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"Cities XL" Review (PC)

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating

By

Box Cover © Monte Cristo.
Publisher: Monte Cristo
Developer: Monte Cristo
Genre: City Building
Platform: DVD
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Release Date: October 9, 2009
Other Platforms: None

Pros:

  • Easy to learn
  • Farming towns possible
  • 3D graphics

Cons:

  • Monthly subscription required for features that should be included
  • buggy, as of 10/2009

"Cities XL" Features

  • Build a city in full 3D graphics.
  • 25 maps to build your city on a variety of terrains.
  • 500 buildings inspired by American, Asian, and European designs.
  • 4 types of citizens with different wealth levels.
  • An array of road construction tools, including small farm roads and avenues.
  • Build a city with retail, farming, or industrial business.
  • A Planet Offer subscription gets your cities online and trading resources.

"Cities XL" Review

Cities XL Panoramic ScreenshotScreenshot © Monte Cristo.
I've decided it's impossible to start this review out without mentioning "SimCity." It's the first city builder the majority of gamers know and love, and years without an update. The mere mention of a new city building and everyone is clamoring to know whether it could be our next "SimCity 5." It's a tall order for any developer to meet. Thankfully that doesn't stop them from trying.

You will design a modern day city in "Cities XL." Tutorials guide you through the building process. Laying down industrial, commercial, and residential zones is done in a couple of different ways. It's all are as easy as clicking and pointing. Nothing complicated. Decide to make your own custom shape zone or use the automatic tool. Not all buildings are zoned. City services are placed individually, as well as, select commercial and resources.

A headache you cannot avoid is city traffic. Residents can't teleport themselves to work! "Cities XL" comes with more road construction options than previous city builders have. Roads can be curved and follow on a straight path at 90 degree angles only. That in itself lends to realistic city planning. The downside - roads have to bulldozed before upgrading. Trust me, it's more inconvenient than it sounds.

And of course, it wouldn't be realistic without complaints from the residents. Something can always be improved (maybe in their eyes, right?). Overlays let us know how we are performing. The beginning of a city can be frustrating, as residents want unavailable buildings or services (like qualified work). Typical. We want what we can't have. Planning ahead and leaving room for buildings pays off. I've found it's not easy bulldozing the homes of my virtual people.

Online play is what makes "Cities XL" different from other city builders. Subscribing to the Planet Offer opens features not found in solo mode, mass transit for one. No one wants to pay a subscription. Good part new is the fee isn't too bad at approximately $9 a month. Trading resources with real players is easier and more reasonable than dealing with the AI. Players do not need to be online to suggest a trade. Request notifications are sent through email.

"Cities XL" has all the basics a city builder needs - zoning, ploppable buildings, statistics, 3D graphics. Unfortunately, to get the most out of the game you need to subscribe to the Planet Offer. Monte Cristo has plans to continue to update and add new features. The game as is today is buggy and feels incomplete. In time "Cities XL" could be a good pickup for gamers willing to pony up the subscription fee.

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