is not much that will massively derail progress. Fires can erupt and water systems can become contaminated but beyond this, and a few minor issues, a fine city will rise. The good news is that this PlayStation port will also be graced with the many expansions that have since been released for the PC, which introduce a whole host of natural disasters and cataclysmic events.

Everything mechanic is structured to encourage progress and whilst this endless development might feel less engaging to those who would prefer to fight against constant setbacks, Cities: Skylines instead creates a meditative experience. It's rare that a game gives people time to sit and let their mind wander whilst also taking charge of important city construction, but the flowing design of Cities: Skylines and the easy pacing allows this freedom of thought.

Screenshot for Cities: Skylines on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Despite significant early niggles with guidance and pacing, Cities: Skylines manages to create a nurturing environment in which a player has the freedom to really engage and love their city. There is a genuine connection between the game and its constructor. With a complex design system expertly hidden behind an inviting and easygoing experience, people can find peace within the expansive landscapes and that is a rare thing in what is usually a high stakes and stressful simulated experience.

Developer

Colossal Order

Publisher

Paradox Interactive

Genre

Simulation

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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