Cities in Motion puts you into the management seat (rather than the driving seat) of a city’s public transport system. Build bus stops, tram shelters, metro stations, boat docks and helicopter pads; plan lines; buy vehicles and shuttle commuters to their destinations. Your city grows and changes over time, from 1920 when you have access to old style jalopies to 2020 when modern buildings soar through the skies. Watch people hop aboard and enjoy your rides!
Playability: Obstacle course
Cities in Motion is not easy game to play. Even after spending a good deal of hours, days, weeks and months into the game, I am still struggling with the basic mechanics of transport management. The rulebook that governs Cities in Motion is obscure and not well explained at all. This is a game where you need to open up the manual to just complete a tutorial! Not a good start I thought… Setting up an underground system is a mess. Metro lines are a jumble of arbitrary rules and non-connecting underground, underground to ground and elevated tracks and stations. I was annoyed, and judging from the forums, I wasn’t the only one. It is very difficult to actually connect metro tracks together and to connect tracks to stations, which means that most of the time the old video gamer will be playing with buses, trams, boats and helicopters instead. It was a breeze to build bus lines to pick up workers, students, retirees and tourists.
Annoyance: Nagging girlfriend
It is difficult to turn handsome profits in Cities in Motion. A lot of time is spent tweaking ticket prices for buses, trams and all sorts of vehicles, checking wages for drivers, mechanics and other staff, and budgeting for advertising campaigns. Micromanagement is usually not the forte of the old video gamer, especially after a day of micromanaging colleagues in the real world… The economy of Cities in Motion goes in cycles of boom and bust. You’ll have to keep an eye on interest rates, loans, unemployment and so on. Small profit margins, huge investment requirements… a recipe for a stressful day at work… Making a few hundred dollars or euros a month is a grind in Cities in Motion, which leaves less time for just kicking back and observing your trams and buses run around, an area where the game finally shines! Soon customers start to complain, vehicles break down and the economy goes down the drain… and all of that on “easy” mode! I wish the game would cut me some slack to enjoy my toys a little more!
Beauty: Toy buses and trams
The Cities in Motion graphics engine is not the most vivid in town (get it?), but it does a fine job of recreating the gritty feel of the big city. Later in the game, screens get crowded with people and vehicles zooming in all directions, which means that older machines will struggle to keep animations fluid. The Map Editor is a great tool to create the city of your dreams, be it real or imaginary. And a small but dedicated group of followers offers a variety of home designed maps from Brasilia to Copenhagen. Spelling is an occasional problem in Cities in Motion. It is a shame that the finishings are not quite up to standards. Some voiceover would have been nice, and might have provided a bit of warmth over the cold electric background music.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: Amusing 6/10
Cities in Motion is from the land that brought us Nokia and Angry Birds. The game attempts to follow in the footsteps of its legendary predecessors in the transport management genre, but with a definite local oddball je ne sais quoi flavor… Cities in Motion has some rough unpolished edges, coupled with a relative difficulty even on easy mode for old video gamers. But get beyond the initial uphill tutorial and you’ll be playing with buses and trams like a kid again!