City Life 2008 Edition Review

Ah city life, you can't beat it!

Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 25th February 2008

City Life 2008 Edition

  • Developer: Monte Cristo
  • Publisher: Ascaron
  • Release Date: 22nd February 2008

For fans of city management simulations, EA’s latest instalment in the SimCity series may have been a little disappointing. So you may be pleased to know that City Life 2008 Edition may go some way to easing your pain.

City Life 2008 Edition puts you in the role of a city planner that must manage every aspect of a fledgling city, helping it to develop into a bustling metropolis. The game features two modes of play, Free and Scenario! Both modes play exactly the same with the exception that the scenario mode requires you to achieve specific goals when building your city. Free mode as you expect is completely open ended.

The first decision you will have to make as city planner is the region your city will be located in, there are several different environments such as desert, barrier reef and temperate. While this may seem like a gimmick, where your city is set has an effect on how it develops, just as it would in the real world. How many spiralling metropolises are situated in mountainous areas? One nice thing about City Life 2008 Edition is that the game allows you to build your city in real world locations such as New York and Rio de Janeiro, this lets you really test your city planning skills, and lets you see if you can match what has been achieved for real.

During the building of your city in City Life there are several factors that you will have to take into consideration! These include things such as budget, traffic, employment, social groups, safety, healthcare, leisure activities and so on. While it may sound overwhelming it is all manageable from the games simple to use interface and the game offers a good challenge because of it, instead of just building a city and watching it develop.

As mentioned above, the game features several social groups that are all required in order for your city to grow. These are made up of “have not’s”, fringes, blue collar, radical chic, suits and elites. While attracting each social group is essential to building a successful city, one important factor has to be taken into account and that is they all have very different lifestyles, which will cause conflict if you have a mix of groups in one area. If left unsolved small conflict can easily escalate into civil unrest. To get around the problem you will have to divide your city into neighbourhoods, and while the game may not have separate residences for each of the social groups they will develop into the relevant housing depending on what businesses they are built next to, which are specific to each group. While it may sound over complicated it is really quite easy to get to grips with and you will soon see individual neighbourhoods developing nicely.

Employment plays an important part in City Life 2008 Edition, having successful businesses in your city means a greater source of revenue. This isn’t as simple as it may sound either, and you have to be careful not to build too many business plots. If a business fails to attract enough employees then it won’t raise its maximum amount of revenue meaning less funds in the city treasury, while this may seem like an insignificant problem if it fails to make a profit it then becomes a drain on the city, this means you need to plan new residential plots for each new business, although you will often find you need to build a higher ratio of residential to business plots.

As well as somewhere to live and work you will also have to provide your cities citizens with amenities such as places to buy there groceries, healthcare education and so on. All these services have a negative impact on your budget, so while building a state of the art hospital to ease your citizen concerns about healthcare may seem like a good idea, you need to make sure your city can afford to run it. The amount of an impact each service makes on your budget can be reduced by ensuring that each is being run and used as effectively as possible. For instance some grocery stores require employees from each of the core groups in order to run at 100% efficiency and if the balance isn’t right it will prove to be a bigger drain on your cities resources.

As your city grows you will require more space in order to expand, this can be bought by returning to the region screen, as when you first start your city, you are limited to building in one area of your selected region. This for me was both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing as it stops you from getting carried away and makes you utilise all the land of a game map. However your initial placement of plots is essential for each neighbourhood to develop properly, as I started building my city to close to the border of the space available I ran out of room for my fringe’s neighbourhood!

On the whole City Life 2008 Edition runs bug free, the only problem I encountered was when trying to build a fishing business that has to be placed in the water I was unable to do so, as I was told that it couldn’t be built on land despite the fact I had it placed on the coast. Even when I tried putting it in the middle of a body of water I was unable to build it.

Visually the game looks pretty good; some effects such as those used for fire don’t really fit with the look of the game and look like an after thought. Buildings look good but variation is a little limited. Although there are some nice features included such as being able to see reflections of buildings in water, individual look of each neighbourhood and switching to a first person view and walking around your city’s streets where you will be able to see rubbish bins, graffiti on the walls, mail boxes and so on.

Sound in the game is a little limited, you get the usual construction sounds when building and music playing throughout but other then that there’s not much although it has all been done well.

Overall City life 2008 should offer most a good challenge whilst staying accessible. The game should appeal to those who where disappointed with the simplistic approach of the latest SimCity game especially considering City Life’s budget price tag! All in all a solid city planning simulation!

Review Score: 7.8/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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