It pains me to say I had to break my Paradox Interactive boycott to play this game. As many of you know I was completely enthralled by how good Cities in Motion was. I felt the game was superb and one of the best simulators out there. So here I am breaking my coveted boycott just this once to see what Paradox Interactive has to offer us.
The Brief: DLC Done Right
There are a lot of DLC haters out there. But for every DLC hater there are ten people who are buying the DLC and you just never hear from them (because they’re enjoying the DLC).
Certain DLC practices however are very questionable and very suspect.
The first of these is the dreaded, Day 1 DLC. Day 1 DLC involves splitting up a game into parts so that you can maximize your Day 1 profits. It’s based off of research that indicates that DLC sales tremendously shrink over time. The most famous of these is Crusader Kings 2 which released a historic 8 DLCs on their first day each costing around $10 a pop.
The new UI out strips the old in beauty and innovation
A second approach is DLC that modifies online play modes. This kind of DLC gives an unfair advantage to those who have the DLC over those that do not. In any other game this would just be called a patch that everyone gets for free.
Then there are all of the acceptable DLCs. Bethesda’s model of creating downloadable content that creates massive interest story arches is seen as the best and most acceptable.
Cities in Motion has an interesting profit model. It starts off with the game selling at about 1/3 of it’s total value. So instead of selling for $50-60 it sells for $20. This hooks people into the game. After this they will sell you city packs for $5. After four years of development the total cost of the game and DLCs will come up to $50-60.
This too is now seen as a fairly acceptable way of doing business as it allows more people to jump into the game and the developers have to work for the rest of their money.
Have you ever hated public transit? Why of course you have. In fact public transit is one of the top complained about things in the entire world. As a young man I took the bus to work. The bus took 1.5 hours to get me to work and 45 minutes to get me home. So I started walking to work, 30 minutes away and never used public transit ever again.
Cities in Motion 2 puts you behind the decision making chair as you are forced to craft out a public transit system. Much like existing public transit systems you will be able to charge people for using your service and will have to use this to cover the costs of expansion and employees.
Employees come into three different types, drivers, cashiers, and maintenance.
What were you expecting, it’s a train simulator… how many more employees could you want?
The focus of the game is around plopping stops all over the map and connecting them in routes. An efficient mass transit system will involve metro routes around the city with connecting tram, bus, and trolley routes.
It seems the boats and helicopters have been done away with from Cities in Motion. This seems like a prudent step. Plopping down helicopters routes between high income neighborhoods just ended up being way too profitable and made the game jokeably easy.
However jokeably easy this game is not. In the past you could go underground with your metro. Now you have to demolish streets and buildings to efficiently move this metro around.
As well people will move in anywhere you put down roads. This means after you are done building your public transit system in the city you can create expansions to continue doing work. In this sense bulldozing down 10 high rises to put in your metro won’t be the end of the world as those people can just move to the burbs.
Much like in the previous game the focus of this game is around making profitable routes and maintaining image (approval ratings) and money. Approval ratings go up by having less people wait for transit and by having more comfortable buses, trains, trams, and trollies.
The game also sees a return of graphs… far more graphs than ever before. The most important of these (and improved) indicates what social class a person fits into and what building they go to work at. A blue collar worker will love the buses, however a white collar worker might prefer the metro or the tram.
The game comes with a single city campaign representing a “modern” city. This at least tells us that they will be releasing older cities and older models. Unlike the previous game the city is cut into parts including three suburbs that are all built up in separate missions with separate budgets.
Purple are trolleys and buses are blue.
Over time people will come forward with objectives. The main city planner will provide all of the missions you have to complete. Other characters from the Boy Scout Leader to the CIA Operative will come forward asking you to make them specific routes in exchange for money.
A new feature added to the game is the ability to make expansion slots for the city. When building roads people will move in along the new roads you just built. This means that as you begin to finish out the mass transit of your city, you can just build more of the city.
The one campaign will get you about 10 hours of play value. There is sandbox and multiplayer (which is currently semi-active) but campaigns are what will drive the majority of people. For those unaware of how things work it’s possible they may have to take several tries and on top of that extend into something silly like 40-50 hours of play.
If you’re new to the genre a few tips. Take out massive loans, it is sensible to have over $100,000 in loans initially. Build a massive tram or train network across your entire city. After this slowly start adding in trolley and bus routes. The new addition of zones means you can make a lot of money off of very local transit and increase passengers who will travel further by discounting long range travel.
