It is unfair to label any city building game that comes out at this point in time as a SimCity clone. The problem is that there really just haven’t been that many good entries in the genre in the last decade that made any form of an impact. However, Cities XL has managed to moisturize this genre draught.
At its very core the game is basically a super advanced SimCity 2000 updated for modern computers and play styles. The wonderful thing about that, which most people have probably forgotten at this point in time, is that the early SimCity games were funny. That humor has found its way firmly into Cities XL from the way that most of the shops are named, sometimes to the point of insanity, to the way the art style itself doesn?t even seem to take anything seriously even when the player has zoomed in to stalk the inhabitants as they go about their daily life. It has been awhile since a city building game has managed to warrant even the slightest chuckle, but Cities XL seemingly found a way.
The importing and exporting of goods is something else that is rather unique to this game. All of the cities that are built exist inside of the same world in game, meaning that goods can be both imported and exported from all the cities of this gaming world. Ideally, this means that if one city is running low on manufactured goods, it can import some from another city in exchange for their excess water supply.
The problem with this is that the game seems to start to collapse under its own weight the larger that any city gets. For expert gamers, this might seem like the ideal challenge to keep it all interesting, but for most people the first couple of hours with any one area will probably be way more than enough before people start moving out because they are bored with the one and only local bowling alley. It quickly becomes a problem that larger cities seem to be entirely more fragile than smaller ones, and the slightest tilt is a chance to change the population. It all ends up being a balancing act that can have one new business send the entire experience spiraling out of control.
Another odd thing about the game is the way that residential areas are laid out. Instead of just saying high or low density housing, the game comes right out and says if it is for unskilled workers or some other class of worker. While it is odd, the different classes are almost treated like a good that must be exchanged like the rest of the local business goods. Doing so almost gives the impression that this is how a real city planner ends up seeing people.
The game does have odd quirks to it, but it is definitely worth all the days that I have lost playing it. The game is also only priced at 40 dollars, which seems like a massive steal when compared to other new PC games that are slowly trying to push the standard price point up to the 60 dollar range. Not that the price ends up justifying all of the odder parts of the game, but clearly awards it more room to be entirely more quirky.
Considering many of the missteps that the newer SimCity games have taken I am more than happy to say that Cities XL is more than able to contain the mantle of spiritual successor. Like those games before it, this series has the ability to steal entirely good days in the blink of an eye and only reward the player with a sense of wonder and accomplishment. The game is simply good enough that anyone with a PC that can run it should buy it.
Not As Good As: Owning an entire city
Also Try: Tropico 3
Wait For It: Any amount of the numerous expansions
Stay with MyGamer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mygamernews