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Old 11-20-2011, 11:33 PM   #1
Rob Williams
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Default Cities XL 2012 Review

It's almost ironic that it would take the desire to create an MMO for the last survivor of the city-builder genre to come to life. The latest incarnation of that survivor is Cities XL 2012. It's not an MMO, but rather a traditional city-builder sim that tries to cater to old-school SimCity fans. Does this game do enough to fill that void?

Read through Mario's in-depth look at Cities XL 2012 and then discuss it here!
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Old 11-22-2011, 07:04 PM   #2
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Great review once again, Mario. I had high hopes for Cities XL 2011 when I gave it a go last year, but I just couldn't get into it. It might be that I just lack patience, or it felt too clunky from the get-go. I do know one thing though... there's a lot of eye candy to be had.

The first sim game I remember ever becoming addicted to was SimCity 2000... and I still consider it to be a true classic to this day. I never got into the follow-up games because I found them to be far too complicated. SimCity 3 suddenly wanted me to worry about underground resources, and 4 just amplified things. That might be fine with some, but it made the game complex enough where I felt I couldn't enjoy it.

It was for that reason that I hoped the company would reinvent itself with SimCity 5, but of course we know where that idea went - to the pits to die, like the plans that most companies have prior to being acquired by EA. *sigh*

Cities XL does look like a game that I -could- get into, but certain things bug me about it - namely, the memory leak issue. It's not that I'd run into that problem much at all (I do have 12GB of the stuff), but the fact that the company can't be bothered to fix it is, well, inexcusable. I'd just expect more for a game that costs $40 that's more of an expansion pack than anything.
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Old 11-26-2011, 01:08 PM   #3
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I still play SC3000 sometimes (Oddly enough I was in awe of the visuals of XL 2012 since I never got SC4). I found SC3000 too simple (if you turned off disasters - sorry, I don't believe the mayor should have to manually rebuild roads that disappeared after a tornado - really?) after you followed this formula:

1. Build basic city
2. When you run out of cash, borrow
3. Invest in projects that will bring in revenue
4. Pay off debts
5. Lower taxes to a reasonable level and watch city explode
6. ???????????
7. PROFIT! (and huge successful city)
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:44 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Williams View Post
SimCity 3 suddenly wanted me to worry about underground resources, and 4 just amplified things. That might be fine with some, but it made the game complex enough where I felt I couldn't enjoy it.
This was a real problem with the SimCity series, as Maxis started to incorporate both user requests for new features and their own vision of the game that did include the idea of a grand and detailed sim.

It's no doubt that SimCity remains to this day the deluxe example of this genre, deserving an obligatory mention on any city builder sim discussion. But it also gained a reputation for being far too complex and too demanding of the player willingness to learn how to play. This just didn't work out for most people -- and while strong supporters of the game may refuse to see past it, the fact is that it was exactly this that essentially killed the series, as the game became no longer an attractive and financially viable project for a company like Maxis under the EA flag.

In my opinion SC4 came late in the video gaming market, just when players where starting to be introduced into less demanding games. If it's true that during the 90s games could ship with >50 page manuals or ask players to map their dungeons on a piece of paper, the 00s shifted the burden onto developers to abstract complex game mechanisms, which initiated players in the woes and banes of simple, to-the-point, no manual gameplay. All, so the video game market could be enlarged as much as possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Williams View Post
but the fact that the company can't be bothered to fix it is, well, inexcusable. I'd just expect more for a game that costs $40 that's more of an expansion pack than anything.
I still have trouble deciding what to think about this.

One one side my very vocal consumer activist goes red eyed just to think that through 3 versions of the game we still are experiencing the same issues. And a memory leak, of all things! Also the fact we are still playing the same game and no attempts whatsoever where made to move into a multi-threaded game engine (on a sim, no less!) makes me just want to diss the game and not recommend it.

But this position conflicts with the fact that it is also true this is the last of the pure city builder games and it is being sustained by a publisher that is, judging by their recent releases history, going through some financial difficulties. For that I feel like cuddling them and thank them.

In the past 2 years this company released only 4 games. And all of them (including CitiesXL) are games with very modest reach. Some indies out there are certainly selling 10x in one year what Focus Home Interactive probably did in 2.

It's just impossible to ask a publisher, that until CitiesXL never, even once, signed a game as a developer, to make serious amends to an engine they didn't even build. Much less to write a new one from scratch so it runs in more than one thread. And considering the possible lack of funds they are facing, I just don't even think about it.

So this is one of those things I leave for the reader. It's up to them to decide whether they accept this and put their money on the game, or just refuse it and not. Won't even risk a suggestion. What I can guarantee is that the is actually fun to play and well made. But it's also very clear this game isn't probably going anywhere in the future. I'd risk it's possible that this game will cease to exist in the near future.
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