Saturday night, you are at the third cocktail, ask for a quarter to the bartender, who says, “This is what I do. Do you trust?”. The answer would be no, only the reflexes are slow, and as you see it joining fluorescent fluids one after the other, you are already studying the shortest way to the toilet. Make the first sip and, incredible, it does not suck, actually it looks really good! All this punk is the perfect metaphor of what is Urban Empire , a title developed by Fragment Production and produced by Kaypso Media that, based on a city building fund, adds other ingredients already seen in the Democracy series and others borrowed from Civilization, all seasoned with a splash of history. About a month after its release, we have been able to taste this strange mix, whose components are already well-balanced, but that at least for the time being, they still leave the tones of bitter aftertaste on the final.
We learn to build a city: basic course
The Kalypso Media signatures, to which we have the Tropico series , and Fragment Production, whose other founder is only Mikko Tyni, creat
or of Cities in Motion , should already be very much concerned about the nature of Urban Empire . The first steps taken in the indispensable tutorial instantly give two clues. The first is that this introductory phase requires a necessary balancing before the final exit of the game, because in the current state, if you follow all the directions given by the counselor, you end up soon in r
ed and you are unable to go ahead. The second, most importantly, immediately defines Urban Empirelike a city builder on the generis: we were expecting to trace crossroads and road paths, to place electricity pylons or pipes to bring water to homes
and instead, nothing of this, a bit because the title puts hands of the clock at the beginning of the 1820s and therefore for modern power plants or water pumping systems is still missing some time, a bit because Urban Empire does not p
ush the city builder mechanic accelerator. So forget the breathtaking views of Cities Skyline, with urban neighborhoods lit by neon lights or intricate street lattice, overpasses and bridges under which high speed rails pass, forget the missed hours and hour
s with virtual team and ruler to make your own settlement an architectural utopia, where everything can be destroyed and built in a click blast. The development of cities in Urban Empire follows far more simplified guidelines: it draws an area on which the future district will rise, where the roads are already defined, the relati
onship between the businesses, the industries and the dwellings is decided, the pipelines are automatically positioned and finally the various structures which determine the well-being of the population, such as schools, theaters, clinics, police stations, or even parks. After the practice, just proceed and magically the new neighborhood will rise from the ground like a mushroom after a rainy night? Nothing at all, and that’s where the beautiful starts.
Not men, but men
Generally, in a city builder, they are dressed as a demiurge of the deus ex machina, which from above, with its omnipotent hand, immeasurably decides the destiny of the citizens, ripping wild woods and green meadows to place us less poetic nuclear power plant.
Not only that, the first immobile engine is ethereal, it lives out of time and space, nobody knows who it is or what its face. In Urban Empirethe situation is completely different, the protagonist is in flesh and bones – rather, more or less – and belongs to one of the four families with which to start the campaign that, as mentioned, embraces two hundred years of history, from 1820 un
til in 2023. In this long time, along with new technologies, increasingly state-of-the-art buildings and scientific discoveries, the protagonist, in fact, the five protagonists who change as they advance in the era, develop their personality, modeled on royalties as seen in Crusader Kings: taking certain decisions following casual events, which concern not only the political and busi
ness scope of the city, but also the private life of the virtual mayor, will thus develop certain traits, each linked to certain bonuses or malus . The feeling of living within a precise historical context is one of the fundamental traits in Urban Empire , where the city is not a novel Atlantis, detached from the world and out of the world, but is a
settlement – always fictitious – initially part of of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with continuous missions and reminders from Vienna. Over the years, the geopolitical situation is noticeably changed and the repercussions are also felt and fixed on the skin of your city, which will go through two world wars, a silent conflict, to the invasive presence of social
media, just like the our days. Next to the pages of newspapers reporting news from the world, the sense of progression through the eras is given by two sources: the first, pure Civilization style, is a technology tree where to unlock everyth
ing, from social progress, to new energy structures and mobility, to the edicts and laws. The second is an external source, and through casual events that are repeated in a game, all the fundamental steps of recent history are revived, such as the abolition of slavery, the right to vote for women or, moreover, the formation of labor unions. The good thing is, if you want to be despots, you could quietly raise your shoulders in front of these ragged proposals from above.