Cities: Skylines – Review
Follow Genre: City-builder
Developer: Colossal Order
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Platforms: PC
Tested on: PC

Cities: Skylines – Review

Site Score
Good: Addictive, impressive map size, easy controls make for a fluid gameplay experience
Bad: Some elements of the game feel a little too similar compared to other games in the genre
User Score
(3 votes)
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Rating: 8.7/10 (3 votes cast)

It has been a while since we’ve had a real good city-building game. 2003 had the release of SimCity 4 by Maxis. Then later in 2013 the next iteration in that series was plagued by a lot of issues, specifically during launch. Although it had a lot of cool things, the problems outweighed those, especially the small website. Developer Colossal Order, also known from series such as Cities In Motion, must have felt the gaming community’s need for another great city-builder. Does Cities: Skylines fare better?

Cities- Skylines


It’s quite typical for games within the city-building genre to not offer much of a story. It’s that kind of a game where you get to make up your own story. You do get guided as you go along starting out as a small town with a couple of hundred citizens all the way up to a metropolis with hundreds of thousands of citizens. There’s also a little Twitter-like element built into the game which attempts to connect you as a player to your citizens, informing you of both positive and negative events.


In Cities: Skylines, it’s hard to not feel impressed when having built a large city and then zooming out on the map and looking over what you’ve achieved. The different styles of buildings and colour pallet used throughout make for quite a pleasant experience. When zooming into busy streets however you’ll notice the blur effect which was used to cover up the lack of detail. While it’s annoying at first, you’ll soon find out why that is. There’s a fairly large area in which you start to build but pretty soon you can buy additional sections and the total area which you can buy is pretty damn large. Altogether, the game looks pleasing and runs very well, even on older machines and mobile GPU’s.



The importance of a good soundtrack in a game is often understated. Especially in games where there’s not much of a story, the soundtrack seems to take an even more important role. It serves the purpose of keeping the player immersed into the game and creating a certain atmosphere. Cities: Skylines’ soundtrack sound exactly that. Also there are plenty of ambient sounds, noises and effects to make your city come alive: from the sirens of the ambulances racing around to the buzz which comes from busy streets.


As is to be expected with a game like this, in Cities: Skylines your goal is to build a city. What kind of a city is totally up to you. There is no online mode to be found, very contrary to SimCity’s always online requirement. Basically there’s only one game mode: an endless “do-whatever-you-want”. You start off with a plot of land and a highway connection. From there on, it’s up to you to get your town to grow into a city. There are three fundamental types of zones: residential, commercial and industrial. You can designate where you want these zones to be. Of course they have to be besides a road. There we get to maybe the most important part of the game: roads and traffic management. There are four types of roads you can build: one-lane, two-lane, 3-lane and highways. Each of these types comes in a bunch of varieties from one-way versions to versions which are nicely decorated with trees. The game helps you building these roads by offering you a bunch of tools where one tool helps you building straight roads where another tool helps you build curvy roads.


So we’ve built roads and we’ve designated some zones, there’s obviously a lot more that comes into play when building a city. Soon it’s time to take care of all public services. You are in charge of providing healthcare, security and safety to the people that live in your city. That is done by building hospitals, fire stations and police stations. Soon your citizens will also require schooling, garbage management and recreations so you can also build things like high-schools, parks and monuments. There are lots of different service buildings you can build and in that sense the game takes it slow, offering you a new set of buildings as your city grows.

Let’s not forget the most basic needs of your city: water and electricity. You’ll be required to lay plumbing for running water and waste. You’ll be required to get electricity to your people, it’s enough for power cables to reach the edge of a populated area, from there on it spreads automatically. Getting water is simple enough but for electricity you have bunch of options with one being more “green” than the other. The most spectacular way though is probably to build a hydroelectric dam. You’ll need a river with a strong enough current but the spectacular thing happens when you actually put the dam down. Cities: Skylines features a dynamic water system so when you’re not careful, you can actually flood your entire city.


Also important is a way to get your citizens a means of transportation, if you force everyone to use their car the amount of traffic will soon become unmanageable. Therefore you can build bus depots, subway stations (and tunnels) and train stations (and tracks). Then you’ll have to manually designate specific lines by adding stops, the system will feel very familiar when you’ve played Cities In Motion. For your industry you can also build a port and of course there’s also a port for tourists and an airport which you unlock last. If you’ve gone through all of the previous phases, you’ll unlock additional zoning options: high-density residential, high-density commercial and offices. When you start assigning these types of zones, you’ll truly get the feeling you’re building a metropolis.

The whole system works like a charm and keeps you engaged. You’ll have to monitor traffic and act when there are problems as it will lead to fire trucks not reaching the fires on time and ambulances not reaching their patients. Deeper customization of different zones is also possible thanks to a district system where you can assign different policies to different districts. Policies include a ban on heavy traffic, allowing the recreational use of marihuana and a ban on pets. Industrial zones can be assigned a specific specialization too, such as forestry, oil, mineral or farming industry. Some aspects do feel as they were derived from SimCity without much effort to add something else such as the special views, e.g. the one on which you can see which part of the city doesn’t have access to water or electricity.


The thing that excites me the most in Cities: Skylines though is the way it’s integrated with Steam. You’ll have access to Steam Cloud for syncing your save games and Steam Workshop. The game has only been around for a couple of weeks now but already the Workshop is filled up with tons of exiting mods adding things like custom intersections, new building and even features such as an auto-bulldoze abandoned building one. The game itself also features an asset editor and map editor on which you can spend hours if you so desire so. Then you can also share that map with the rest of the world. This all resulted in a great community offering all kinds of additions to the game.


Cities: Skylines is simply the best city-building game you can get right now. The great community, mod-support, large map-size and ease-of-use are what make this game stand out. It could’ve used some more originality on some fronts though as some elements of the game feel like they were quite shamelessly taken from SimCity. All-in-all a great game for fans of the genre but also for people willing to try something else than the average AAA-title.




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Rating: 8.7/10 (3 votes cast)
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Cities: Skylines - Review, 8.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

I'm currently studying software-development. My main hobbies are gaming (software/hardware) and music (jazz saxophone player). I game primarily on PC (and also love building them) but also play on PS3, iOS and Android.

1 Comment

  1. […] Back in 2015, Paradox allowed us to try out Cities: Skylines, which proved to be one of the best current gen city building games on the market. We can imagine that many of our readers yearn back to the days when the original tycoon games allowed us to build enormous cities, albeit thanks to the industry we created. Then there was also SimCity. SimCity was more of a city builder, as it focused more on the city building, rather than industry alone, and before you knew it, you had a true metropolis on your hands, that could be pestered by disasters, disease, power outages and so on, which made it a bit more than just playing with digital LEGOs. Nonetheless, for years we haven’t had a decent game, and this is where Paradox brought change by releasing Cities: Skylines upon the gaming community. Now, two years later we get to dive into the ported Xbox One version to see how this game fares on console. A city can easily rise and fall, but games can too. If you’d rather learn more about the PC version, you can always check out our original review by clicking here. […]

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