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Cities XL 2011 PC Review - -

Gameplay 7.9
Graphics 8.5
Sound 7.0
Value 8.0
Distributor: QVS
Review Date:
October 2010
Kyle Sudukis


Cities XL 2011

Cities XL was reminiscent of the awesome Will Wright game Sim City, however for us, it was a lot more realistic. It that took micro management to another level as the player was turned into a virtual mayor.

This was not an arcade city builder but something that required finesse and tactical strategies in order to ensure your Utopia was quite inhabitable to not only your citizens but also to newcomers to your majestic fantasy city.

The original Cities XL had some appeal but allowing you the ability to link your city with other people from around the world in order to trade and share resources. Unfortunately it was quite limited and there was no real sense of community or connectedness.

This also came at a monthly cost to the player and considering the limited connectivity, this did turn quite a few people off. To an extent, certain parts of the online game worked but in terms of interactivity with other online games, it felt quite flat, including the online server.

So here we are again as Focus Home Interactive has re-launched the series by acquiring the original game and hopefully addressing certain issues with the previous game.

By playing this game for almost two weeks now and at times quite religiously, I must admit that Focus have actually improved on the original premise. Thank god they targeted the single-player game and not that online dribble.

The biggest change for me, is the improved micro management system that allows more options to the player and more importantly a hell of a lot more buildings to choose from, 700 to be exact.

Just be warned, all these buildings will make your PC work and even though the specifications are relatively low-end, to play this game successfully, a high-end PC is recommended. Even on our test machine, when the city was quite populated, it did chug along at times.

Another new option in Cities XL 2011 is the ability to link your cities together which in turn allows you to share resources and services with neighbouring cities. Moving your resources and citizens is done through the added transport options as you create bridges, tunnels and the like.

Without this, your cities infrastructure will collapse horribly. Then you have death and more importantly taxes which are controlled by the mayor of the city. If tweaking taxes is too complicated, there is an option to "dumb" this down for the more inexperienced player but it's a great way to make revenue.

As mayor, you also need to ensure that your people are happy as you setup trade routes, create entertainment venues and a strong economy for your city to pay for its upkeep and make it attractive to those who wish to migrate. Buildings are linked into three types that include residential, commercial and industrial but once again, a balance must be found where to play them.

As a reward to good "mayoring" if such a word exists are the trophies which are given to the player for achieving certain goals or for being just a damn good mayor. For me, it's not easy to build the perfect city and the temptation to create the ultimate entertainment city is sometimes too strong. In turn, you really need to hold off the enticements to build everything because by moving slowly and listening to your cities need, you will succeed.

With that said, some thought must also be used in order to successfully positions these homes and buildings and to throw another spanner in the works, you also have a variety of social classes.

Once your transport (roads, railways etc) are established, your citizens can then zoom around your city as they engage in their every day activities from work to leisure. Rich people don't like pollution or crime but poorer socio economically challenged citizens won't complain as much but trying to work this out is sometimes bigger than Ben Hur.

Graphically, this is one good looking title and the 3D effects are visually quite impressive. Add in 45 different maps and some very well designed buildings that allows you to zoom in and out and Cities XL 2011 is a good looking game. Apart from the great modelling of buildings and people doing their every day business around the city, the landscapes are quite detailed and there are a variety of different terrains to play on from beaches to forests and everything in between.

The term photorealistic does come into play here but just make sure you have something a bit more than the minimum system requirements. With your citizens, I don't know whether it's me or not but the people in your city look more normal than those weird looking humans of Cities XL. Oh... you can also play some real-world cities as well. The musical score serves as a nice background ambience and the sounds are very similar to those living in the big city.

In the end, Cities XL 2011 is far superior than the previous game and its only downfall is that it may be a little too complicated for some. However for someone looking for a rather realistic city building game that is connected to more than just building (ala economy) than you've come to the right place. Don't let the low scores of the previous game come into consideration here because they are definitely not justified for this title. (Shh... it's Sim City just BIGGER!)



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