Now, after the launch of the new Simcity, this review score seems way too low and the review unnecessarily harsh - I think I will have to try this game out. Everything the review complains about in this game exists in the new Simcity, except that, in Cities XL, these systems actually work. Simcity needed another year in the oven. I think I'm going to go try this next time it's on a steam sale.
Cities XL 2012 merely adds some new buildings and maps to the otherwise identical Cities XL 2011.
- Streamlined take on city building focusing on zoning, not individual buildings
- Wide-open sandbox missions set in varied terrain
- Adds a fair number of new buildings and maps to Cities XL 2011.
- Virtually the same game as Cities XL 2011
- Annoying issues with resources and trading
- Performance problems with larger cities.
Playing a virtual mayor may be a lot more enjoyable than doing it in the real world. Cities XL 2012 simplifies the messy rigmarole that comes with running a municipality; you eliminate things like labor problems, uptight councillors, and calls from angry residents about raccoons getting into garbage cans in favor of focusing on urban planning. Developer Focus Home Interactive does an impressive job on this big picture, too, thanks to a wide variety of map terrain and a straightforward interface that make it easy to build the metropolis of your dreams. But there is one big problem: You've seen it all before. This game is a complete rehash of Cities XL 2011, with only some new buildings and maps added to the feature set. While the publisher is making no secret that this is more of an expansion than a full-blown sequel and is offering an upgrade to owners of last year's game for $15, there still isn't enough fresh content to warrant a purchase.
If you're familiar with Cities XL 2011, then surprise, you're already familiar with Cities XL 2012. This is pretty much the same game, albeit with around 300 new buildings (a mostly cosmetic change that gives neighborhoods a revamped look with things like deluxe waterfront homes) and 15 new maps on which to ply your city-building talents. The heart of the game still beats exactly as it did last year. You play virtual mayor of a budding burg on maps that represent terrain of all types found in every corner of the globe. Just about everything you could imagine is represented here, from fertile valleys and deserts to rocky wastelands and island paradises. Each comes with fairly distinct challenges that mostly involve how to best manipulate the terrain and how to deal with resource shortages in crucial areas like water and oil. As with the earlier games in the series, there is no campaign here. Instead, you freely go from one map to the next and develop cities that coexist as part of a shared global economy. So even though you're not following any sort of storyline, you are building cities that can work together.
Mechanics follow the modern city-building template laid out in SimCity 4 back in 2003. You have godlike control over every aspect of urban planning, which allows you the freedom to lay down residential, commercial, and industrial zones where homes, offices, factories, stores, and the like automatically pop up as soon as the dust clears. While you do construct some specific buildings, like schools, police stations, and high-rise hotels, most of the time, you're drawing huge runs of city blocks that soon become home to apartment buildings and Dunder Mifflin-styled office complexes. So, build it and they will come. There are some complications that mainly have to do with the need to build different housing for unskilled, skilled, executive, and elite working classes, as well as balance standard residential houses with denser developments, such as townhouses, apartments, and condos, as your city grows. Regardless, you couldn't ask for more of a no-nonsense economic system.
Cartoonish graphics with laid-back sound effects and music add to the easygoing atmosphere. Neighborhoods are attractive, but they're so neat and clean that they come off as unrealistic. Lawns are all perfectly manicured, and there isn't a scrap of litter to be found anywhere, let alone something truly scarring to the urban landscape, like graffiti. If you zoom down to street level, you can spot your bulbous citizens doing things like dancing on park benches and even possibly playing hacky sack. Audio effects include a basic range of urban noises along with building-specific sounds like what has to be the world's oldest dot-matrix printer churning away whenever you click on an office building. Soundtrack tunes are an impressively diverse series of cool jazz tracks that give the game a lot of personality. This isn't quite elevator music, although some of the songs make Steely Dan sound like The Sex Pistols.
As simple as the economic system here is, you still face some challenges when managing your city. Your citizens want good return on their tax dollars and have the audacity to demand amenities. These include jobs, reasonable health care, and safe neighborhoods covered by police stations and fire departments, as well as recreational opportunities like bowling alleys and swimming pools. You have to keep the people pleased or they will move away, leaving businesses without employees and you with dropping tax revenue. Everything is quite well balanced, though. Serious pitfalls are few and far between so that you are free to build some spectacular municipalities after a short time with the game. Unlike many other city-builder games, there are no big gotcha moments, where the game design breaks down over buildings that don't work, neighborhoods that residents can never seem to escape to find a job even though there are a dozen factories just a few blocks away, and so forth.
When it comes to graphics, this game is massively rewarding. So it makes natural sense that a very basic pc just won't hack it. However, with the settings put on their basic level and a fairly workable processor/graphics you can play it no problem. I played this game on my five year old HP Pavillion DV7 with everything set to either low or medium and managed to get several cities to the 300k range. It did struggle a bit at that level but a downgrade in graphics detail usually fixed the issue. Currently on my brand new Samsung (Running a Nvidia 650m graphics card) it runs nearly perfectly at max settings. I tone it down for smoothness but it's hardly required.If you enjoy city-builders and you like the hands on approach to dealing with urban sprawl, I can't recommend a better game than Cities XL. I own both the original and the new 2012 edition, there are many more improvements that didn't make this article. The only negative thing that I can say, is that I missed the macro-economics that played heavily in 2011 and has been replaced by the mega-corp you deal with in 2012.
Very disappointing game. I wasted 25 dollars on this game and I've only played it 4 times. If you want a better game like this, choose simcity.
Over 100.000/200.000 population to freeze computer??? hahaha you are lucky, mine is unplayable at 75.000 pop. on Cities XL 2011. That's like using only 20% of map...
Win 7 32bit
Athlon 7750 Dual Core 2.70ghz
the worst thing about this game is that it needs a supercomputer.. if your city gets larger and goes over 100 000/200 000 citizens, it freezes...
I got a lot of enjoyment out of the 2011 version after they ditched the MMO features but this review is totally correct. The trading system gets way too unweildly after your cities grow larger. The biggiest problem is that if at any time you stop having a positive cash flow for a month, the game automatically cancels ALL your trades that you had setup which can screw up your economy in a hurry. This is a terrible bug that I'm not sure is fixed in this version. The other main problem is that having to build 2 or 3 large cities is far too time consuming if you just want to build one. And you have to build your resource cities up very large and have them specifically setup to specialize in just 1 resource in order to have enough surplus for your main city. Some may find this challenge very rewarding. I did at first but after a while it gets too complicated and frustrating to manage. I would still recommend the game however to any city building fan as it's the only modern sim city style simulation around.