Recently I’ve been telling my wife that I really wished EA would make another SimCity game as I really enjoyed those growing up and I have no idea why the franchise just died.
Well it didn’t die it turned into The Sims which is a stain on the good name of the Sim titles. Anyway moving on, it appears that Apex International may have my house bugged as low and behold not 3 days later a copy of Cities XL 2012, developed not by EA but rather by Focus Home Interactive, lands on my desk.
Now I understand that I may upset a whole bunch of people now but I’d never heard of Cities XL, granted I must have seen it somewhere at some point but I’d never taken much attention of it never mind installing a version before.
So this is all new to me, but the game starts up and you are taken through a tutorial with some annoyingly stupid characters pretending to be a mayor a finance person helper thing.. I couldn’t have cared less at this point about their story and just wanted to get into building the greatest city mankind has ever known. Lazytown…
The idea is simple, you need to create a town from scratch by starting off with a Town Hall and adding some housing for unskilled workers by selecting that option from the menu on the left and dragging out the required space. A nice feature in this is that the electricity, water and road networks are included in the housing tool so you don’t have to worry about any of that.
After creating some low cost housing we needed to give them some low level jobs by selecting that and placing it somewhere on the map. I placed it a good 10 minute drive from the area they were living in to try reduce the pollution but then no one started working because I hadn’t connected that area up to my Town Hall area with a road. So you do have to do some roads.
I opted for some cheap road, a mistake that would come back to haunt me in a few hours time when the road was completely congested. But at least people started working and very soon my ingame notification system was telling me I needed somewhere for skilled workers to live and then work. And then after I had a few of them I needed to build some homes for the executive, naturally I put them on the beach front far away from the rest of the rabble.
The rest of the game goes as expected, you need to build different levels of housing, commerce and retail to keep your citizens happy while also providing security, fire stations and education. Oh and healthcare all of which can be seen by selecting different overlapping views of your town which will show you which areas are under serviced and where the problems are.
You earn achievements through bringing in more people and as you level up you unlock new options such as medium (flats) and high density (skyscrapers) housing as well as high tech and unique companies.
To be honest I don’t think I’ve really scratched the surface of the game as after I’d been playing for around 6 hours I installed a complex and over the top metro (subway) system which no one used and my town started to lose oodles of money very quickly until it became apparent that I had bankrupted Lazytown…
I could go back and try save it now but I don’t want to, it’s a blight on my good name and in the morning it’s going to suffer the deadly natural disaster of being overwritten by LazyMetropolis and then my world domination will continue.
And when I say world domination I really do mean it. Cities XL 2012 doesn’t limit you to one town, there are tons of available spots all over the planet that you can use to setup new towns and as you create more and more cities you are then able to start trading between them.
So my next city may rather be a horrible cesspit of power stations and mining that will simply trade power to the rest of my beautiful clean and efficient cities… I think I’ll call it Pretoria.
Gameplay – 8/10
It’s a city building game so the gameplay isn’t really that indepth but at the same time there are a ton of options and the amount of things you need to consider at the same time is mind boggling.
Unfortunately the controls aren’t great and getting your city to look exactly how you want can be virtually impossible.
Design and Presentation – 6.5/10
I’m pretty sure SimCity 2000 looked better than this, it could be nostalgia talking but either way this is not a pretty game. You do have the ability to zoom right down to street level though and I think that ‘feature’ is possibly the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in a city building game.
Value – 8/10
This one is the most subjective of the lot, if you enjoy city building games then the scope of this game is massive and will keep you entertained for years to come so that’s great. But that is all this is.
Overall – 8/10
Cities XL 2012 is simply a city builder, if that’s your thing and you’ve been wanting to get back to doing that since Sim City 2000 then you’ll be very happy with this title but be warned, it’s not the prettiest title out there and according to the Internet it’s not a great improvement over Cities XL 2011. But I haven’t played that so I really don’t know if that’s true or not.
Last Updated: December 5, 2011