|Your starting map...one of scores available|
Over the years I have re-visited this genre in the form of Sim City 3000 (the underground water works ruined it for me), Ceasar III, Tropico III (I love the III's), and now Cities XL 2012. If you've played any city building games in the past you will be on familiar ground with Cities XL- and that's a good thing. It is the classic formula of design and balance. You build houses for the people, buildings for them to work in, leisure for them to play, police/fire to protect, schools to educate, offices/factories to work in......... well, you get the idea.
There is a lot of customization available in the game with 'packs' that includes mountain buildings, beach buildings, American buildings, and European -style buildings. I am assuming the designers are planning on adding more in the form of downloadable content, but I have no idea. It would be cool, though, and if implemented I'll take a 3% cut on profits for the suggestion, thank you very much. You can see in the picture below that I have created a very inefficient and congestion-building medieval village in the midst of my modern city on the edge of my farmland (agricultural industry).
|Loving the Medieval Buildings|
There is a progression element to the game as you need a certain population in the city to unlock new buildings, roads, services and neighborhood types. Flashy 'achievements' pop up when you reach these milestones and handy map filters allow you to check on everything from vacant jobs to traffic congestion.
One feature I've not encountered before, and quite like, is the fact that you city is on an earth-like planet with all the others cites that you choose to build. Gone is the old 'build this city then move on' concept that I'm used to. Each city can trade with others so if you have an oil-rich city you can trade that black gold away for food, vacations, or waste-removal. As I am only on my second, very small city (less than 50k populations in both) I haven't fully explored this. Until you build your own trading partners you can trade with the AI Omni-Corp for cash and resources. My current city is raking it in from oil revenues.
I'm not very far into the game but I am really liking what I see so far, and I find it extremely hard to stop playing once I load it up. The only drawback, thus far, is it seems to be a bit of a CPU resource hog. I am finding the delays between clicks (to change from certain views or to select construction tools) unacceptably long in some cases and it appears to get worse as the city grows (and more CPU resources are used I assume). I know I read a review somewhere (sorry I can't remember where) that pointed out this problem and stated the game was not optimized for newer quad core machines. If at 50k it's a few seconds of lag I'm wondering how things will run when I get cities of 1 million.
I'll be posting on this again as I progress but so far I say it's definitely worth a play.