City Life: World Edition Review

When Will Wright and Maxis exploded onto the city simulation scene back in 1989 with SimCity, the genre has since waned a little; reasons include disinterest and lack of games. It’s been close to 4 years since SimCity 4 jumped onto shelves, but French developer Monte Cristo took it upon themselves to continue expanding the genre. Their first city simulation game, City Life, was released back in May 2006 and they have since continued to refine the game; the most recent addition is City Life: World Edition. Combining several enhancements over its predecessor, World Edition largely plays like your standard city simulation. Tack on a hundred new buildings and a revamped city editor and you got a relatively decent game. If you own City Life, there’s really not a lot of incentive to pick up World Life unless you really enjoyed the game or enjoy city simulations in general.

The game’s presentation is decent. After a mind-boggling long install time, you’re presented with the game’s tutorial. Unlike just about every other game I’ve played, the tutorial does not pursue a hands-on approach; instead it’s more of a textbook learning session. The hints are short and are paired up with low-resolution videos, but they leave out a lot of information. Unfortunately, you will go through some trial and error as you progress through the game and this can turn some players off. Hints do pop up in-game, but they don’t really help either since they’re vague. I was pretty frustrated when I spent some time trying to keep the 6 different groups of citizens happy and then all of a sudden, they all leave because of pollution or high crime rates, and I had no idea why.

One of the game’s high points is the visuals and in-game performance. Like I said, the game takes a while to install, so you would think the game will perform fairly average. Instead, the game is very optimized. Jack the visuals on high and you got yourself a city any mayor would be proud of. The game features a more robust day/night system (dawn, day, dusk and night) but they all have to be manually selected. Nonetheless, you get plenty of nifty features; building reflections in the water, appropriate shadowing for every object, a huge zoom scope that’ll bring you up close and personal with your citizens and plenty of intrigue building details. One thing I really liked was how the zooming aspect was done. It’s like Supreme Commander, where your zoom is based on where your mouse pointer is rather than what’s centered.

The game is relatively straightforward, and after you complete a scenario or two you probably will feel either compelled to finish them all, or that’s it. You start off as a mayor of a new city and it’s your job to build it from the ground up. It starts you off with your town hall, which acts as your center. Build different residence, commercial, industrial and businesses around the place and you got a blooming city on the rise. One pretty neat addition is when you choose a building to create, a little radial dial appears on the right which tells what group of people will benefit from it and if the area is suitable for inhabitance. One thing I found somewhat annoying was that some businesses needed more than one type of citizens to work in. While that seems perfectly feasible in real-life, it’s somewhat handled hastily in the game. Putting down some early businesses in attempt to attract some new folks may lead to abandonment since you won’t have enough money or the right amount of citizens to operate the businesses.

One of the newer aspects is the 6 different citizen types I mentioned earlier; the Elites, Suits, Radical Chics, Fringe, Blue Collars and Have-Nots. At first, you start out with only Blue Collars and Fringe citizens. These folks handle the generic jobs and you have to up the ante to attract the higher ups, namely the Elites and Chic. It’s very much like herding sheep; if you place two opposing groups together, it’ll cause conflict and may deter others away. For example, Elites tend to not avoid Blue Collars but most groups won’t appreciate the Have-Nots lingering around.

The game surprisingly has very little sound effects. When you zoom in to check out the population, you would expect to hear cars rolling by or children laughing. Instead, the only sound you get is just construction or clicking on your interface. On the bright side, the music is pretty pleasant and also you can import your own MP3s.

Overall, the game is largely hit or miss. You’re either going to appreciate the city building and wide range of choices to create your utopia, or be turned off by it’s uninformative tutorial and trial and error tactics. While World Edition is a decent city simulation title, it has little replay value — unless you want to make buildings yourself. The game also doesn’t really have the appeal of ‘buy me’ if you already own City Life. If you don’t own City Life and you’re looking for a decent city simulator that’s not the normal Sim City franchise, then by all means pick this up.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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