Wednesday, March 14, 2007

City Life: World Edition Review

City Life: World Edition, developed by Monte Cristo and published by CDV.
The Good: New buildings, additional maps, building editor, no more Starforce
The Not So Good: Everything else is exactly the same
What say you? Unless you really want to edit buildings, there’s no reason to get this stand-alone expansion if you have the original: 4/8

This review of City Life: World Edition is rated purely on the additions made from the original game, the review of which can be read here. City Life: World Edition is intended as a replacement (stand-alone expansion) for the original game, so if you've never played the original, read the review of City Life and adjust the review score accordingly, as I will be taking the point of view from someone who has played the original game. See, I told you my reviews were poorly written.

The stand-alone expansion has gotten more popular recently, especially for lesser-known games. This gives new users a chance to try out the game using the new additions right out of the box, instead of purchasing the original and the expansion separately. City Life: World Edition is, coincidentally, a stand-alone expansion of City Life that adds new buildings with an editor. Does the expansion offer enough to make it worthwhile for owners of the original game?

Except for the new buildings, the rest of the graphics and the sounds of City Life: World Edition are identical to the original game. The game still allows you to wander about your city from a first-person perspective, but the added variety in building skins, along with the building editor, allows for a more diverse arrangement of buildings. This tends to make the cities look more realistic instead of having the same apartment building every block. City Life: World Edition still doesn’t rival the architectural variety of SimCity 4, but it’s an improvement over the original.

The first thing you’ll notice when you fire up City Life: World Edition is that Starforce has been removed. Apparently my Starforce rant in my review of the original game served its purpose, as CDV has opted to go with an alternative method of copy protection. City Life: World Edition serves up some additional maps to play in; although the maps are really unimportant to the gameplay, I’d still like to see a random terrain generator to mix things up a bit. City Life: World Edition also comes with a building editor, where you can combine existing parts of buildings to construct a new edifice or start from scratch using a 3-D modeling program. You’ll also get real-world landmarks to add to your cities once you achieve a certain level of success. They are purely cosmetic and don’t impact the gameplay, so their inclusion is a little dubious. Unfortunately, that is all that’s new in the game. The core gameplay is still exactly the same, and all of the additions made in City Life: World Edition are superficial skins that don’t impact or improve the game at all. The cumbersome road controls are still present and the lack of audio warnings still exists; there are simply no meaningful additions made to the game.

The short length of this review parallels the meager content of City Life: World Edition. A building editor and a handful of new buildings that don’t really impact the game at all? The booster packs for Battlefield 2 offer just as much content for half the price. City Life: World Edition is an interesting city builder, but only if you don’t have the original game. The additions made in this expansion are so superficial that you’re just better off finding the original game for a cheaper price. Maybe high-quality expansion packs like Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar have spoiled us, but all of the things in City Life: World Edition should have been included in a free download (and probably would have been before the proliferation of expansion packs). Even the $10 rebate for owners of the original game isn’t enough to make up for the skimpy offerings of this game. If this is the World Edition, then the world is a sad, sad place.