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City Life: World Edition

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Simulation
Publisher: CDV
Developer: Monte Cristo

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PC Review - 'City Life: World Edition'

by Byron Cutting on March 26, 2007 @ 1:11 a.m. PDT

City Life: World Edition is a significantly updated version of their 3D city building and management simulation which will feature new maps, over 100 new buildings, famous landmarks from across the globe and a built-in content editor .

Genre: Simulation
Publisher: CDV Software
Developer: Monte Cristo
Release Date: January 30, 2007

The following analogy is for the benefit of readers who, like me, enjoy cooking.

Imagine, just for a moment, that you had a whole three-pound chicken. You season it, throw it in a pan, and stick in the oven at 325 degrees for one hour, making sure to baste it every 20 minutes. The result could be called City Life: World Edition.

For those of you who aren't as skilled in the culinary arts, suffice it to say that this game has great potential but isn't quite finished yet.

A lot people compare City Life to SimCity 3000, and rightly so, since the two games are certainly similar in very many ways. This World Edition of the former makes it more competitive with the latter, and definitely adds some fun into a game which, at many times, seems a little more like work than play.

The premise behind City Life is simple: build a big city and meet the needs of its population. This goal is made more challenging through the addition of six social classes which don't all get along with one another, but which you need in order to maintain a thriving, economically powerful metropolis.

Each business, leisure activity, etc., primarily attracts employees from one of the six social groups, and each group is also influenced to varying degrees by other sociopolitical factors such as environmental quality, law enforcement, health care, and the local schools. Attracting residents from each of the groups is a matter of how attractive they find the different neighborhoods within your city.

That's all well and good, and the challenge is an interesting one until you've tackled it once or twice. However, that isn't the part of the game that makes it worth playing. The parts of the game I found most enjoyable were the graphics, and the variety of different buildings available to fill your needs. The original City Life suffered from a lack of variety in its structures, but the same is not true of World Edition. Your cityscape never gets boring, and it's kind of fun to zoom in to street level and watch your citizens milling around.

To enhance the variety of the many buildings available to you, City Life: World Edition comes with an editor for creating your own buildings. Although a little clunky, the editor is actually fairly useful, and the results are terrific. It took about 25 minutes to figure out how to use the editor and create a new building. One catch: Most of the building block categories in the editor are still in French.

One of the title's biggest flaws is its documentation. Although the user guide comes with a handy quick-start tutorial, there is very little information in it, the game, or elsewhere to help you along. For example, there is no documentation or advice to help you learn how to use certain buildings; I could never figure out how to place marinas or fishing companies along the coast, so my cities just didn't have them. It would have been really nice if the game had a help section or better tool tips describing how to use some of the features.

There are also a number of little things here and there that were missed in production. Labels are sometimes in French or will have a developer's tag instead of a user-friendly name. Some buildings don't have all of their informational dialogue filled out, or the buildings will reference the wrong social group.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing, though, was that you never really knew how the city was going to react to a given change. In a simulation title such as this, you should pretty much know ahead of time the cause and effect of each action or event. As an example, when your city's population reaches a certain point, your citizens will suddenly become extremely concerned about pollution and begin to move out of neighborhoods with low environmental quality. Once they leave, getting them to come back is extremely difficult and expensive. The fact that population level affects environmental quality — or citizens' interest in it — is not documented.

All in all, City Life: World Edition isn't bad, although the process of learning how to properly utilize the different buildings and manage sociopolitical factors is fairly tedious. Once you have these things down, you will find that building a massive city while managing disparate socioeconomic groups can be kind of fun. Building a Sears Tower or a Big Ben is cool too — just be sure your city is able to bear the cost.

The soundtrack is kind of pleasant in the way it bee-bops along, but you will get bored with it after a little while. Fortunately, the game allows you to import your own mp3 files and use them instead. If you prefer, you could just turn off the sound altogether, since there are no sound effects to speak of, so you won't miss much by turning it off.

City Life: World Edition has a fairly low replayability factor. Once you have beaten the challenges, the formula for doing so never really changes. On the other hand, the impressive variety of building models, as well as the ability to create new ones, definitely adds to the fun.

Although visually attractive, the title is not overly demanding on a system, and even a relatively low-end gaming machine would be able to run this without trouble. Still, installing the game takes just about forever, and its footprint is larger than Oblivion because there are many, many textures vying for space on your hard drive here.

City Life: World Edition wasn't my cup of tea, but a lot of people will probably be able to look past the half-baked portions of the game and still find themselves a good time.

Score: 7.0/10


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