City Life doesn't diverge from the typical start of a city building game. Much like others you are a new mayor, and you must start your city by placing your town hall first; though to be honest here, they don't even give you that much information. After placing your hall, you must build homes for your citizens, places for them to work, and services for your city, such as power, waste disposal, and even entertainment facilities. An increase in population size leads to the unlocking of higher density residential, industrial and service buildings. Your primary source of income is tax money from industries, with minor amounts coming in from excess production of services (electricity, waste production, etc) as well as small amounts from shopping plazas, and other commercial buildings.
In City Life World Edition there are six types of citizens you can have move into homes around the city. Each type of citizen has no problem with their own kind, and will also get along great with others similar to them. For example, a Blue Collar worker will get along with a Suit (basically a promoted blue collar) or a Have-nots class (the lowest class); the Fringe class will not get along with a Blue Collar, and eventually you'll get conflicts, or possibly far worse, including riots. Personally, I dislike the method in which this was done; there seems to be racial stereotypes in the game which just aren't needed, from how certain types of people live, and the colours that represent them in the game, with the lowest class being black and the highest being white (including the shades on each side inbetween). Creating comfort zones, and ideal living conditions for your people is your primary goal in City Life, and it is what you will do the majority of the time you play.
There is a bit of an odd situation in City Life World Edition; I honestly can't understand it, really. It seems that there is a large number of analysis tools, which give you very specific information on needs, shortages, profits, expenses, and so on. For most people who want to run a city, this is a very good thing.. .. well, except, oops, you can't do much about it. There is almost no micromanagement options for your buildings, you are given reports to micromanage but are not allowed to modify building settings to do what the reports tell you. Likewise, there are many people in the city, but they don't do anything, each one has a name, but nothing really happens to them. All these little details that are missing really leave a feeling that your city just isn't alive and working. So, I am a little confused as to what the game is trying to be, and what it really is, at this point. Am I supposed to micromanage? If so, why aren't they letting me? If not, then why are they showing me every item in detail?
Now, I do enjoy micromanaging a city, my people, or whatever I'm given; and maybe this is why City Life just rubs me the wrong way. Like I mentioned, while I'm able to view all the details of the city, I am unable to change it unless you zoom out, and design in a macro sort of way. Your buildings and other items you place all have areas of effect, service range, pollution range, or whatever else, and these buildings have to be planned and developed around in city wide terms. I get the fact that you aren't meant to lay out powerlines, railways, water systems, waste disposal and any other complex systems; but if I'm not suppose to do these things, then why do I set up bus routes, and taxi patrols? And set up each house one at a time? Something just feels very incomplete and inconsistant about what I'm doing. In addition, the creation of unique landscapes is also not possible as far as I can tell, the game will automatically adjust the land height for you, so creating gorgeous city centres and striking buildings on hills or cliffs ends up being a challenge as you can be limited in how you construct roads on hills or other terrains. I always enjoy planning out the details, perfecting areas no matter how long it takes, and it does fustrate me that I'm not able to here.
As you advance your city, access to large buildings is granted, as I've already mentioned. The largest cities are capable of affording grand monuments, and legendary world renown buildings. You can create busy downtown centres, skyscrappers, and just about anything you'd think you would see in a real city. From neighbourhoods that are run down, or full of hippies, to busy industrial parks, and grand highways, City Life World Edition literally lets you plan out a giant city, building by building. I have to admit, this is very impressive, and can put City Life in a league of its own among the city builder games. With the good though, there is the bad, of course.. and maybe a little too much bad for my likings. I've already mentioned that your city feels very lifeless, and that trend continues. When you design your city, you design around the types of people, so a good design doesn't have a lot of conflict, right? Well.. a good design in City Life is simply not fun at all. Nothing happens when things are working smoothly, you can sit back and watch your cash roll in at the same rate forever, and watch as your city sits in stagnation and bliss. I have yet to encounter any randomness in the game, where something just happens, and keeps you on your toes, juggling your resources and making changes. It is just... dull. I guess that is the best way to describe it, dull. I watch people stand around on the streets, not moving, cars driving around but really not doing anything.. a couple of buildings complaining about lack of this or that service on a regular interval, it is just entirely too predictable.
An important feature of most building games is the documentation. Personally it is something I read over many times, before I start, after I'm a little familar with the game, and finally, when I'm acing the game to squeeze more details out. With City Life, I'm not doing that.. their documentation is very poor, to put it gently. The in game tutorial, well.. I guess I can't say I've seen worse, simply because anything worse would most likely render me unconcious. If you want a glimpse of the tutorial, open up their manual, take a gluestick to the back of it, and glue it to your monitor. There is no active tutorial, nothing that lets you get a feel of the tools or how the game really works, which may not be bad, but I've seen far simplier games with thicker manuals than this.
Technically City Life World Edition has some issues. From what I've seen around, there are various installation problems (though I had none except for an excessive amount of time it took). The game runs decently, but visually isn't all that much to look at, especially for something taking up 5.5 gigs on my hard drive, and shoving almost 60,000 files on there; (which is a disaster for performance) I expect more. Zoomed out, your buildings and city looks blocky, on a moderate zoom the city looks pleasant, and zoomed down to street level you get back to very rough graphics. The graphics and city has a lot of nice detail, and you can make some good looking areas, however the images are just not of a very high quality. As your city gets larger and larger, the amount of time it takes to load a saved game seems to grow even faster, to the point you might want to hit load, and come back later. The sound effects leave much to be desired, and the music is very simple and repetative. The effects, and warnings are severely lacking, while the news reports flash across the screen you hear nothing, when warnings pop up it is silent, ambient sounds are weak, and the list goes on. If you haven't noticed the trend... dull, it feels more like a 1990s simulator at times then a current game.
City Life World Edition has its own world editor bundled with it, allowing you to create your own maps, and cities. Now if I don't say something about it, I'm going to get a bunch of mean looks. I'm more of a point and click kinda person, so when I opened up the editor my brain wasn't really prepared for what hit me. The editor is more of a developer tool than a gamer tool, it has options for creating and changing building, terrain, textures, and more. All in great detail, allowing the smallest details to be changed on all the game objects. At least, I think it does. I mean, I can't figure it out, the editor is complicated, and the documentation in the book doesn't begin to cover the options you have available to you. If you are the modding type though, you'll love this editor!
To sum things up; there is nothing wrong with City Life World Edition, there are no glaring bugs, or real problems with the game, but similary, I have a hard time saying there is too much right with the game either. As time went on I found I had to push myself to play the game, I felt no desire to keep playing, no story to draw me in, no dynamic mechanics to keep me busy; in fact the mechanics are just downright boring at times. To me, City Life is very much a misnomer, there is no life in your city at all. The severe lack of polish and attention to details had me just motivated to play anything else. However, City Life World Edition does offer a unique take on the city building genre, and I am sure there are many out there that would enjoy this style of play, but I'm sure not one of them.