Not without its flaws, Cities XL 2011 is THE followup to the Sim City franchise.
Great looking city builder
Tools allow for simple or complex cities
Massive number of total buildings (700+)
Ability to trade any and all "tokens" with your own cities
large number of varied maps and terrains to choose from
Runs MUCH better than Cities XL (2009)
Save system is a little funky
Trade window and pop ups can be buggy
Bridge clearances are way too high and bulky
Game can still bog down over time with very large populations
Cities XL 2011 is a great looking city builder with varied and balanced tools and options. Want to make elegant looking residential areas with curved roads using the "free style" tool? go right on. Want to make large organized rectangles for downtown? Do it. Want to make a bridge OR tunnel wherever the hell you want? Perfect. For the most part, it's really easy to make your city look like whatever you want it to look like. Curved roads and a multitude of road capacities make this possible. (you can right click on a tool and change the type of roads it uses and the number of units to use between roads)
Highways are the weakest part of the transportation aspect; you have few options and connecting them effectively to the rest of your network is incredibly difficult. You can make it work, but just don't expect it to be what you THINK it should be like.
As far as public transport goes, you have Busses and Metro. They are simple to set up (there's a tutorial if the concept they use is confusing to you) and effective in reducing traffic congestion if you do it correctly. They function much better than any sim city game. They function like you would expect them to in real life. You build a bus depot, and then just place different stops for a bus line (different depot's allow 3 or 7 bus lines per building). Metro lines require entrances, but you can connect different lines using all the same entrances you want, just like in real life, so people can transfer over.
You can expect all the typical city services and associated buildings and upgrades as your city grows. All services are easy to place efficiently, since the game utilizes road systems, as opposed to the circular radius from the sim city franchise. This works much better, since the spread of a building's effect accurately moves less down smaller roads, and further down larger roads. It's still a circular type deal, just using your road system. Green is the best coverage, and it turns yellow and fades out at the extremities. This makes it super easy to judge where to place more buildings.
The core of the game's citizens is this: you have 4 types, unskilled/skilled/executive/elite. Each type has low, medium and dense residential property. This makes for a very visually varied experience, as well as a challenge, since different types need more or less services.
Food, heavy, manufacturing, high tech and office are your industries. Each industry will require different amounts of other industries and utilities to fully function.
And of course utilities, you have electricity, water, fuel and waste. More on these later.
Lastly, you have Commerce, which houses your Business and "holiday" hotels, Retail (part of citizen satisfaction) and leisure: Basically you have a lot of "fun" buildings for the citizens to use, otherwise they get bored and yell at you.
The trade window allows you to trade in and out all of the resources you have too much of and too little of, which allows you to specialize cities. You can trade with the NPC Omnicorp, or with your other cities. You can trade EVERYTHING, including cash with your other cities. This is fantastic. Unfortunately the trade window sometimes does not communicate correctly with your income flow and it can be rather confusing. It may also be slightly buggy about what it's doing within itself, giving wrong cash amounts sometimes.
Each map type has benefits associated with it. You can only produce Water/Fuel/Holidays/Food on maps that provide it. Otherwise you have to trade for it. This can make certain maps better for certain specialized cities and some maps harder all together, if you have no resources at all.
Speaking of maps, all the maps are rated on a difficulty scale of 10 to 100, and display things such as amount of flat land and availability of intercity connections.
In order to trade you need intercity connections, which give you an amount of "freight" or "passenger" traffic. so if a connection gives you 20 freight, you now have an additional capacity of 20 freight tokens. Tokens are the extra (or needed) things you need. if you're producing an extra 5 office tokens, you can trade them out using 5 passenger units of capacity.
Technically, this game runs great. In a city of a million, it can be a bit laggy, but that's expected, considering the size of the game and everything it has to calculate. Getting up to a million people has generally taken me 15 hours of play on a map, but I'm kind of slow and i take forever to decide just how i want to build out my city across the map.
Speaking of that, the save menu is weird. It autosaves your game AND you can click a save menu and manually save. However, when you leave the game, it autosaves anyway. I didn't realize there was a manual save feature, and the game crashed when trying to autosave (the game also only loads the last autosave, then you would have to load your own save). It corrupted the autosave and i lost 17 hours of gameplay. Frustrating? Yes. Avoidable? I don't completely know. I haven't had that happen again in the 30 hours I've spent with this game, so I'm not sure how easy it would be to repair the game by messing with the manual saves in the hidden folder in your users folder.
What do I rate this game? 8.5/10. To me, it's an official replacement for the Sim City franchise. It covers all the established city builder expectations, and expands immensely in areas that were in dire need. Is it perfect? Not at all, but it's fun and addicting, and that's what matters.
I'm sure I missed a lot, but there is a massive game. Have fun!