At a glance...

Previewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Release Date
Richard Pilot PC/Mac Paradox Interactive Colossal Order 1+ (Online) Q2 2013

Cities in Motion 2 preview

Where to start with Cities in Motion 2? For me, the most important distinction between the latest incarnation of Paradox's traffic management sim was something that the developers I spoke to at Gamescom only mentioned in passing. For the sequel to the 2011 game, the developers have decided to use Unity rather than the custom engine that they made for the original. For me, this should hopefully mean a much more performant experience, something I felt let the original down, and for fans of the series and management games in general, this has allowed Colossal Order to make some significant improvements for the sequel.

The build we were shown was pre-alpha, but they had already put in place a day/night cycle. Rather than the previous game, which took you on a voyage through the ages, seeing transportation methods grow and change around you, Cities in Motion 2 will only take place in the modern era. They listened to fan comments regarding the lack of transportation timetables and when real life minutes are months and years in game this doesn't really fit. This sparked the decision to keep the timeframe of the game in the present, meaning that in this game one day equals 24 minutes of play time. This results in regular changes from day to night and back. The game looked a lot prettier than its predecessor which was in part due to the more advanced camera controls that let you zoom right into the heart of the city or pull completely out for an overview. This time change also means that players can now add schedules to their routes, perhaps setting one route to run every other hour or have another starting at midday. It also meant that Colossal Order could do more advanced work with the traffic simulation, such as including rush hour or quiet periods.

Another new feature is multiplayer, something that we unfortunately didn't get to see, but sounds quite exciting. The game will support both cooperative and competitive multiplayer with the former seeing players working together to manage a complex transportation network and the latter has players fighting it out to see who can run the best network. This is tied into company value, though, so setting your tickets prices low to attract the punters may work out initially but can lead to financial ruin and ultimately the loss of a match. It's also entirely possible to play a multiplayer game without even directly competing with your opponents. The singleplayer sandbox we were shown was huge, many times bigger than previous maps, almost to the point where you can have multiple cities in one map and not even get close to anyone else. What's important to note, though, is that the villages, towns and cities themselves grow over the course of a game, which leads us nicely onto dynamic cities.

In the first Cities in Motion you were given a city (or created one), they remained relatively static and you had to build your transport network around them. In Cities in Motion 2, dynamic cities essentially mean that you get to set the direction of city growth. You now have the option to build the road network up. If the city is doing well, i.e. your transport network is efficient and the people are happy with it, then people will flock to the city, build new houses and improve existing ones. These are built automatically and we're looking forward to seeing the city develop from a small town to a sprawling metropolis (particularly in the context of the larger maps). The roads themselves have some interesting customisation options to them; for example, being able to build bus lanes (something that wasn't previously possible and was a critical piece of fan feedback).

All in all, Colossal Order were keen to stress that they've taken a lot of fan feedback on board, from the mods that the community has built as well as soliciting opinions from the forums. This certainly showed through in the demo we were given and this is just touching the surface; there were more subtle additions too, such as gameplay features like bus depots (where buses spawn rather than just appearing on your route) and changes to the traffic simulation (such as adding traffic lights). These new features like timetables and ticket prices are all customisable but players who want a lighter touch can simply leave them at the defaults or modify one setting globally (e.g. raise all ticket prices or just those on a particular route). The editor will also return, a much loved feature from the original but it will be more advanced and easier to use.

Cities in Motion 2 is shaping up to improve significantly on the original and is definitely something you should keep your eye on. It is currently slated for Q2 2013.

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