You’ve probably seen her at the bus stop, tapping her toes and checking her watch every five seconds, mumbling curses directed at the late bus driver, who isn’t actually late yet anyway. Her clones are in every town, and they all think they know what’s best for mass transit. Think you got the right stuff to do better? Cities in Motion isn’t the flashiest game out there, but this spiritual successor to Transportation Tycoon might give you a new appreciation for the complexities and ever-changing demands of public transportation.
Through my time with the game, which only allowed the tutorial and a sandbox mode in Vienna, I was able to get a good sense of how the game operates. The towns are pre-made, meaning you don’t really have any say which building goes where, or how streets are connected. You’re dropped into a living economy that has preset economic situations. It was my job to keep an eye on which parts required the needs to get from A to B.
Starting out, I was able to lay down bus routes, but eventually went on to create a tram system, metro lines, a water bus system and even helicopter stations for the filthy rich. Not all modes of transportation are created equal though. Nicer looking buses, for example, can hold less people and are prone to break down more frequently. Rather than just frivolously placing down routes and transport lines, I had to carefully scope out the city and make sure that needs were met, as the only way to make some money is if your popularity rises.
Making a bus line first requires you to place stops around the city. After that you connect those stops in a logical order with a bus line. The last part is picking out a particular vehicle that suits your needs, and all that’s left is to activate your line and watch as you hopefully profit from your new public transportation line. The neat thing is that every person in the city is clickable and provides some valuable information, including current job, home, if they own a car, where they’re headed and more. This turns out to be an invaluable tool when wanting to micromanage the needs of single citizens, that might further influence an entire area.
The idea is to get as many people using your modes of transportation as possible, which sometimes requires the need of advertising. Different forms of advertisement attract different people. For instance billboards are mostly looked at by tourists, the internet is most popular with students, and TV commercials are most popular with blue collar workers. It’s important to correlate these advertisements with the types of people you want to attract. Of course things can always go wrong, and you might end up spending slightly more than intended. That’s why loans are available, to get you out of that low money situation and into a lifetime of debt.
While the game controlled well, it does have a few glaring issues with the interface. The tutorial manages to explain the process of everything well, but leaves it up to players to find everything on their own. I spent a good 10 minutes looking for a simple button that was hidden away in a menu, when the menu and button could have easily been illuminated. It’s a minor gripe but one that left me confused for most of the tutorial, when I was supposed to be learning how the game works.
Though not available yet, Cities in Motion will span a century from the 1920’s all the way to 2020. The changes in decades will bring forth changes in technology, which will require players to also adapt with improved means of transportation.