- Convenient Information Packaging
- Flexible UI
- Smarter AI
One thing you might remember from Cities in Motion was that most of the information you got was either presented poorly, or just not that useful. CiM2 (as it is often called) makes sure to show information in a very visual manner.
The UI is so flexible. It works more like an operating system than a game. You will have menues pop up with information. You will click on items and new menus will pop up. You can close off older menus or simply move them off to the side. You can scroll around your city and get the largest view of a city I have ever seen in any simulator game. Placing tracks is made easy and obvious. When you make a mistake it is very visual what it is.
There are so many flow charts in this game you won’t know what to do with yourself.
One thing I hated about CiM was how bloody stupid the AI was. I don’t know how many times I would have two trams just stop and politely offer each other the right of way for endless hours. Eventually I’d have to close down one line and then re-open it immediately. There are seemingly far less traffic jams caused by your own AI not driving around.
As well the new depot system is neat. Vehicles will sit in depots until they are needed. So as you add more lines to depots trains will become more or less useful over time. It also gives you a better indication of when you should add more vehicles. There was nothing lamer than in CiM when you would add a bus to what seemed like a super popular line… and then suddenly everything went bankrupt.
CiM2 gives you more information and better control. It is overall a far better designed game.
- Not Bugs
- Multiplayer Bugs
There is an existing bug in the campaign in which it will not allow you to complete objectives. In some instances where it will, it does not properly track your progress. So if you have actually completed 50% of an objective it will still show as having only completed 0% of the objective. For some people loading up this game will just appear blank with nothing on the screen. There has been no reason given for this, but it is effecting a large number of computers.
A major bug that hit me is when you have the game on for so long a lot of the trees will turn black.
Another bug involves if you have too many vehicles floating around the game slows down to under 5 frames per second… or almost unplayable speeds.
There are also some poor design elements that people think are bugs, but are not bugs. This is pretty common in simulators period. So very often people will confuse what feel like obtuse design choices as being bugs. One of the most common ones in this game are the metro lines, tram lines, and trolley lines. All of these are really awkward and have some really odd choices. As an example the line out of any non-bus station will not automatically connect with a tram line. You have to manually add those in.
When I received this mission I nearly lost my mind…
Another odd design choice is to not have a UI option for metro going underground. As well instead of being able to have straight metro tracks (like a normal metro has) you are forced to use curved circular tracks which are annoying and difficulty to implement. It’s not a bug… it’s just annoying. The alternative they have selected for metro tracks is to (without telling you) make it so you have to press Page up or Page down to get the tracks to go in the air or underground. This makes for so many awkward moments where you’re forced to spend another $200,000 to try and link up two tracks that are almost side by side.
There are also bugs relating to the coveted multiplayer option. Currently people are having problems getting a stable connection and nothing will kill a corporate public transit competition like when one person is forced to forfeit from a bad connection.
SimCity vs Cities in Motion 2
SimCity is not a bad game. In fact it’s one of the best games I played all year. The drawback on SimCity was not there was so much disabled functionality that after so many hours of play it became unplayable. I still am trying to build a Great Work by myself and it literally takes days as things just don’t work how they should.
SimCity is a city building game. Your interest is in building a great city. Mass transit in this game is sort of just plop and autoplay.
Cities in Motion is not a city building game, it is unique. Cities in Motion is a mass transit building game.
Just like SimCity once you start playing you will have problems pulling yourself away from it. As well CiM2 is not very grindy compared to say SimCity. You can take out an almost infinite number of loans and only have to really keep your cash flow in the positive.
As well I think CiM2 despite having some things that are not functional (like multiplayer) is far more functional than SimCity will be for the next few months.
If you are sitting there thinking should I pay $60 for SimCity or $20 for CiM2, I recommend spending the $20 on CiM2 and save that $40 for the next two years of DLC.
This is an average game. I wouldn’t be surprised if Metacritic give it a 60.
Unfortunately like so many Paradox Interactive crap games this one was rushed out long before it was ready. I’d recommend waiting to buy this game until a sale is on and only if they fix all of the ridiculous bugs.
THE PARADOX INTERACTIVE BOYCOTT IS BACK ON AND STRONG!
EDIT April 6: Made corrections on some misinformation I presented. Added some screen shots of the game.
April 7: Added in SimCity vs Cities in Motion 2 section.