If you took the script for Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and rewrote it with buses, trams and helicopters, you’d have Cities in Motion. Provided, that is, you chucked the film script out of the window and spent months programming a transport simulation instead. This effort from Paradox is very much Transport Tycoon by another name, rewritten for contemporary times.
Name of the game
The idea behind Cities In Motion is to construct an efficient transport network, including underground trains and water buses to serve a number of big European cities, in an extensive campaign which stretches from 1930s Berlin up to the year 2020. Your goals are set by the mayor of the each town, along with additional missions from the likes of the bishop who wants a tram line built out to his church to increase the flock.
Cities in Motion is an engaging mix of shrewd route-planning and budgeting, wrapped in a visually pleasant 3D environment. Potentially profitable routes must be picked out, exploiting demographics such as hooking up blue collar workers’ housing estates with factories. Busy city centre roads have to be skirted around, lest your buses risk being delayed by traffic jams. Money management involves balancing ticket prices and wages against the prevailing economy, in a fiscal model which has some depth but isn’t overly complicated.
So far, so good – but the sim falls down somewhat in the interface stakes. Long, clunky lists make it trickier than it ought to be to spot problem routes . A small mini-map crammed with data is less than optimal. More problematically, designing routes and placing track pieces can be unnecessarily fiddly.
We also experienced some considerable slowdown in frame rates at times, which was worrying. The graphics are fairly tasty, but they really shouldn’t be troubling our main gaming PC.
Despite its flaws – and something of a tough initial learning curve – after you’ve had a chance to acclimatise yourself to the interface, Cities in Motion is an enjoyable Tycoon-style sim.
Company: Paradox Interactive
Much like the last train home, this is one sim transport buffs would do well to catch, particularly given the budget ticket price - even if a few annoying issues with the interface and graphics slowdown leave some pesky leaves on the rails.