Cities in Motion Preview (PC)

Public transport gets a lot of bad press here in the UK. Trains getting cancelled, the overcrowded Underground, buses arriving late - there is most certainly not a single person in Britain who hasn't moaned about the state of the system at some point - although if we weren't moaning about public transport, we'd find something else to witter about instead!

With this in mind, perhaps it would be a good idea to give everyone a copy of the upcoming Cities in Motion, and see how well they can handle managing public transport. Developed by finnish outfit Colossal Order Ltd, Cities in Motion puts you in charge of the buses, trams and trains, with even a side-order of boats and helicopters. Believe us - this is one tough ride, as the in-game citizens will moan just as much as we do in real life!

This city will look like Spaghetti Junction once we're through with it

Cities in Motion is far simpler than it first appears. Players have access to a tight budget with which to build stops, tracks and vehicles. There are streams of statistics to work your way through, and plenty of ratings to keep watch over, allowing you to make sure the needs of your commuters are satisfied.

A length but informative tutorial kicks things off, teaching the various roles you'll face. Laying down bus stops and connecting them into a fully flowing line, then laying track either above or underground, and building the necessary stations for your punters to stand around at. Eventually it all becomes relatively easy to navigate, although whether you'll complete the challenges is an entirely different matter.

Our preview of the game featured one of the available cities, Vienna - the final build will also include Berlin, Amsterdam and Helsinki. An option of the timeframe is given, with each different decade offering the types of transport from that era. We opted to tackle the later 60's first, where the Metro is the latest form of transport.

Our main challenge here is to get the city of Vienna up to speed with the current transport trend, although it's immediately noticeable that no real final objective is given - rather, you're given multiple missions over time, and eventually the game will end once all these are accomplished. It would perhaps be nice if we could see how far through the scenario we are, but for now we're happy to potter along unawares.

The first big task is to introduce the Metro system into the city. Looking over the area, it's not difficult to see why the Mayor is so keen to get this new line up and running - all the tram and bus stops are flooded with angry people, and the current public transport just cannot cope. A Metro line from the college to student housing is required, and we decide to opt for the underground approach.

Unfortunately, digging up the ground is a little expensive, and halfway through building our line, we run out of cash. No problem - we take out a loan, and continue onwards. This Metro line will surely pay for itself later on, so let's not worry now! With the two stations connected, we flick the switch and the Metros jump into action.

One of the calmer-looking stations - the ones in the middle of town aren't so empty

We then proceed to... well, watch. Cities in Motion isn't exactly a fast-paced experience, and most of the time you'll be simply observing your current systems, working out where the issues are and painting over the cracks. Objectives file in quite slowly so as not to overwhelm the player, but fortunately the more active gamer can hit the 'speed up' icons to get things moving a little more quickly.

It soon becomes apparently that the Metro system we've just built really is NOT going to pay for itself, as barely anyone is using it! The Mayor gives us some extra cash to help out, but rather promptly that is all gone too, and our Metro is a horrible failure. Time to restart, wouldn't you say?

Right, so this time around, let's try to be a little more clever. While the objective is called 'Getting the Underground Populated', we notice that Metros can also be built above ground at an elevated level, and for a much cheaper price too! After banging a track together (and an extra stop along the way), we get the Metro going - only this time, we only set one train doing the rounds instead of two.

These money-saving ideas appear to pay off, and soon we're getting customers! Just to bump up the numbers, we start some billboard advertising - the best type to choose when you want to pull in the students. Half an hour later, and the Metro system is bustling along - we've even bought an extra train to keep the masses happy. Gradually we're given additional missions, including some very silly ones. Cities in Motion is, for the most part, a serious undertaking, but there are definitely moments that work as a reminder that 'this is just a game, so have fun!'.

So our foray into the world of public transport started off disastrously, but once we'd gotten the hang of it, there was plenty of enjoyable, if slightly mellow, action to wrap our heads around. A key point to note is that Cities in Motion really does not hold your hand - after the tutorial is over, you're given barely any guidance, and are left to work out lots of the finer points of play yourself.

Aren't boat routes a little niche?

It would perhaps have been nice to see an advisors screen, like the type you'd see in the Sim City games, with a director for each type of transport who could pass on advice about whether your lines are much cop. Yet at the same time, what we really enjoyed about Cities in Motion is that it's not drowning in menus. Everything is kept relatively simple, and we never felt swamped with information and buttons to press.

When Cities in Motion is released early this year, it will feature a full campaign mode, special scenarios to play through, a sandbox mode for creating any system you fancy, and a full map editor for making your own cities. If you're a fan of the city-building style, then Cities in Motion may well be worth keeping an eye on.

Cities in Motion will be released early 2011.

Most Anticipated Feature: Creating our own hometowns with the map editor, then showing our local public transport system how it's done!

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By bosnian_dragon (SI Core) on Jan 07, 2011
Cool looking, I hope the gameplay is at the same level as the graphics :D
By djole381 (SI Elite) on Jan 07, 2011
Looks great :)
By fltatk (SI Veteran Member) on Jan 10, 2011
Looks really nice
By bollo (SI Newbie) on Feb 27, 2011
...yeap...nice to see a tycoon game this days...