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City Life 2008 Edition - PC - Review

City Life 2008 is a combination of City Life and an expansion edition. The expansion brings new scenarios and maps to the game. As in City Life, the goal is to design the ultimate city around the interesting concept of social classes. This feature is still the same, and actually most of this expansion is exactly the same as the original game.  The only new additions are the new scenarios and buildings.  The editor has been upgraded to allow the addition of real maps and the graphics have been tweaked a bit, but that’s really about all that’s new.

There are two main modes of play, campaign and sandbox. However, the campaign scenarios aren’t very tightly goal-oriented.  While there are certain criteria to meet, these goals aren’t very clear at first. It’s almost like playing in the free-play mode with just a few “suggestions” as goals. The free-play mode is of course, free-play. Design away, live free!

There is also a tutorial, but this is in name only.  I have to say that this is the worst tutorial I’ve ever seen, and I don’t know why they even bothered adding it. It’s just a series of gameplay tips, which should have been offered as tips during the gameplay.  In fact, there is a video component of this tutorial that runs in the bottom right of the screen, where it is helpful during gameplay as a tip pop-up sort of thing. For players who want to know the real deal on the gameplay mechanics, the online manual is a much better method of instruction. It is a very good manual and offers a nicely detailed “first move” type of description.

As mentioned, City Life 2008 incorporates the interesting concept of social classes into the general planning aspect of the game. There are six classes, each of which reflects rigid and typed cultures of money and class. Wealth and art, poverty and conservatism are some of the characteristics of these classes. These classes can only comingle with certain other classes; otherwise class tension arises and if not resolved, will soon erupt into riots and street battles. This lends a considerable strategic element to the game, as most businesses either require just one type of class, or a mixture of classes.  As these classes often have to live separately from each other, the placement of these businesses can be a complex process.

While this cultural feature does add strategic depth, it isn’t an avenue I personally enjoy. I don’t like to have my citizens rioting and fighting each other every few minutes. Others may have different opinions.

Building the cities is fun and as the interface is easy to use and understand, there is minimal frustration during the building process. There is also a good amount of information displayed for each main menu item when the items are chosen. Sometimes there is a lag or delay in the display and removal of these menus, though, which can be a little annoying. Laying out the cities is very easy and the roads are automatically appended around the structures. There is a deletion icon, but no “undo” function that I ever found, a feature that should be present.

Each map offers a short description of the historical background of the location. This is interesting reading, but really doesn’t have anything to do with the city that is actually built.  They all look the same, essentially, and the historical background doesn’t really change the game’s strategy any that I could tell.

Everything looks good! Players can play from afar, or zoom in and see everyone walking around. The neighborhoods are conveniently color-coded to reflect their cultural makeup. The music is also nice, but there aren’t a whole lot of sound effects. A city this size needs more noise!

City Life 2008 is an engaging simulation and will offer many hours of enjoyment to city sim fans. City Life 2008 is the edition to get if players don’t own the original, as it does offer gameplay tweaks and new scenarios.  The small amount of new content, though, precludes purchase on the basis of adding to the original. City Life 2008 is just as good as the original and a little better. It is a fine choice for players new to the series. However, players considering this as just an expansion may want to wait until the next expansion or new edition.

Review Scoring Details for City Life 2008 Edition

Gameplay: 7
This game is pretty much the same as the original.  That was fun, this is fun, too. Planning and building is easy and engaging.

Graphics: 7
The city looks good and so do the characters on zoom. It’s fun to walk around at street level.

Sound: 6
The music is nice, but there aren’t many sound effects.

Difficulty: Medium
The gameplay isn’t very difficult. There is a good and informative manual available, but in the download version is only available electronically. The interface is smooth and intuitive.

Concept: 6
There isn’t anything really new in this edition besides new scenarios and new buildings. It is well-presented, though.

Overall: 7
This edition of City Life is a good city simulation and it compares well to the Sim City series. The content is solid and the gameplay fun, and the inclusion of social strategy planning is innovative.  However, for an expansion, there isn’t a whole lot new or different. Best for players who don’t already have the original.

 

Good

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