Adventures in Socialism

Ok, there’s this new game out called City Life that I’m curious about. It purports to be a Sim City clone, but from the description of it found in this rather shallow Gamespot review, it seems to be kind of the opposite; it’s more like the anti-Sim City.

Why? Because Sim City attempts to model city management from a private enterprise perspective. For the most part, you don’t actually build your city; you just zone areas and provide incentives for your Sims to build stuff where you want them to. True, there are big public projects like schools and hospitals that the government takes care of, but this is more a nod to the way things are actually done in modern America (Socialism Lite) than a lesson in Marxist economics.

Contrast that with City Life, where it sounds like you actually, playing the part of the government, set down particular businesses in particular places:

As your town grows in size, you’ll need to provide amenities for your citizens. Grocery stores, medical centres, and primary schools will suffice for lower-population areas, but later on, only expensive shopping centres and hospitals will do…Each step of the way, it’s a challenge to make sure you provide all the basics whilst making a little profit to be able to build the next part of town.

So my question, before I go all-out on a pro-capitalism/anti-socialism rant, is does City Life allow you to place particular businesses in your city, or does it use the zoning model a la Sim City? The Gamespot reviewer doesn’t give any clear indication (although any reviewer who can pen the phrase “…get down to the nitty-gritty of your city” can’t be all bad!).

There’s a demo.

I’ve taken a distant interest but not looked further. My first inclination is to think that they’ve done it that way because they’re doing a “City as RTS base” game, not because they are communists.

Sounds similar to Constructor, which was a fun little game with a lot of charm.

Sounds (and looks an awful lot) like Monopoly Tycoon. In Monopoly Tycoon you put stores and apartment buildings on city blocks based on the rating and the flow of traffic. So you could put a crappy bar in a low income, high traffic area, or a fancy bookstore in a high income low traffic area. I think. It was a long time ago. It was a really good tycoon game though.

It’s more micro-managing with businesses, you have to place different building types to get your people room for advancement. Every social group wants their businesses. It’s a lot about balancing the needs of six different groups. Or rather five groups, and avoid having the sixth. Elites, Fringes, Suits, Radical Chics, Blue-Collars and Have-Nots. It’s a bit of a weird view of the world, as the different social groups start fighting at the drop of a hat, unless you keep them separate.

Grocery stores, medical centres, and primary schools will suffice for lower-population areas, but later on, only expensive shopping centres and hospitals will do

Erm, in most OECD countries you cannot build anything without a building permit, and even the types of things you can do in those buildings will be restricted to some degree.

I’m actually quite digging this game… it’s really more like an Impression-style city builder with modern trappings than anything else. It’s very gamey, and has a very different vibe than Sim City, but I actually am having a lot of fun with it.

Documentation is horrible, interface is somewhat better but still has issues… but despite that I keep coming back to it.

Actually, I’d be more interested in a socialism/communism sim, with glorious five-year plans and suppression of dissidents etc.

Of course, the win-state would have to be how long you lasted before the whole damn thing collapsed. Or whether you got away without being executed.


I’d heard that wasn’t very “simmy.” Wasn’t it a 3rd=person game where the goal to forment unrest? I was thinking something more Tropico-style.

I was going to check out the game until I saw the dreaded words: Star Force. shudders

Wow, only five turns to make your choices.

Three turns, I think. Yeah. I don’t know that you can really even call it a game, but it’s sort of an interesting learning exercise. All the mechanics are totally above-board so you can probably figure out the “optimal” choices given some effort and some scratch paper, but I never bothered to go that far. It’s worth tinkering with for a bit just to think about the issues the post-revolutionary USSR had to deal with, not least of which was a brutal dictator willing to “fix” those problems at any human cost.

My only… repeat… ONLY gripe with City Life is the lack of variety in buildings. That’s it, man.

Everything else about that game is golden. Classic gameplay wrapped up in same-y graphics.