Urban Empire Review
Welcome to our CHEATfactor Game Review of Urban Empire. We review the game and then factor in how the available cheats affect the overall game experience. For better or worse, our reviews will help you decide whether or not to use cheats when playing the game.
What it is: Part city builder, part political simulator, Urban Empire aims to both unshackle your creativity and keep it in check at the same time. The main draw here is that even though you’re in charge, you’re going to have to run pretty much all of your decisions through a stingy city council. How you get them to work with you, be it through negotiations or threats is completely up to you. It’s an interesting idea, but it’s held back by it’s lack of replayability and some game breaking bugs that occurred all too often.
Breaking hands and kissing babies: Though Urban Empire isn’t the first game to attempt to blend the political pandering and city building, it does introduce some great ideas and for better or worse adds a ton of realism to the mix. Urban Empire may be the perfect sim for our time as almost nothing can get done without a governing body deliberating over it for weeks if not months. All of the decision makers have their own agenda and it’s up to you how to please them. You can work directly with them and the citizens they represent, trying to win their vote or you could just threaten and intimidate them until they see things your way. It adds a whole new level to the city building genre that’s missing in games like City Skylines and Sim City.
Making progress CAN feel great: Though it’s miniscule when compared to games like Civilization 6, Urban Empire’s two century timeline feels remarkably well paced. Starting in the late 1800s and working it’s way through to the modern day, Urban Empire hits on all of the big decisions in recent history. From the invention of running water to the pesky press checking out your every move to advances robotics; Urban Empire is constantly putting you in the decision seat and those decisions are constantly having an effect on you and your ability to lead later on in the game. I always tried to lead fairly but sometimes you do need a bit of elbow grease to start turning the wheels of government.
What Doesn't work
There’s not much replay value here: I wanted to tell you all about how dynamic Urban Empire’s political system can be, and that’s true at first but it becomes painfully obvious that the further you get into the game, the less it has to show. Political parties can change and grow over time and the first time I played the game it was a fantastic experience. The second time though it became obvious that those exact same changes will happen every time you play the game. This is a major downfall as only smaller changes differentiate each play through and you can get through each game in about six hours, meaning you’re going to see everything you need to see fairly early on and be left with a mundane and predictable experience.
It’s full of bugs: To be fair, I haven’t heard many people that I know are playing Urban Empire complain about the bugs I’ve been seen them plenty. This isn’t that demanding of a game but I suffered slowdown at the strangest times to a level that pretty much brought the game to a halt. When that wasn’t happening I had multiple crashes that lost a ton of progress. I can admit that things seemed to have gotten better towards the end of this review but they were still there and they still happened frequently.
Conclusion: Urban Empire has some great ideas, but like most political experiences, they’re held back by red tape and issues. Nearly every time I found something I liked about Urban Empire, two other things came along that I didn’t. Furthermore, it’s full of bugs and seemingly unfinished ideas that go nowhere. If you find Urban Empire on sale somewhere down the road, it may be worth your investment.
Joe started off writing about video games for small fan sites when he realized he should probably do something with his communications degree and didn't want to get into the grind of daily reporting. Joining the team in late 2008, Joe is the featured game reviewer for Cheat Happens, producing up to 10 CHEATfactor Game Reviews per month.
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