The original City Life distinguished itself from other town management games with its class structure. From the Have-nots to the Elites, each neighbourhood had to be delicately balanced, keeping the rich and the poor apart to prevent social unrest, while providing adequately for all. And now it’s back, repackaged with a collection of new scenarios.
In a way familiar to anyone who’s played SimCity, you begin with a plot of land, and are tasked with creating a successful and socially calm metropolis. While much is recognisable - building residential zones and commercial areas, along with amenities - you’re immediately challenged by the influence of social conflict. In this world the rich and the poor do not get along - to the point of violence and, eventually, rioting.
Eighteen new scenarios add to the original 22, all unlocked from the beginning. These range across difficulty levels, with some much tougher environments and challenges on offer. Although, beyond the request of one that you keep out of the way of the local cannibals, they do tend to lack a sense of imagination.
There is a smattering of new buildings, and some tweaks, but it’s hard to shake the feeling this is a two-year-old game being sold as new. A sequel would have been nice by now, and certainly the last couple of years should have been time to create an interactive tutorial, explaining the confusing class structure.
SimCity 4 is still a superior, if more complex, city management sim. But at less than full price, CL offers a vast amount of detail, a hefty editor and a unique approach to social design. The 32 different landscape styles feel generous, and while the graphics are now dating, zooming all the way into your city to watch the crowds pootling about in their vans remains cute. It’s starting to age, but there’s still plenty to recommend in this tycoon-’em-up.
Feb 12, 2008