Cities: Skylines II Review – Beauty Demands Performance
Eight years have passed since the birth of Cities: Skylines. For most of this time, the project of the Finnish studio Colossal Order headed the TOP of the most popular urban planning simulators. Even today, the game technically, with all the variety of additions, sets a very high bar for the genre, but it begins to yield to competitors visually. The sequel, Cities: Skylines II, is intended to solve the problem, which we will talk about in the review.
- Developer: Colossal Order Ltd.
- Publisher: Paradox Interactive
- Release date: October 24, 2023
If you do not take into account the attractive appearance of Cities: Skylines II, which is associated with some nuances and I will certainly mention them below, the sequel cannot offer players anything fundamentally new at the moment.
In general, I would refrain from making obviously unfavorable comparisons for now, since there is a huge gap between the first part, polished over the years with numerous additions and modifications, and the second part. Before us is practically an embryo that is just beginning its path to possible greatness. Fortunately, he has almost all the makings for that.
Before diving, future city leaders choose one of several types of land – an archipelago, a highland, a region swamped by lakes, or a plain with a coast, which, using the usual terraforming tool and with a strong desire, turns into a plateau surrounded by mountain ranges. A similar land is also provided for in the sequel – you can build some kind of provincial town there, hidden in the mountains.
The maps show not only a unique landscape but also different latitudes and different climates. Somewhere there are more minerals, somewhere the soil is more fertile and the winds are strong enough to provide the settlement with green energy, and in some places, you can make good money from oil production .
In a global sense, there is also less space for development in some places, and more in others, but even in order to properly fill, say, a map consisting of several small archipelagos, you will have to spend a huge amount of time even in sandbox mode .
Again, not all message options available in the game are possible everywhere. In the aforementioned lake region, for example, ships do not sail on the shallows, and in the mountains, they were too lazy to build tunnels for railway communication with the world.
In the map editor, as well as directly in the game – in the same section with the marking of zones for construction, players can choose between European and North American building styles. This also affects the visual design of roads and cars.
Next, you organize the settlement in a way that is completely familiar to residents of Cities: Skylines: you outline the territories with roads; in the main roads, water supply and sewerage are already organized, as are streetlights with road markings, which can then be changed.
Along the new road network, zones are marked for the construction of structures with various purposes. These are residential areas with varying degrees of density, shops, service facilities, offices, and leisure centers. You don’t choose which ones specifically, and you don’t know in advance whether a new bar will open soon on Preston Street or a sewing workshop will be built there.
In industrial zones, local production will open, and in specialized zones, players will be able to organize the extraction or processing of specific resources, many of which can be used for the needs of the city, while others will allow you to get rich through exports.
With windmills or less environmentally friendly power plants using fossil fuels, or perhaps by connecting to an external source through power line supports, you organize the energy supply of a populated area. With the help of pumping stations and treatment facilities, create a sewer system.
And so, block after block, shaking off construction debris, houses will begin to grow, and they will be filled with visiting families. Factories, offices, and shopping districts will provide new citizens with jobs, and you with taxes. Cars will begin to fuss, parks will come to life, and the first-night lights will come on.
A very conveniently organized system of information panels allows you to track the progress of all processes that require your close attention in order to effectively manage financial flows. It provides resource managers, statistics on the capacity of all city roads, and reports on the quality of services provided to the population, their general well-being, and the factors influencing it. Players immediately see how attractive their town is for tourists, why certain areas have high levels of noise pollution, and so on.
And even though there is nothing really new in Cities: Skylines II, everything that is old and time-tested works great, and now it also looks very decent. True, this candy will not be too tough for every system.
The sequel is not only very demanding on gaming hardware, but also extremely poorly optimized. If you want to enjoy a view of the city without stairs, torn shadows, and blurry textures, you will have to postpone this idea, because even with very modest settings, as soon as the city begins to grow, extremely unpleasant freezes appear in the game, and the fps counter loses all stability.
The main idea is this: Cities: Skylines II is a worthy, but still somewhat crude successor to the series, which is certainly destined for new pedestals in the TOP of city-planning simulators. If Colossal Order manages to do something with performance in the near future, the game promises to while away tens and hundreds of hours for you even at the current, vanilla stage of development.