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Cities in Motion: U.S. Cities

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Cities in Motion: U.S. Cities is an expansion pack for Cities in Motion. Imagine you’re the ridiculously good looking entrepreneur of a public transportation company in charge of every bus route, tram line, subway, water bus, and luxury helicopter in a booming city. Enter Cities in Motion, a top down simulation game that pressures you to build a way for people to get to work and make a profit doing it. In U.S. Cities, players will be able to take charge of two new metropolitan areas in the biggest expansion since the game’s launch.

U.S. Cities allows you to build your transportation empire in San Francisco and New York. Both cities are recreated very convincingly. You won’t find every street meticulously represented, but having intimate knowledge of the cities can actually help your performance in game. Every route is highly dependent upon the need for transportation in that immediate area. If you know where residents typically live and work in real life, you can more intuitively build transit lines in the game allowing people to commute to their job. Every line is ensured to be profitable if you know where citizens want to be and why. This allows your real world knowledge to shine if you’re a resident, or a frequent visitor, of either city.

Don’t know New York or San Fran very well? No problem. The game also features a graphical overlay pointing out where people work, shop, learn, etc. This ensures a fair chance no matter how familiar you are with either city.

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Help citizens "bus it" to work in San Francisco!

The game features a Campaign mode challenging you to build public transportation from the ground up in both cities across a few scenarios. The scenarios are full of objectives that push you to make different groups of people happy in the city. Every objective is usually out of the way and costs a big chunk of change, but there’s often a hefty cash reward if you take the time to satisfy everyone’s request. Sometimes a warden will beg you to build a water bus to connect downtown to Alcatraz, other times, business men ask for direct routes from downtown to the airport. Happy citizens means more money for your Scrooge McDuck fortune to thrive.

The objectives are a nice touch and keep you from continuously playing it safe and making sure bets at every turn. It’s hard to deny the lucrative challenges when you know there’s money in your success. The requests are quite accurate to the real requirements of both cities as well. Citizens in San Francisco will ask you to build more bus routes and help prevent the construction of freeways in their city (a real issue in its history). Again, it’s not essential to know such information, but the developers definitely did their research and it only adds to the game’s authenticity.

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The color coated overlay helps point out where people live and work.

The goal is to make a profit. It’s simple enough but can be harder than it sounds. Every line needs vehicles, stops, employees, and maintenance, and they aren’t cheap. The first day of every month bills you a sizeable amount of cash just to keep the lines running. This gameplay is fair but a little unforgiving. If you make too many unprofitable lines, it’s possible to get stuck in a never ending cycle of losing money every month without enough sellable assets to get yourself out of it.

The game does allow you to take out loans, but only adds to the financial trouble in the long run. Monthly loan payments can get so high, it seems almost impossible to make a profit.

The secret is short routes. Why make one long bus line when you can build three short ones charging customers more money to get to work? You’d think this would make the citizens mad, but they don’t seem to ever catch on. It’s hard to imagine this was in the developers mind when making the game, but it’s a strategy that’s second to none when trying to turn a profit. More could have been done in development to discourage this overlooked loophole, but it surprisingly doesn’t do much to ruin the experience. Short routes aren’t always possible in every area and citizen requests often ask for longer transit lines.

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New York City at its finest.

Cities in Motion also feature a Sandbox mode and a map editor allowing you to play the game without objectives or create your own cities. Both are the same as before, but U.S. Cities adds a few new buildings to edit with and allows you to play the Sandbox mode in the new American towns. It’s not much, but at least the new content isn’t exclusive to the Campaign mode.

Like the other additions to Cities in Motion over the past few months, U.S. Cities feels more like a content pack instead of an expansion pack. It adds more modes of transportation and more cities, but the gameplay is so similar to the original it feels tired the second you pick it up. The game could definitely use a full fledge expansion by now, but U.S. Cities is cheap and would make a great addition for fans still addicted to the original. If you played the base title to boredom, there simply isn’t much here that will reignite your interest.

The Good

Addictive gameplay | Accurate recreations of San Fran and New York

The Bad

Tough to make a profit | Not a lot of new content

3/5

Little David Galanter grew up in Orange County, CA loving videogames and anything else that repelled girls. After getting his Bachelor's Degree in Theatre Arts, David decided to start contributing his soft silky words to the world via online media. He currently owns a website with a weekly podcast (www.drgman.com) and is a reviewer for Default Prime!
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