Was really excited when this game was released - I thought yay! Transport Tycoon for 2011... sadly mistaken.
So the question is, have they made a decent attempt at bringing this much loved format into 2011.... no not really.
Quite simply it is too hard! Don't get me wrong I love a challanging long-play game but this is just silly. The idea is that you target your stops where certain demographics live, for example blue collar workers. To aid you in this the game gives you a SimCity style infomation overlay for the mini map - basically red for bad, yellow for quite bad and green for good. The trouble is - no body seems to live anywhere! You try any option and all you get is a kind of reddish orange mess across the whole map indicating to me that the makers of this game assume that cities are full of mostly empty houses and where there are a few inhabitants they are an ecclectic mix of homeless drop outs and white collar workers sharing the same apartment.
I decided to go ahead and try to lay down some routes anyway, I tried to pick some really obvious low risk ones. I stuck down a few bus lines centred around the college and tried to translate the baffling mosiac of red and orange that supposedly indicated student housing, coupled with an ad campaign targetted at students and I thought i'd be on to a winner. Threw my first stops down.. nothing, apparently no one lives in the centre of Amsterdam - no commuters what so ever, I fast-forwarded the time... one person at one stop zero at all the others.
I must have tried a dozen strategies and all of them had exactly the same result - no one wants to travel on my vehicles! But my reputation is supposedly fantastic! At one point I put my fares down to almost free and still they didn't come! and this is on easy. Call me crazy but if I had a train that went directly from my back garden directly to my place of work and cost 10p a go - I would take that train, that's exactly what I later set up as a test and 1 person used it repeatedly in 5 years of fastforwarded time! Face it - your passenger generation algorithm is wrong.
The trick in Transport Tycoon was to manage your passengers efficiently so that they got to where they were going fast and you made money, this was fun - but in Cities in Motion there are no passengers, just debt. Every single time I found myself in £-80 debt or -£78 debt each month - it's as if they egineered it to be a very specific kind of impossible, it's just not fun.
I'm sure if I spent every waking hour of the next month playing this I'd stumble blindly across some formula that works and the game would suddenly be payable, but I'm not prepared to give it that time because it's an unreasonable ask, and besides in the 5 hours or so that i played the game it crashed twice. Now it resides in the bin - a fantastic waste of time and money and I had such high hopes for the little blighter.
On the bright side if you are interested and can commit then I would say this - the interface does a nice good of actually laying track and placing stops (something that could have easily been fiddly) and the graphics are nice. Which is what makes it all the more annoying that that little number indicating commuters waiting at a stop never seems to rise above the lofty heights of zero. Seriously in the world of Cities in Motion yours could be the last bus stop in all the world with the last bus going to the last planetary escape rocket and still people would rather walk.