|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|
Building a virtual city from the ground up is no easy task, but that doesn't mean it has to be all tedium and no fun. Some of the game's similarities to SimCity are unavoidable, yet City Life is a slightly different animal. Players can choose from different geographic locations and layouts as a foundation for their society. From there, they will throw down a few basic buildings and grow their populations as they see fit. There are tons of options to explore and choose from in creating a thriving metropolis. Many buildings and features will be unlocked as players reach certain population and financial benchmarks. Though construction and management itself is engrossing, the primary gameplay mechanic unique to City Life hinges on six unique subcultures each hailing from different rungs on the socioeconomic ladder.
As the city grows, the population will shift and fluctuate to eventually include a different combination of have-nots, blue-collars, fringe, radical chic, suits, and elites. Blue-collars, fringe, and have-nots serve as the backbone for your city until it becomes large enough to attract and support the more intellectual, rich, and ultimately snootier classes. Each group has its own buildings, levels of need, likes and dislikes, and businesses. There will inevitably be some overlap between groups (in terms of jobs and needs) and this is where the situation tends to become volatile. Certain groups just don't get along, yet certain structures have to be constructed in close proximity to multiple groups in order to function. Careful attention has to be given to location and makeup of various neighborhoods. If tensions build and issues are left unattended, citizens from opposing classes in abutting neighborhoods will clash and eventually riot - causing havoc and even setting the city ablaze in the process. It's an interesting mechanic that will have players approaching the construction of their city far differently than they may have in the past with other simulation titles. Things tend to get quite interesting, when you throw the social tensions into the mix on top of the usual chaos that can come from managing a large city.
Visually, the cityscapes are quite impressive and they hold up well at varying levels of scrutiny. The standard, angled, birds-eye perspective gives a good overview of the structures and landscape (including some nice water effects in some maps). From this vantage point, small cars and other excellent little animation touches can be made out clearly. Moving in for a closer look opens up new levels of details with each layer of magnification. An excellent option includes the ability to jump right down to ground-level in a first-person perspective that lets you walk the streets and see the population face-to-face. Roaming around with this view affords players a very cool and completely different way to participate in their city.
In terms of new content, the 2008 Edition is a bit slim. There are 60 new buildings, 10 new maps, some additional scenarios, updated graphics, and an odd feature that allows players to import satellite maps. The 2008 Edition is certainly the version to look for, as it's the most complete collection. The free download upgrade for players who already own the main game saves this expansion from harsher criticism, because there just isn't enough new content to justify making people who've bought the game shell out more of their hard earned money. Fortunately, they won't have to. City Life is a quality simulator that can easily absorb hours upon hours of your time if you let it. If you're a fan of city-building sims, there's no excuse for letting this one pass you by.
CCC Staff Contributor