Imagine. Running your own public transportation business in a handful of European cities. Working your brains out to accomplish a traffic-free transportation grid using environment-friendly energy. Sounds like fun!
If you’re not excited about such concepts, then why are you still reading this? Get the hell out of our blog.
When we heard about Cities in Motion, we immediately discussed about whether to love or hate this game, even before we actually had a chance to witness the game in action. Most of our editors – including myself – are familiar with and have experienced well-built public transportation systems around the globe, like Europe and Asia, so we didn’t know how the game might appeal to U.S. gamers. Let’s be honest; U.S. does not have the world’s sexiest public transportation system.
Let’s not even worry about the appealing factor of such genre; how about the gameplay? Simulation games are often presented with the complexities of realism that the learning curve alone could be a turn-off to casual and even some core gamers. How will Cities in Motion be balanced? Well, let’s figure it out!
User interface is simple enough. You have access to every menu with the mouse or the keyboard. You can even customize shortcut keys which is always nice. Simple and effective.
Graphics in Cities in Motion are above satisfactory. Most players will be busy moving around the map, zoomed all the way out to figure the best routes possible. But if gamers would give it a couple of seconds to zoom-in anywhere in the map, they will probably be pleasantly surprised. Buildings, transportation devices, environments and even citizens are well-detailed. Things always happen. People are always moving, eager to get to their destination using the public transportation system the player constructed.
Too bad gamers won’t be able to find much free time to zoom-in and stare at details on the map. The Campaign mode is probably where most gamers would start; with a given mission and objectives, player will be busy just keeping up with and following the advisor’s instructions. The good part of Campaign mode is that players don’t really have to finish every objectives to complete a scenario. In each scenario there’s always the single most important mission (though the game still calls it an objective), and if you accomplish the mission, the player has no choice but to advance to the next scenario. It seems a bit linear, yes?
Not to worry if you’re more into a sandbox type of simulation game. There’s a mode literally called “Sandbox.” No pressure of doing objectives; you can do whatever you want with cities.
Having no time limit for objectives can be both good and bad. If you don’t have enough money to do such tasks, you can still accept the objective and put it aside until you make enough profit to move on. Having such freedom can be a good thing, and usually it eases the mind of the players, giving full control of how they want to proceed. We just wished that the reward for appreciation towards finishing objectives would be just more than a thank you note from advisor with cheap “bell” sound effects. How about a crowd cheering while shining particles surrounding a gold star? Everybody loves shiny things that comes with a crowd cheer, right? Any dramatic presentation might have helped a bit.
Routing a line for transportation vehicles is easy. Modifying a line by adding or subtracting stations is also easy. Most of the time the game system automatically re-routes to optimize a line for the shortest travel time. Only when we confused ourselves with routing a line, did it seem like the game system failed to optimize the line as well. And how about a feature of undo-ing a line modification? That might have helped us a few time.
Figuring out routes is one thing, but figuring out crowd control is another. Rosters in the game have useful information to make such decisions, but it doesn’t give you an idea about the flow of major population. If you see a common point of interest like a train station or an airport, it’s safe to assume that the station nearby will be crowded. It’s fun figuring out such problems, but it would’ve made our job a whole lot easier if we had a map with a passenger flow. Wait, that would make this game too easy. Well, we think the current mainstream games are too easy compared to classics so let’s just agree that Cities In Motion has the right amount of difficulty.
Our complaint really isn’t in the gameplay or design, but rather the shortage of content. You get a decent amount of gameplay hours, but a genre like this is very addictive, and we would like to have seen more cities to play with. And using a bulldozer can be hit and miss; often you end up deleting tram tracks instead of the station you wanted to get rid of.
In our opinion, Cities In Motion has just the right amount of simulation in it for many gamers to enjoy. The game focuses on your ability to direct public transportation traffic which is a great concept to begin with. Details in graphics are enjoyable. Listening to the different motor sounds of vehicles is fun. Only thing you should seriously consider is your free time, because once you pass the somewhat-easy learning curve, you will be busy for days to come.