Thursday, 24 February 2011

Review: Cities in Motion

So, you've read my preview. The lure was just too great. Now, here's my review.

Cities In Motion
Developer: Colossal Order Ltd
A simulation game solely based around transporting people and the transport infrastructure sounds a bit like working for the Local Government Transport Planning Department. You pick places where to place your bus/train/tram stops, buy the appropriate method of transport for the area and create routes around the place. It also sounds a bit limited and boring... but you'd be pretty surprised as you will learn below.

User Interface

A game can be made or broken by the simplicity of it's User Interface. Fortunately Colossal Order Ltd were wise and have taken a similar route to Transport Tycoon and Sim City, keeping it simple but giving you enough options to look over statistics and monitor routes with ease. Anyone familiar with any of these games should be able to connect with Cities in Motion within a few minutes and even newcomers to this kind of game will pick things up just by playing the tutorial, which itself is comprehensive but not excessively long or complicated.

Helsinki - Looks good fully zoomed in
Zoom levels are great and with every press of the left or right arrow button, the camera  pans smoothly around 45 degrees, giving you a quick and easy way to view your cityscape around 360 degrees.

There are a few clunky moments where you want to close your Routes window but end up trying to delete it. Thankfully a handy confirmation box pops up and you hastily scream 'Nooooo!' at your PC when it took you 10 minutes to plan out the perfect 26 stop route, including building the stops as you went. Overall the UI handles excellently and won't obstruct your gameplay.

Graphics

Anyone playing this type of game for the graphics needs to get out more. Whilst the graphics in City in Motion are of a good quality without standing out much, the main meat of these games are the gameplay and the 'creation of your own empire' aspect. Animation and small details can be seen in the closer zoom options and they add a nice city atmosphere to the game.

Helsinki - Looks good fully zoomed out too!
Sound

Much like the graphics, the sound in City in Motion does not stand out as being absolutely fantastic but for a simulator game, they are perfectly acceptable. The sound of buses and trains has never really excited me but if it does, then the sound in City in Motion will be right up your street.

Gameplay

As the owner of a transport business, you are challenged by the people who run the city to improve the transport links around town. meet several main objectives and some optional objectives along the way. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, yes and no would be the best answer here.

Yes - it is really easy to build up some bus stops, create a route, purchase a few buses and assign them to the route to ferry passengers from A to B. The same can be said about trams and trains too... BUT, and here's where the kicker is... there is a boatload of traffic around. Yes in the first scenario, 1920's Berlin, your buses which can carry a total of 10 passengers at a time are stopped from merrily exchanging money for transportation by gridlocked traffic.


Another issue you can encounter is an extraordinary amount of people waiting to use a bus. At one point I had over 150 passengers standing at one bus stop on a 26 stop route, operated by 15 buses. As my buses came into that stop, full to the brim with their allocation of 10 passengers, only one or two people seemed to ever want to stop there and my queue went down by meagre amounts each time a bus arrived. Whilst I do not expect 10 passengers to embark at one stop and disembark at the next, which is what happens in some simulator games, I did not expect 1 bus stop to accumulate 150 passengers - all dying to go on the same route around town!

The ability to create custom scenarios only serves to further enhance the games' credentials. Undoubtedly the community will be eager to create it's own content, as is usually the case with all games simulator-like.

Conclusion

To conclude, Cities in Motion is all that you expect of a simulation game. It is a peaceful game which you can pause to you lay each piece of rail track perfectly or attempt to rectify routes that are just not running to your satisfaction. It is well polished but exhibits some of the typical niggly bugs which are synonymous with new PC releases in this era. In my eyes, the level of statistics has been kept beautifully simple - not too basic but provides enough number work to satisfy all but the most stat-happy people. Simply put, if simulators are your poison then at the price that Cities in Motion is, you'd be simply mad to miss out. 

ElcomeSoft Score:  7.5/10 


Check out my other previews and reviews here.