Cities in Motion


posted 1/12/2011 by Tom Bitterman
other articles by Tom Bitterman
One Page Platforms: PC
They do things differently in Europe.  Turns out everybody over there doesn't have their own car.  Many people take (gasp) public transportation to get from place to place.  What's next, socialized healthcare?

Despite initial feelings of confusion and distaste, it turns out that setting up a public transit system for a city is an interesting exercise in decision-making under constraint – in other words, a game.  “Cities in Motion” (CiM) is a game very much in the SimCity/Transportation Tycoon mold.  The player is presented with a limited resource (money), some obstacles (the city itself, with its buildings and roads and other limits on construction) and some goals (people need to get from place to place, the company needs to make money), and is expected to find some way to make this little world work.

CiM is no exception to this pattern.  You are cast as a transit-troubleshooter, called into city after city in order to fix the issues they are having with their current transit system.  Each scenario takes place in a storied European city – Amsterdam, Berlin, Helsinki and Vienna to date, with more certainly to come.  Each city has some of the same problems (make money) and each has some unique challenges (e.g. Amsterdam's canals make laying out surface routes a challenge).  The premise of fixing up famous cities is a nice touch, helping the player feel immersed in the setting.

Once the game starts the player is presented with a colorful city interface that runs along in real time.  Time can be sped up, slowed or stopped but the real point is to set things up so they can run more or less on their own, while the player only intervenes when important decisions need to be made.

To this end the game displays important information in a graphical manner, right on the map.  For example, it is easy to see whether people are using a given bus route by looking at the stops and seeing whether the little people are lining up there.  The city view is fun to watch and provides an adequate amount of information when things are going well.

When things aren't going well the player can call for different overlays to be applied to the city.  Overlays highlight important demographic information such as where blue-collar citizens live, or where tourists like to visit.  This information can be invaluable when planning new routes or modifying existing routes to meet demand.
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