Review: Cities in Motion (PC)

Cities in Motion (PC)
Genre: Transportation Simulator
Developer: Colossal Order
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release Date: 2/22/2011

I will start out by saying that it has been a long time since I have played a management sim for a good amount of time. I think one of the Tycoon games was the last one I really got into (It wasn’t Transport Tycoon, since that is the standard apparently this game is held up against on the internet). Most of this has to do with the fact that I never had a computer that I really enjoyed playing video games on.

So I figured I would give the genre a chance with Cities in Motion. I just recently built a computer to do all types of nerdy things, and PC Gaming happened to just be one of them. Did Cities in Motion make a good impression?

1. Story/Game Modes

You’re a City Planner responsible for handling all of city’s transportation issues; setting up lines, creating stop, buying vehicles, maintenance of said vehicles, etc. Your goal is to create transportation lines that help people get from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time for a reasonable amount of money. This also requires you to keep up to date on the economic changes that are happening in your city. There are four campaigns you can play in the game, which are set in different cities (Amsterdam, Vienna, Berlin and Helsinki) over four different eras, from the 1920s to 2020s. Basically, you are granted access by the major at the beginning of each campaign, and he gives you goals (or quests if you want) that you have to accomplish. It’s pretty standard and nothing out of the ordinary. The game also comes with a sandbox mode that allows you to play any of the four cities you want. Once again, there’s nothing out of the ordinary with this mode either. Seems pretty standard presentation here.

Story/Game Modes Rating: Mediocre

2. Graphics

The game accurately portrays time periods (albeit we don’t know how the 2020s will be yet) by the look of the vehicles. The colors are vibrant and the game really shines when you zoom in close enough to see all the work you have put into correctly assembling a successful transportation system. It makes you feel like you are standing over a real city model with moving parts.

Graphics Rating: Great

3. Sound

Think Techno Music mixed with Jazzy undertones and you have what you will be listening to while you play this game. I can’t say I hated it and I can’t say that I liked it… it was just kind of there. It gets drowned out somewhat when you get several lines up and running on your screen. It is nice to hear the sound effects of an actual customer getting onto the bus and dropping change into the box, as it is a very nice indicator of how well your lines are running.

Sound Rating: Decent

4. Control and Gameplay

The controls of the game are good. There are a lot of drop down menus, which, if you don’t actively close them, will jumble up your screen, but it was never a real problem for me. The news ticker scrolling across the bottom of your screen will alert you about traffic jams and if one of your vehicles has broken down. That is helpful in case you left a certain line unattended to for quite some time.

Though the controls are solid, the game play created some issues for me. During the tutorial I was required to create a tram line to move ahead, and I did exactly what the prompt told me to, but no matter how many times I did it or where I did it, it would not let me move on. That happened four times, but luckily for me on the 5th try it accepted it. I also encountered a problem in games with traffic jams that simply wouldn’t go away. It would basically force you to create a completely different line as a workaround (which is expensive). Note: I have read that this has been patched recently.

Outside of those problems that caused a good deal of grief for me, the game ran smooth.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Decent

5. Replayability

One of the main draws of this genre and of the simulation genre in general is replayability. This is no different with Cities in Motion; if you feel like you need more of a challenge in creating your transit network, you can change the difficulty or you can create your own city with the map editor. While you may have no need to replay the Campaigns over again, the game should provide the right person hours upon hours of entertainment.

Replayability Rating: Above Average

6. Balance

The game can be seemingly unfair at some points of the game. This is because when things go wrong they seem to really bottleneck for you. You have an economic downturn, followed by 50% of your vehicles needing repairs. The game allows you to take out loans from the bank in the hopes climbing your way out of debt, but it becomes very difficult. In this aspect, it is realistic… but sometimes it can be a little bit too much. Even though this game can seem a little overwhelming at times, it is easily worth its price tag.

Balance Rating: Above Average

7. Originality

Even though I haven’t played simulators like Cities in Motion for a good number of years, I don’t see anything revolutionary about it. It follows the formula laid down before it arrived.

Originality Rating: Poor

8. Addictiveness

This is an area where an above average simulator of any kind will be very addicting. Cities in Motion fills into that category. I was obsessed with creating better routes and earning more money than I have done before. With the options are set before you, there is no one way to go about everything and it is a lot of fun trying new ideas out.

Addictiveness Rating: Very Good

9. Appeal Factor

Unfortunately I do not see Cities in Motion transcending the niche market that it resides in. It does not have the name recognition of a Sims game and does nothing that extraordinary to create a buzz among casual gamers.

Appeal Factor Rating: Bad

10. Miscellaneous

The game flows nicely, even with some of the balance problems that I faced. The constant battle between keeping your company in the black while appeasing the customers is a nice challenge. You are provided with a graph that separates you customers into seven different categories. Mostly this has to do with what kind of transportation they prefer. It is helpful, as this helps you know which service you should spend your time on improving. But it’s not completely thought out; it just provides you with a horizontal bar going from red to green to express the level of happiness of said group. It would be nice if it could be a little bit more fleshed out.

Miscellaneous Rating: Above Average

The Scores:
Story/Game Modes: Mediocre
Graphics: Great
Sound: Decent
Control and Gameplay: Decent
Replayability: Above Average
Balance: Above Average
Originality: Poor
Addictiveness: Very Good
Appeal Factor: Bad
Miscellaneous: Above Average
Final Rating: Decent Game!

Short Attention Span Summary:
Cities in Motion is a very nice looking game that provides hours of entertainment for someone that is looking to play a transportation simulator. Unfortunately for me, there were bugs that interrupted my fun. I can see what Colossal Order was trying to accomplish, but unfortunately I don’t think it is there yet. This is a very good effort for a development team their first time out and hopefully they can build upon it. Even with the problems I had playing this game, it is hard to turn it down in regards to the price tag and how many hours someone will likely play it.



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