I've Got Many complaints about my home town: the trains are slow, there are too many pensioners and you can never find an open kebab shop when you need one. Tilings would be different if I ran the place - Indian takeaways would be open all hours and friendly tramps would dance for hours in exchange for a shiny nickel. Obviously, this is where City Life comes in.
At first glance it doesn't look much different from your average sim game. From the start you're dropped on an empty stretch of real-estate, tasked with liberally scattering roads and houses until a bustling city rises from the ashes. The interface is simple but satisfyingly functional; all side-bars can be swiftly hidden and city stats are easily popped up with the click of a button.
But this isn't just SimCity with a new flowery dress. Monte Cristo's effort -as well as offering all the real estate construction and stat management present in Maxis's effort - throws an important twist into the city sim cocktail.
In City Life, citizens fall in to one of six social classes, ranging from gas-pumping blue collars to limousine-cruising suits. Sadly, chavs aren't available in the retail game, although we're sure someone's already working on the mod.
This feature puts a large twist on the tired SimCity formula, and kept us amused in what would otherwise be a fairly by-the-numbers sim game. Zoning neighbourhoods becomes essential to creating a successful city, while catering for their different needs is also crucial. For example, blue collars infinitely prefer a country bar to a family restaurant found in a fringe neighbourhood, and vice-versa.
Sadly, City Life's triumphs end after a few hefty play sessions. The Theme Park-style selection of terrain maps kept us occupied for a while, but due to the relatively short time it takes to expand into an end-game metropolis, we quickly sped through the 22 available. Combine this with non-existent terrain controls and a number of statistical omissions, and City Life falls a little short of the bar set by the likes of SimCity 4. Still, we enjoyed dropping aristocrats in the middle of a hillbilly neighbourhood,
Download City Life
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Look Outside. Everyone's walking around, minding their own business. They all hate each other, but thanks to good parenting (and the fear of reprisals) they're not running around kicking each other in the face and nuts. This is peace -humanity in balance. Monte Cristo has brought cultural disharmony to the world of town planning with City Life -introducing six distinct cultures for you to deal with, from the Hilton-esque 'elites', scoffing wrens' egg omelettes off ruby platters, to the 'have-nots', who are forced to lick whatever nutrients they can from each other's mucky bodies.
It's your job in City Life (on top of the usual sim-planning, schooling and the provision of swimming pooling) to keep these six cultures in check. The blue collar workers don't think much of the artsy fringe types, so you're encouraged not to build mechanics' shops next to mime artist refuges, unless you want your meticulously planned streets running thick with blood and face paint. It's all set in real-time 3D, and as you'd expect, you can descend like a clawless god-eagle to watch your wee folk hugging or arguing to the same sort of extent we've seen recently in competent stuff like Tycoon City: New York. It's all pleasantly distracting, although when a game appears in which you can pinch someone's arse in a bus queue and blame it on a bald man, fax us.
It's a brave conker that'll take on the heritage of Maxis' 17-year-old oak tree, but it's also been a good two years since the SimCity 4: Rush Hour expansion gave everyone the chance to flood a hospital. Come April, City Life might just slot into the mayor-shaped hole in your heart.