Cities Skylines - Parklife Review
Three years after its release, Cities Skylines is still the best city builder available. Having roundly beaten the genre's leading franchise, Sim City, when it went head to head with it back in 2015, developer Colossal Order continue to pour time into expanding the game in new ways.
Parklife is the fourth major DLC release - previously the game has benefited from the updates to add natural disasters, eco-friendly town development and a complete revamp of the games mass transit options. This time around the game adds a whole new district type (parks) and really beefs up the leisure options the game provides. While the base game has basic parks and facilities, now you can design who regions of your city in order to attract tourists or to add a new revenue stream.
One of the key benefits that Parklife brings to the game is the ability to make better use of your region's scenery. Instead of having a mountain range in the middle of your town that is almost impossible to develop, now designated it as a nature reserve and provide basic facilities and it'll be a tourist draw for your town. Or build a zoo into a hard-to-develop region - the more hotchpotch layout lends itself well to hilly areas.
There are four park types - amusement park, nature reserve, zoo and city park. Each as it's own selection of buildings and improvements, the first of which are unlocked the moment you add a ticket gate to your park and further, more advanced options follow as your park develops in stature. Initially, in the nature reserve, you get the option for campfires and tents, later on you can unlock viewing platforms and even later towers that add depth and further attractions for visitors.
There's a similar path of enhancements for the other park types - more animal enclosures for the zoo, better rides for your amusement park. It's a decent selection of new buildings and many are only useful depending on the land/sea you build your park on.
It is clear that Parklife is being aimed at people who enjoy the likes of Rollercoaster Tycoon and Theme Park, but the more serious nature of the city simulation means that your attention is split between your citizens needs and those of the parks. It's a tough balance and with the added impact of natural disasters if you have that DLC it makes the juggling act even more intense. It's pretty devastating to see a forest fire rip through your lovingly designed nature reserve; or to see the children in your seaside amusement park wiped out by an unexpected tsunami.
How much you get out of this DLC depends entirely on how you want to play the game. If the parks are an extension of your city they rarely offer more than what the base Cities Skylines provides - the money they bring in is far less than, for example, the tax income of a commercial zone on the same space. It should be noted that the positive impact in land values does offset this a little. However, if you're into creating lifelike cities and want to see tourism have more impact on your town then the depth of buildings and options really does make this worth an investment.
Graphically, if you've played Cities Skylines, you know what to expect - there's nothing here that's going to blow your mind. But for a three year old game it's still exciting to zoom into your city streets and mingle with the residents of your town - and the same effect is there within your parks. Likewise zooming out and having a birds eye view of your amusement park within your town is thrilling.
Cities Skylines remains one of our favourite games, and Parklife only adds to the depth on offer. It doesn't feel as game changing as Natural Disasters or Mass Transit, but it has a fun appeal that makes this worth picking up for that reason alone.