Most gamers remember the infamous SimCity debacle a few years ago where EA crippled one of their best flagship titles with bugs, glitches, and horrible online issues that set the bar to this very day on what not to do when launching a title. Luckily for those who love building simulators, when things like this happen, it tends to make other companies rise up and pick up the slack. That’s exactly what Paradox Interactive did back in 2015 with Cities Skylines, which became the new go-to game to get your building fix. Now they’ve ported it over along with the After Dark DLC for the Xbox One in Cities: Skylines – Xbox One Edition, which does a great job constructing something fun to build from the comfort of your couch.
You start things off by choosing a map of land you want to build your city on and name it whatever you’d like. Each map has it’s own strengths and weak points such as more or less water, trees, coal, hills, etc. that will make it easier or more difficult to make your city. From here the game drops a few hints on how to play and set up your city, but doesn’t tell you as much as it should. This will prove to be rather frustrating for those unfamiliar with these types of games (myself included), and will take a lot of trial and error to get things going. On the plus side, there are options to make things a little easier such as having unlimited money and having all the building options unlocked, at the cost of not earning achievements of course. But these options give you a chance to just mess around and figure out how things work, and then you can go back and start the game fresh with these options off when you’re ready.
Once you’ve laid down some roads, added some zones to them that dictate what kind of buildings will appear there such as homes, stores, and industrial zones to supply your city, this will be the foundation for your special place. One of the most annoying and frustrating parts to me was trying to figure out how to lay down water pipes and power lines for your homes, buildings, etc. to keep your people happy. But once you get the hang of it, things become a little easier to manage. Since this title also includes the After Dark DLC built in, you can even make fun and exotic places for your people like clubs and cool hangout spots. Then there’s all the other micromanaging stuff you’ll have to check on constantly, such as your people’s happiness which comes from making sure you keep things clean and pollution-free, making better roads and bridges for easier access to stores and workplaces, and more. You can access all of this info by pulling up menus that give you detailed analytics on your city and will help you make things awesome. This comes in handy as there’s so much to do, you can easily get overwhelmed with building schools to make your people smarter, and constructing more businesses to open up more jobs and opportunities for your citizens.
One of the other gripes I had with this title were the graphics not being as crisp as they could be. You’d think with a simple looking game like this that it would run at 60fps and have some sweet HD textures, but there’s not the case here. While I understand graphics in games like these are usually not the best due to how hectic things can get once your city is busy, but you can’t help but feel like the visuals look and run like something from an Xbox 360 title here. Perhaps they’ll patch in some visual flair in later, and it’s not like this takes anything away from the gameplay, it just would’ve been nice to have it look and run like it does on the PC.
If you love SimCity or just want to try your hand at building simulators from your couch, Cities: Skylines – Xbox One Edition is the game for you. While it doesn’t look as polished as its PC counterpart, and starting out can frustrating, but once you’re bitten by the building bug, you might find the construction tools hard to put down.