Much of the media would have you believe that gamers are psychopaths, trained to kill by the flashing images coming from their murder boxes. You know what? They could be right. I've just instigated a green revolution in Vienna's public transport system and if you dare leave that crisp packet on the tram and threaten the fine balance of carbon neutrality I will rip off your head and...
It takes a certain kind of nerd to find traffic management interesting, but we're out there! There may not be a high budget, annually released Phil Hammond's Pro Secretary Of State For Transport series but now and then a developer pops up with something to satiate our little section of the city builder niche. Cities In Motion from Colossal Order is the latest game to compete for that bit of hard drive space we reserve for Transport Tycoon or Traffic Giant and it just might find a place in our hearts too. Aww.
Colossal Order clearly share our fondness for those old games and Cities In Motion feels like an attempt to bring them up to date with 3D graphics and a bit of 2011 polish. They haven't reinvented the wheel and they didn't need to, but they have spent some time tweaking the formula in a few places.
CIM's eponymous cities are recreations of Vienna, Helsinki, Berlin, and Amsterdam. Lacking a road map of 1920s Vienna I can't vouch for the accuracy of the map available in our preview build but each and every avenue is given a convincingly Austrian name so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. That little touch makes the place feel a lot more lived-in, as does the presence of tiny people wandering around and grumpily queuing at your bus stops.
The game's way of dealing with people is the "next level" feature that makes Cities In Motion a worthwhile addition to the genre. Each person - let's call them cims for my amusement - each cim the game creates has a journey that they'd like to make and they're prepared to get on and off at various stops and transfer between different forms of transport as often as necessary. Let's say a cim lives in the northwest of the map and works in the southeast. He lives in the catchment area of a handily placed bus stop with a line that'll drop him off right by a metro station in the heart of the city. You'll be able to watch him queue up at the bus stop, hop on, ride into town, get off, take the stairs underground, and with the underground camera mode you can go subterranean and follow the final leg of his journey through tubes that pierce through the very earth (technology these days eh) to his place of work. Of course, while you've sat there marvelling at the artificial intelligence involved, half a dozen of your trams have broken down and you're haemorrhaging cash. Richard Branson makes it look so easy...
The final game will have a 12 scenario campaign as well as the all-important sandbox mode. It'll also have an in-game map editor and early - though unofficial - indications suggest that the vehicles themselves could be quite easily modifiable. Cities In Motion will ship with 30 vehicles but they're already offering a five-vehicle DLC pack as a pre-order bonus. Things could get a bit Railworks.
Cities In Motion is out on February 22nd for £15 with that DLC bundled in; a very reasonable price. I'm not prepared to forsake my beloved Transport Tycoon Deluxe for CIM until I've played a final build but it does look pretty good so far. I may need those old TTD MIDIs playing in the background to get me through it but I can see myself spending a fair bit of time with Cities In Motion.