Find out in PlayStation Universe’s Cities VR Enhanced Edition review for PSVR 2.
Cities VR Enhanced Edition Review (PSVR2) – City Builder’s VR Excursion Feels Like Home
Soaring Over Your City
As a fairly long-time fan of Paradox Interactive’s Cities: Skylines, the prospect of tackling it in VR has long been an intimidating dream. I liked the concept, but how would it translate?
Would it be too fiddly and stressful to truly work? The answers are here in Cities VR, and the answers are largely positive ones.
At its core, this still operates almost exactly like the flat-screen version of the game.
The tools, the layout, the same introduction to building a city, and of course, the same art style. Yet in play, VR makes a really big difference for several reasons.
The most obvious ones are perspective and control. When compared to the original game, Cities VR puts you in true hovering God mode.
As ever, you’re able to see the city from on high and up close and personal, but now it’s really apparent as you can effectively soar over your working city as it twinkles through the shroud of the night, or roam at street level, watching your bustling metropolis from the perspective of its citizens.
The special feeling of watching your city grow is further enhanced by this more immersive aspect. It helps to bring genuine affection for particular areas of the city and its residents, as you see how time and change reconstruct familiar places.
As your city swells into a bustling metropolis, it usually becomes very easy to lose a sense of place. Here the connection is maintained a bit longer.
Connecting You to the City
I was actually more invested in naming streets and creating districts than before. I felt genuine warmth in returning to neighborhoods I’d not seen in a while. Cities VR really brings out the passive side of the game.
Just watching the world go by? It’s one of the most relaxing immersive experiences I’ve had in any form of VR.
A downside is that the game isn’t really meant to be viewed in such granular detail. Nowhere does that show more than when citizens merge together and flock through the walls of houses and shops en masse.
I understand why it’s not something worth addressing when it’s already proven difficult enough to make Cities run properly on consoles, but it does put some cracks in Cities VR’s spell.
Designing the city gets a bit of extra kick too. At first, having all those controls in your hands can be a bit much. The standard PS4/5 controls are deeply engrained in my brain, so the new setup was alien to me.
I’ll admit it’s actually quite intuitive and furthers the game from its spreadsheet roots. It’s just a touch…intimidating, to begin with.
So where it succeeds? With practice, it definitely gives greater control over laying out your city. You have a finer appreciation for the slope of the land, and a near-constant view of how it looks connecting one place to the next.
I actually think it made my decisions more methodical instead of soaked in mild panic. The art of creating the city comes to the fore instead of just putting out fires both literal and organizational.
Brick By Brick
It’s a blend of standard controls from the non-VR version and the kind of context-sensitive stuff found in this format. So you effectively ‘draw’ roads, pipelines, cables, and districts with your own hand. Or what passes for it?
That has obvious drawbacks (a steady hand certainly helps), but the payoff is a touch more freedom.
This is a general feeling I have with VR versions of established flat-screen titles. VR offers a new level of expression to pretty much any game, and to get that, there’s usually a tradeoff with something that maybe felt more comfortable in the original version.
In the better examples, you soon dismiss that as potential issue. Cities VR is one of those fortunate few.
The View From the Top
I’m not sure Cities VR would convert anyone who isn’t already a fan of the sim genre, but for those like myself who have put countless hours into Cities Skylines? It definitely livens the experience up.
It’s kind of like looking at your garden from the ground floor window for years, and then suddenly you can see it from upstairs.
Or actually go out into it! A fresh perspective brings fresh joy, and that’s all I could ask for in a Cities game in VR.
Cities: VR – Enhanced Edition is available on PS5 and PSVR2 now.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.