|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Monte Cristo||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Paradox Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July. 15, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
For years, SimCity has languished atop its mighty throne as the master of the universe of city creating simulations. Will Wright's goliath runaway franchise had little competition until Monte Cristo's City Life gave it a run for its money in 2006. The original City Life brought some interesting concepts and socioeconomic gameplay mechanics to the table and forced players to strategize in new ways while forming their civilizations. Thinking outside of the box makes for some pleasant surprises.
The younger upstart sim is back this year with a meager list of bonus features in City Life 2008 Edition. This standalone expansion includes updates from last year's World Edition along with a few additional maps, buildings, and other features. A disappointing lack of substantial changes in the content department might give pause to those who've already shelled out the cash for an earlier version. Fortunately, anyone who's purchased the retail boxed version of City Life can download the 2008 Edition upgrade for free, so there's no reason to forego the upgrade if you picked up the original and enjoyed its offerings. The 2008 Edition is well worth a shot for anyone who's new to the series. It's a good choice for SimCity fans seeking a slightly different simulation flavor.
There's no real story to speak of in City Life. The enjoyment derived from the game comes primarily from planting the seeds of a new population, watching it grow steadily, and carefully managing it along a path of continual improvement. The city sort of develops a story or history of its own as gameplay progresses. Fires will break out; crime will develop; and citizens will clash. There are plenty of interesting events to contend with, even though the game doesn't explicitly spell out any plot.
The mildly steep learning curve only takes a short time to overcome, and then it's possible to easily find a steady rhythm between plateaus where income is steady and population booms that grow the city while causing temporary financial strain on its infrastructure. The game is not quite as tough as some of the SimCity titles; it's relatively easy to keep the budget in the green. The focus is on social growth as much as it is on economic growth. Micromanagement is always a possibility for those who are into that sort of thing. The game features budget sheets, income and expenditure lists, and other important reports on the city's needs and deficiencies, but players are not forced to utilize all these features and dig through reams of minutia if they don't choose to.