No matter how many times Maxis may try to improve their base product, the fact of the matter is SimCity was a huge disappointment. With always-online requirements, a limited scope, and some confounding new features, last year's simulation experience fell well short of fan expectations.
However, the failures of SimCity may have opened up an opportunity for another franchise/title to take its place. At least, that's what Colossal Order hopes their latest game, Cities: Skylines, can do when it launches next year.
While most will recognize the Cities name for its infrastructure and road-building Cities in Motion franchise, Colossal reveals to Eurogamer that they want to chart a new path with Cities: Skylines. Specifically, they want to give players the tools to transform a 36 square kilometer space into a sprawling city. Yes, you read that right: 36 square kilometers.
Neither Colossal nor publisher Paradox Interactive is shying away from its blatant attempt to steal away SimCity fans either; in fact, CEO Mariina Halikainen admits that SimCity left a big gap for them to swoop in. Cities: Skyline's marketing has also tried to make the game's aims apparent by specifically citing SimCity's flaws like online-only play.
Even the game's development is coming from a completely different perspective than SimCity. Maxis' team was extremely large, but Colossal's is much smaller.
"Skylines is lighter than Cities in Motion, to appeal to a wider audience. We're working hard to make an interactive tutorial, so less experienced players can master it, and the UI should be much easier to use and to understand."
They also want to take gamer feedback into account even before launch, while also supporting a wealth of mods after. By all accounts, Cities: Skylines is the modern city simulation title SimCity fans were looking for, only it's from a completely different team.
Right now, though, the game does look very basic, and therefore it won't feel as sophisticated or as refined as past SimCity titles. Mods will go a long ways towards fulfilling that goal, but players should know that this is very much a work in progress. Granted, this is one that has a lot of potential, but is nonetheless going to need some love from gamers to make it all the way.
What do you think of Cities: Skylines? Does it sound like a game you might be interested in playing?
Cities: Skylines is currently targeting a release in the first half of 2015 on PC.