Last year’s SimCity disappointed me. Beautifully presented, it was nevertheless cramped, buggy, and content to throw thousands of simoleons at me no matter how good or bad I was at my job. It broke my heart a tiny bit. When I heard that Colossal Order were working on Cities: Skylines, I wondered if they might just pick up the pieces. Already experts on making games about transport and infrastructure, their pedigree suggested that Cities: Skylines might just be the civil engineer-cum-defibrillator that I needed to fix everything.
Sitting down to watch Colossal Order CEO Mariina Hallikainen play with a very early build of the game, I found everything remarkably recognisable, perhaps even too familiar. Cities: Skylines looks an awful lot like the the last SimCity and that’s not simply because it demands a floating, eye-of-God perspective and buttons for laying down roads or stretching out industrial estates. Its interface is laid out in a very similar way. Many of the overlays work in a very similar way. I’m immediately reminded of how the Warlock games, also published by Paradox, looked very much like a fantasy mod for Civilization V.