Cities in Motion 2 Review

Kevin Mitchell on April 23, 2013

Without proper mass transportation options, cities would be unable to grow in size and population. Imagine the 8.3 million residents living in New York City trying to get around the city without the extensive bus and subway systems in place. The city would essentially shut down and it would cease to be “The City That Never Sleeps.” Your job in Cities in Motion 2 is to develop and implement a complete urban mass transit system for a multitude of cities in desperate need of improvement in order to grow and flourish.

Ditching the colorful visual style and alternating timeline from the original, Cities in Motion 2 features realistic looking cityscapes packed with small details, such as swaying trees, waves crashing along the shoreline and reflective building windows that look beautiful during sunset. As you zoom in closer – and you can literally zoom in between two buildings, you will hear the rustling sounds of being in the heart of a city. Individual buildings can be clicked on, informing you on whether or not it is covered by any transit lines, as well as given you information about the establishment.

Things won’t be as easy as plopping down a bus depot or subway station, leaning back in your office chair and watching your “cims” (clever) go on with their lives. At the start of a scenario, cities are devoid of life with a minimum amount of cims roaming around and cars driving through the streets. Featuring a complete day and night cycle, expect to see heavier traffic during the morning and evening rush hours and lighter traffic throughout midday.

The cities evolve dynamically depending on what areas have adequate mass transit options, as well as excellent traffic flow. It’s a real treat to see how the once empty city begins to evolve and thrive with cars and people filling the streets. Roads can be completely demolished and rebuilt as you please, although an upgrade option would have been a nice addition instead of having to demolish everything first. An assortment of colored charts and overlays play an important factor when deciding where to place the various mass transit options. Setting up a system allowing the cims to move efficiently from “where they live” to “where they work” is the key to a successful city. You may have the most efficient transit schedule, but if it doesn’t get people where they have to go, it is essentially useless. Don’t forget about the weekends too. People need to be able to travel to some “fun” places as well.

The first step in creating my sprawling bus system required placing a bus depot in the heart of the city. The depot would prove to be useless until I added places for the busses to stop, so that was next on my agenda. The massive amount of road options, allow for stops can be placed on either side of the road, but if the city is going to rely on busses, you may want to think about replacing the standard roads with ones that include a bus only lane – at least on the busier roads. Lines or routes must be created connecting a starting point (the bus depot) and as many or as few of the stops as desired. Feel free to create an express line to ensure those furthest away reach their destination in a timely fashion and a local line with multiple stops closer to the center of the city.

Timetables can be set allowing for more service vehicles to be in use during peak (rush hour) travel times and less during the middle of the day. Establishing zones allows for price variations for fares, allowing for cheaper prices for shorter trips and more expensive tickets for longer commutes. The effective range for each stop is readily displayed; helping to ensure the transit system covers the maximum amount of area with minimal overlap. While I was using the bus system as an example, the same process applies to each of the mass transit options: busses, trams, trolleys, metro (subways) and water buses (ferries).

Trams and subways require additional tracks to be built, proving to be a much more difficult task than establishing a network of buses – with subways being the most difficult. I’ve found that placing tram tracks down the center of road dividers allows for both car traffic and the trams to work together efficiently. In practice, this works for straight roads, but when trying to connect two pieces of track to form a curve, I was met with some hardship. For obvious reasons, tracks can’t have sharp turns, which may require city blocks to be rebuilt if you indeed on using a tram system.

There are only a handful of campaign levels requiring various objectives to be met, such as covering a set percentage of the city with new transit options before moving on to the next scenario. The included Sandbox mode allows players to mess around in a city with an unlimited amount of cash, but without the constraints of having objectives. Cities in Motion 2 features an intriguing cooperative mode that alleviates the slower pace of playing the game alone, by allowing up to six players to work cooperatively to build the ultimate transit system. If you are adventurous, the map editor allows you to setup your own city, but be warned the in-game menu system can be quite clumsy.

Simply Put

Cities in Motion 2 has expanded upon the core gameplay mechanics from the original, becoming a dream game for anyone that loves to micro manage – especially considering the massive maps you have to work with. The learning curve may be on the higher side and the tutorial doesn’t do a great job at showing you where the transit system should be set up, but Cities in Motion 2 still provides hours of entertainment and meticulous planning. The occasional bug does hamper the otherwise smooth experience (outside of the clumsy menu system), such as not being able to select buildings, requiring them to be demolished and rebuilt, but a more of a nuisance than a game breaking.

Note: Cities in Motion 2 was reviewed on the PC. A copy of the game was provided by the publisher.

Cities in Motion 2

Cities in Motion 2 6.5
Realistic dynamically evolving cities
Turning lanes and bus lanes. Take note Maxis.
Only 3 vehicles for each transit type. Incoming DLC?
Building roads can be troublesome