Traffic signals one of the few things almost everyone inherently trusts, yet the pandemonium you could cause if you had them under your control is immense. TrafficCity, though handing you the keys to this asphalt-laden kingdom, expects you to be a little more responsible, however.
In fact, rather than causing carnage, TrafficCity is all about keeping control of the reams of traffic as they head towards each other, maintaining a balance that keeps the cars moving without holding up one line longer than any other.
It is, essentially, a game of time management, calling upon the same kind of skill-set needed to conquer the likes of Flight Control or Aqua Globs. Using just a tap of your finger to switch sets of lights from green to red and back again, you take charge of twenty different road junctions, the task on each and every single one being to escort cars in and out of the junction without stacking the traffic up too far back.
As the cars begin to queue, either behind a red light, or in the worst cases, behind another line of waiting traffic, they snake off screen. If too many are sat out of view, the game comes to an end, red numbers appearing at the end of the road letting you know how many cars are waiting.
But keeping everything flowing is nearly impossible beyond the first few seconds of every junction. Success means sacrificing some lines for a short period in order to stop others building up, the trick being to keep an eye on each and every one to make sure one line doesn't suffer any longer than it needs to.
Each and every action you take also triggers others around the map, switching one set of lights to green automatically turning the corresponding set on the same part of the junction to red. Collisions are impossible here, so TrafficCity never allows you to set any up by switching all of the lights to green. Instead, the game's calamity comes in the form of stalemate, a conglomerate of cars building up in the centre a sure sign that the junction is clogged, and the 'game over' screen isn't far off.
Managing to get a set amount of cars out of the junction before this happens is the aim in standard play, though TrafficCity does come with two other modes to keep things fresh, a survival mode simply charging you with lasting as long as you can, and a timed mode giving you a target of five minutes to aim for.
But while play is simple enough, TrafficCity is not without its faults, namely the view. Zoomed out to include the whole road network, it can be hard to focus on just where the traffic is and isn't flowing simply because the roads are a little small and a distance away, while tapping the traffic lights themselves is often met with a delayed response, resulting in continued tapping to set the lights straight that only confuses the issue.
It could do with a touch more spit and polish, in truth, the visuals also a little too plain and the sound nothing more than the odd chorus of tooting car horns.
Though TrafficCity isn't perfect, it remains an entertaining way to test your management skills without having to take on a league of complicated controls or aims. A simple case of maintaining balance, TrafficCity is an unspectacular but playable time management sim that serves as the perfect brain teaser should you become stuck in a traffic jam of your own.