Review – Cities: Skylines (Xbox One)
This is a weird game to be released for a console. Cities: Skylines is a direct port of a much acclaimed PC-only city building simulator, widely considered as the real successor to Sim City. Simulators like these have their interface revolved around the usage of mouse and keyboards, so it’s quite confusing that the developers have still decided to port Skylines to a controller-based console. The results were actually quite better than expect, albeit very flawed in some aspects.
The question you might be asking yourself is if the controls are awful or not. I’m delighted to inform you all that they aren’t, and are in fact much better than what I’d expected. That doesn’t mean they’re flawless, as the control scheme is quite confusing and user-unfriendly at first. But you can blame that on the hardships of porting various mouse-focused menus and options onto a controller with many buttons. Almost all of them are used for a specific command, and some even require you to hold a button to show up yet another menu full of options. It looks confusing on paper (and it kinda is), but you can get used to the interface after a few hours. Eventually you’ll master the commands and will be able to build cities with ease.
Given how the controls aren’t the most flawed aspect of the game, you might be asking yourself which part is, then. This infamous “award” goes to two aspects of Skylines: the graphics and the sound department.
To put it pretty simply, the game doesn’t look that great, but it nevertheless punishes the Xbox One’s processor a lot with the size and scope of the cities you create. When you first create your city, it’s all a barren wasteland with nothing but green fields, beautiful rivers and nice lighting. Once you start building your city, however, you’ll realize how slow the framerate will get, given the amount of elements present onscreen. Skylines has an excellent draw distance but that backfires in this case, as the amount of buildings onscreen will make the framerate drop down to the single digits in some cases. It gets even worse at nighttime, with all the (actually very good) lighting effects on the streets and buildings.
The sound department isn’t good either, sadly. The game features very few tracks, all of them as bland as you can possibly imagine, all of which are looped incessantly. To add insult to injury, the sound effects are also very irritating, with loud ambulance noises being the thing you’ll hear the most during your entire playthtough. I strongly recommend playing the game on mute, just put any other song you’ll enjoy more. I’d suggest using the Sim City 3000 soundtrack, you can’t go wrong with that delicious jazz.
All issues aside, all confusing control schemes aside, I have still enjoyed my time with Cities: Skylines. Yes, not having mods is a bummer, and yes, I would have had a lot more fun playing this in a windowed screen on a computer (where the waiting between anything happening onscreen would be filled with me watching something on Youtube or even playing something else on a controller), but I won’t deny this fact: the game is still fun to play, and it offers lots of freedom for you to create very large cities with ease. You can even play the game with infinite money, if you want, just build as much as you want without thinking at all about a budget (although you won’t be able to earn achievements this way).
Cities: Skylines for Xbox One isn’t perfect, far from it. Playing it on a PC is still the best option available, by far. I have still managed to clock nearly 20 hours with it over the first three days following my purchase, however. I can’t say a game isn’t fun when I do this, can I?
Reviewed on Xbox One.
Also available on: PC