As a new father to a beautiful daughter I have a different life now compared to many years ago when I could spend hours crafting cities and economies in various games. My favourites franchises were Sim City, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Railroad Tycoon, and then more recently Cities in Motion. You get the picture.
Fatherhood brings with it opportunities to rediscover gaming, however. When my daughter is asleep for example. I can’t go outside and I dislike what’s on TV at the moment, so I am delighted to be able to spend a brief moment in-game.
However, fatherhood also brings challenges. I don’t want a game that I can’t put down in an instant so I can soothe the baby. I also need a game that I can play whilst bouncing the baby on my knee and trying to stop her from getting her sticky fingers all over the keyboard. Gaming has become a much more casual affair – I want escapism, fun, quick results and nothing too mentally draining.
Sim City (2013)
Big fan of the franchise and waited a couple of weeks after release to finally give in to my urge to buy it. Refused to pay for the top package – I have a family to think about now! Despite the high price I think it’s worth it. Maxis/EA have done a sterling job. However, what niggles me is:
- I don’t like how it seems to make cities rely on other cities in the region. Sim City 4 didn’t make enough of regions, but I worry that they’ve over-compensated in this edition. I don’t have time to nurture regions, I just want to pick up and play a city.
- Online is a massive element of the game. Yet I have no friends – that play Sim City anyway. I don’t want to play with a stranger who is probably a kid with hours to kill and capable of handing my ass to me on a platter – not that Sim City is competitive of course, but I don’t want to have my pride hurt.
- Loading time (probably due to online requirement) can be hit and miss. My gaming time is valuable and short.
- Transport is weak. Street cars and buses seem to be the limit at the moment. I liked how Sim City 4 handled traffic with it’s Rush Hour expansion. I also miss the on-road arrows from Rush Hour that showed me where everyone was coming from and going to – I don’t see an option for that in the new edition.
The list of things I like about Sim City is far longer. Awesome game, but ultimately more for the player with hours to burn and able to really get stuck in. When you’ve got a wife/partner asking you to help with something every ten minutes you don’t want to be in the middle of something in-game and have to pull yourself away. Even as I write this I have been summoned a couple of times to do my domestic duties. Duty first.
Cities in Motion 2
it’s cheaper for a start.
You don’t build your city – you focus on getting people around it. I like that because it’s instantly more casual, though never easy to pull away from a half-built metro system.
Compared to Sim City the transportation ‘system’ is much better – as you would expect. But it’s not just ‘as expected because it’s a transport game’, it’s so much better I have found myself enjoying it more than I do the entire Sim City game. Some claim.
There are downsides, however:
- When you’ve got a baby on your knee the last thing you want is the need to press W, A, S and D to move your camera around. There’s no auto-panning at the edge of the screen and no way that I have found to click, hold and drag the camera around (Black & White was good for this… damn I miss that game!)
- The method of connecting tram lines and metro sections is annoying. I think I finally got the hang of it, but my god what a fiddly bit of interaction.
- Adding stops to a line can sometimes go wrong – I don’t know what happens, but I have to wipe the whole lot of stops and start again.
- I don’t really get timetables and it looks like too much hard work.
- The interface buttons and controls are great, but need some work in some areas. I still find myself hovering over things, but that can be a sign of age!
Despite the niggles I have with CiM2, I much prefer it to Sim City. I can put it down and pick it up more easily.
Depends on what you’re looking for. Long-form game with full control? Sim City. Something you can drop in to for a bit of fun without needing to be online and cheaper to justify to your wife? Cities in Motion 2. It’s just got a better and more simple fun to it.