Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cities in Motion 2 Review


We built this city. We built this city on traaaains and traaaaAAAMS.

  • Developer: Colossal Order
  • Publisher: Paradox Interactive
  • Release Date: 2 April 2013
  • Time played: 3 hours

I'm a big fan of Chris Sawyer's Transport Tycoon, not so much so that I'm going to go out of my way to play the mobile phone remake but I really enjoyed the 1994 original. Ever since playing the game I've developed an appreciation for transport company management games and that's why I liked Colossal Order's first foray into the genre, Cities in Motion.

So when Cities in Motion 2 finally came out, I was pretty keen on sinking my teeth into another transport company management game. Is the sequel worth playing? How does it differ from its predecessor?

Gameplay (2/5)
The core gameplay in Cities in Motion 2 remains the same as its predecessor: you're responsible for running a public transport company for a metropolitan area. You do so by building depots, purchasing vehicles, plotting routes, setting fares, spending money on advertising, and paying your employees. You're also able to access some charts and maps in order to gauge your progress, and complete missions for small rewards.

The game does differ a bit from the original though and unfortunately most of the new changes have taken some of the fun out of the game due to unnecessary complexity. For example, you are now able to set timetables for vehicles and even paint different ticket fare zones (so you can charge a differing amount depending on which zones passengers travel to). This is great for pedants and adding more realism could only be a good thing right? Wrong! Unless I was talking about a simulator or a shooter of course, then you can just ignore what I just said :). The original Cities in Motion struck the right balance on the simplicity-complexity spectrum and they really didn't need to change it. It's not like it even matters either since from what I've heard (and I'm inclined to believe since this is how it worked in the first game) the simplest way to generate income is to build metro lines and ignore buses, ferries, etc. No need to fiddle with timetables or fare zones.

Oh and speaking of metro lines, the reason I haven't been able to test the aforementioned scenario is because it's so damn difficult to build one in the first place! Considering you have to get tracks at the right angle and that you're able to place underground tracks on multiple levels you can easily make a dog's breakfast of it and waste a lot of money in the process. I never recalled having so much trouble with metro lines in the original so I don't know why they had to change the way they worked in the sequel. Okay, yes I do know why, it's because they're allowing the player to have more complicated, realistic underground rail networks. Once again, refer to my statement about adding realism for realism's sake.

Finally, one of the best aspects of the original game was how much effort was put into the single player campaign. Each map was lovingly modelled after real cities during different periods in history. Hell, even the loading screens changed depending on which map you were playing. The architecture and landscape changed from city to city and the missions you received just seemed to make more sense. No such thing in Cities in Motion 2. You don't get as good a single player campaign as the original and they're not based on real life locations.

Sometimes the game is as boring as reading bus timetables. Oh wait...

Sound (5/5)
I had no issues with the sound effects in the game. All the vehicles sound as they should :).

Music (3/5)
The soundtrack is composed by Olli Perttula and while it's pretty good it's nothing really memorable.

Graphics (4/5)
Compared to the original Cities in Motion I would say the graphics have marginally improved. You can definitely see a lot more city on the screen than you used to and there's also the day/night cycles too. It all runs very smoothly so there's not much to complain about in the graphics department, except for maybe the bland building designs.

Replay (2/5)
I wanted to like this game. I really did. Unfortunately, every time I tried to a new hurdle would come up or complicated concept that I would scratch my head about. The tutorial for the game isn't very good and spends more time on the basic concepts of the game instead of the more advanced ones - ones that are quite important if you want to build, let's say, a metro line!

If you are able to persevere with the game though there are Steam achievements and trading cards to collect, not to mention the ability to create your own maps with the built-in editor.

Polish (5/5)
I didn't encounter any serious bugs while playing the game.

Score – 6/10

I tried to like Cities in Motion 2. I really did. In the end though, I think I preferred the original Cities in Motion over its sequel. Cities in Motion 2 adds unnecessary complexity that makes the game less fun to play, not to mention the single player campaign pales in comparison to the original. Yes the graphics are better than the original and yes the ability to play it multiplayer is a pretty huge addition, but is it enough? I don't think so.

Cities in Motion 2 is available from these retailers:

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[ LINK: Official Cities in Motion 2 website]

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