When it was released on the PC back in 2015, Cities: Skylines gave players and fans a robust, deep, complex and rewarding experience that other city-building games just couldn’t match. Now two years later the game makes its away onto this generation’s leading home console the PlayStation 4 for more city-building goodness. However Cities: Skylines made its name on the, a platform whose mouse and keyboard set up to help plan the perfect village and like many of the PC to console ports we’ve seen before this is sure to present some issue from a simple control perspective right? Well get ready to be surprised because Cities: Skylines is (almost) as good on the PS4 as it is on the computer.
The core gameplay in the PlayStation 4 Edition is entirely the same as on the original PC rendition as you must plan and build your city in order to not only keep your residents happy but also ensure that basic services like water, sewer and electricity keep running. However simply plopping down a power plant here and there is far from enough as you’ll also need to plan for a good road system that eliminates gridlock, a reliable public transit system that meets your city’s needs as well as a building a vibrant downtown core so you can attract cash-filled tourists to your humble burg.
Cities: Skylines offers two main gameplay modes, the first, which I suppose would count as the game’s ‘campaign’ has you starting with limited funds and options and building a new city from scratch while the other gives you access to all of the game’s building options from the get go along with infinite cash. While both modes are fun I found myself playing the ‘from scratch’ mode the most, mostly to avoid getting overwhelmed by the sheer amount of tools at your disposal. In fact there are so many tools, options and settings to play with that I often found myself running to a tutorial or ‘let’s play’ just to have an idea of what I was doing. I don’t even want to think of how many cities had their mayor abandon them because of a critical mistake in planning out routes or the placement of districts.
Thankfully, despite its inherently complex nature the game controls like a dream (yes even with a DualShock controller). After a few minutes you’ll have mastered the art of zooming (with the triggers) and rotating the camera (with the control sticks) to give you the best possible view and angle to design your city. I was really impressed with how well the developers at Tantalus managed to cram all the nuance of a full mouse and keyboard setup into a standard game controller but they pulled it off expertly. The own thing I will point out as a nagging issue is menu navigation which is clunky and even uncomfortable as you sometimes have to press and hold odd combinations of buttons to get to where you want to be.
Now remember earlier in this review when i said that this version of Cities: Skylines was almost as good as the PC one? Well the reason for that is that the PS4 Edition is lacking in one of the core features that made the computer version so good – mod support. So like the Xbox One version that released earlier this game won’t really allow you to do a lot of the crazy and unique stuff that players on the PC version have been building which makes the game feel a bit constrained in terms of the creativity you are allotted. Not to say that you can’t build some pretty darn impressive cities (Alville is a pretty great place to live IMO) but the lack of any kinds of mods just makes everything feel less experimental and a lot more safe than it needs to be.
However you do get the popular After Dark expansion included in the package which adds a whole new layer of strategy to planning your urban masterpiece as you now have to account for your citizens’ night life in your urban planning. This means that when the sun goes down all the designing and building you did during the day will be put to the test as traffic flows and transit shift to different destinations and strains on your power grid change. It’s a fun layer of duality that goes into the game to make it (somehow) even deeper than it already is, though I wish the game took more time to explain its more complex mechanics, leaving you to your own devices shortly after a few tutorial windows.
Visually speaking, Cities: Skylines shines on the PlayStation 4, with extremely detailed little houses, buildings, cars and natural spaces all being present on-screen without a hint of slowdown or lag. Even zooming from way up in the sky all the way down to inspect the sewer grates up close and personal is fast and fluid and the game never suffers for it. Really the only part of the game’s presentation on a whole that I wish were improved were the loading times when you first start-up a map but beyond that everything looks and sounds great. The only other thing I could find to nitpick is the lack of a glossary of terms or icons to go along with the game since it can be a bit confusing in a pinch to find out what a bunch of little icons popping up all over your city mean.
The PlayStation 4 Edition of Cities: Skylines comes in at about $20 more than the version available on Steam and while even at $55 its a good deal it does feel a bit less of a steal than the PC version mostly for the aforementioned features that are present in that version. The lack of mod support is a big hit to the game’s value as it basically guarantees that, outside of official expansions, you’ll never really get much new content here. However, if you’ve never played Cities: Skylines or don’t have a PC capable of running it then this is still a great game and a good deal, just know that there is a better option out there.
Cities: Skylines: PlayStation 4 Edition is a surprisingly faithful port of a game who’s genre is usually only well suited for the mouse and keyboard driven PC. The controls are rock solid, the gameplay tight and the graphics impressive, so if you haven’t yet taken the dive this might be the perfect time to get into Cities: Skylines. That being said, the PC version is still the superior edition, thanks to is expandability via an endless stream of mods. But, if you prefer gaming on a couch or don’t want to upgrade your PC anytime soon then I can’t really think of a reason to pass up on this game.
A copy of Cities: Skylines: PlayStation 4 Edition was provided to Link-Cable by the publisher for the purpose of this review.