Cities in Motion [Review]
In today’s world it seems like there is a simulation game for just about every thing; theme parks, golf courses, and railroads just to name a few. In Cities in Motion (CIM) you’re in control of your very own mass transportation company. If you have ever had to ride public transportation and hated it, now’s you chance to improve it. In this game you are given buses, trams, trains (above and subways), boats, helicopters and other various forms of transportation to create the perfect public transportation system that will make all your citizens happy. There are only four different cities you get to play (Berlin, Amsterdam, Vienna, and Helsinki); however, in each city you can play any year between 1920 to 2020. Depending on what year you are playing the vehicles you use will look just like those used in that time period.
My very first impression of this game was, “Wow! These graphics are great!” Even from just the menu screen I was very impressed with the graphics. In game you are able to zoom in and out of your city and I really expected for the quality of the graphics to drop when in either extreme. Fortunately, this was not the case. Everything in the city is very crisp and clean; from the building to the vehicles. Overall the game looks very polished.
There are three different modes of game play in CIM along with a tutorial level. The tutorial level is very basic, but also a must play level. There are a lot of controls/menus in this game to the point that if you don’t play the tutorial you might miss some very important information on just how to navigate the game. As far as the tools go you have two types, your building tools and your business tools. The building tools are every easy to use and well laid out. Everything you need to make a line is in a drop down menu in the center of the screen; keeping it simple and well organized. I would have like to have been able to pre-construct a line before have to pay of it. This is because I had several times where I would start building a line and either run out of money or I could just not lay it out as I wanted and then I was out the money.
Then there are all of you tools for controlling your business on the left hand side as seen above. The Headquarters panel (the top hat) is where you can see your company’s expenses and income, set ticket prices, employees’ salary, start advertising campaign ads, get loans, and see your energy consumption; all the aspects of a real company you have to manage. The campaign ads are nice. If you are not seeing a lot of business from a certain social class, you can put you ad into a media that they are more likely to see such as newspapers, radio, billboards, and internet (when you get to the time period that has internet). Loans are another nice feature, but you have to be careful with them. Sure it will give you some extra money to make a new line, but you still have to pay it back with interest.
The next business tool you have is the vehicle shop where you can buy and sell all your vehicles for your lines. This is followed by your lines menu where you can see each one of you lines, the lists of their stops, and manage the vehicles that are signed to that line. You also have graphs for your company’s progress as well as the city’s economy graphs. You really do need to keep an eye on the economy graphs because if the economy of your city is dropping you will also need to drop your ticket price to keep people happy. Next you have the roster of all your vehicles and stops. This menu will tell you how many people a vehicle has carried, how much money it is making, and a few other stats. The roster for your stops will tell you if people are unhappy at a specific stop, the wait time, the popularity, and the number of the line that stop is on. Lastly, you are able to color code your city to see where there is the highest concentration of homes or work places are as well as traffic patterns. After you played the tutorial level you can move on to the real game play in one of the three different modes: sandbox, campaign, and scenario. In each mode before you start playing you need to design your companies name and logo.
In the sandbox mode you get to pick any city at any time in the 100 year span of time 1920-2020. Then you get to just play around in the city and make your own lines. Campaign and scenario are basically the same thing; the difference being that in campaign you have to progress through each map level, while in scenario mode you can select which one of the 12 levels you want to do. If you choose to start campaign mode, you will begin in 1923 Berlin. Your company is hired to improve the cities transportation system and you are given random assignments to complete such as connecting old existing lines to new ones. Once you have completed your assignment you are paid for your work and of course you also get paid every time someone uses your transportation. However, there is so much going on in this game that you can’t just focus on one aspect such as completing your assignments or making sure the citizens are happy. You need a good balance of both in order to keep being profitable.
If you focus just on one of the many aspects of this game your company with end up in a lot of debt. This is because you need your customer to be happy so you can have a steady income and still have the funds to complete your assignments. This is what really gets you a good amount of money to then invest into improving your lines for your customers. What makes this so difficult to achieve is that the game tracks everyone’s economy. If people are not making money it will directly affect your company since they will not be able to pay for transportation.
There are tools to help you figure out why your customers are not happy, but I did not find them very useful. The tools are just a system of menus and charts giving you information like waiting time and which stop people are most unhappy at. I repeatedly had problems making my customers happy. It felt a bit overwhelming to me since there were so many aspects of the game to maintain to keep business rolling. Everytime I felt like I finally might be doing good, the whole economy would drop and I would start going into a growing debt that I couldn’t get out of even with getting loans; in fact the loans seemed to made it worse.
Even with all the tools I just could not figure out how to make everyone happy. It always seemed that the only thing making them unhappy was the waiting time; even when I had 50 plus buses on one bus line. I really wish that when you clicked on a stop that it gave you more information then just how many people were unhappy. I thought perhaps if I knew how many people of each social class where unhappy I could make a new line that would be tailored to their needs. However in CIM, every citizen has its very own AI; so even two citizens of the same social class might have different needs. It’s this factor that makes this game so challenging. Every person has different needs and well, you can’t make everyone happy.
One tool will highlight and color certain classes of buildings on your map such as homes and work places. However the second you start to create a new transportation line the coloring changes to show you what area your new line will cover instead of what you just highlighted. I found this made it very difficult to create my lines because I kept having to stop creating my line and go back to the map so that I could see again what class of buildings I was trying to tailor my line to in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong, this game is very addicting. I kept finding myself playing for hours and just getting lost in it. I just think this game is overly complex for someone who might not play a lot of simulation games. It seems as though it would be better suited for an actual transportation company to test out their plans. Maybe if the tools were able to tell you who is not happy and why it would have been easier for me. However, I understand that since the citizens each have their own AI that is not really possible. Overall though this game is okay. If you are looking for a game to kill some time CIM is good because you will definitely get sucked into it. However, I think it is just far too complex for a beginner and would be better suited for some of the simulation aficionado’s out there.