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Overview

Cities XL 2012 is a city building 'simulator' developed and published by Focus Home Interactive. It is an iterative successor, almost expansion pack, to Cities XL 2011, and offers identical gameplay with an extended library of buildings and maps available to the player along with some new modding tools. A cheaper 'upgrade version' is available to owners of Cities XL 2011, making the transition to the new release more attractive to existing fans.

The core concept is to build a city from scratch, expanding your population while balancing your budget and keeping your populous happy. These simple precepts fan out to become an immersive and surprisingly complex interaction between the factors that the city needs to prosper, and it is by no means impossible to fail spectacularily though the game does a good job of showing you the ropes.

Gameplay

The game has several short tutorials which will show you the basic of managing your city, interspersed with somewhat humorous interaction between the arrogant mayor of your tutorial city and his chief adviser. Once you complete these, which should take you no more than half an hour or so, you are all set and ready to brave the challenges of managing your own city.

When starting a new game, or continuing from an existing city, you are shown a three dimensional map of the fictional world in which the game is set. It is interspersed with 60 different locations on which you can begin your city. Each one is one of a set of different landscape types, and each has certain strengths or weaknesses when it comes to resource availability. The four resources; Oil, Fertile areas, Water and Holiday can have up to three star ratings, and while some have one of each others may have three of one and nothing on the rest. This encourages the player to make multiple cities and specialize in each so that you can create trade routes between them to support your city once it grown beyond a certain point. It is much cheaper to trade with other player cities than it is to trade with the npc entity.

You begin with an empty map and must proceed to build a city hall, a utility center and your first road. Every building or plot must be connected to a road, otherwise they will be useless and empty. You build your first low density residential areas, shops and industry and wait as people move in and get jobs. Different forms of industry require different numbers of skilled or unskilled workers and the game keeps you constantly up to date as to which is lacking in your city. The toolbar is easy to navigate and full of useful information which will make your city management much easier, so keep an eye out! Once your city reaches certain thresholds in population numbers, cash flow or other goalposts you earn 'achievements' which flash up on screen in yellow splendor, and at certain milestones you unlock new buildings, zones and services. These new services then become necessary (police, fire, education etc), but are costly and have limited range. When all your services begin unlocking is when the actual challenge begins, as your population will swiftly become unhappy when they don't have enough of what they need, and this will lead to some negative consequences.

The ultimate constructions are megastructures, which are big building projects inspired by real historical buildings such as the EIffel Tower or Empire State. These massive projects require blueprints, and have special requirements in the form of resource tokens and long build times and are the icing on the cake of any late-game metropolis.

Reception and Criticism

The game received mediocre reviews from the few major reviewers who reviewed the game. The prevailing impression is that it is very similar to it's predecessors and while refined somewhat does little to move the genre forward.

Strategyinformer gave it a 6/10 and points out that: "...is pretty much the same as 2011 and the 2011 edition is also remarkably similar to the original Cities XL..." and "...this is a solid – but flawed – title."

Ausgamers gave it a 5/10 and said: "So, with great respect to fantastic sandbox that’s hidden under all of the various bugs, glitches and broken feature mechanics, it’s hard to recommend this one to anyone who doesn’t have a (very) strong urge to build their own metropolis."

One of the primary community criticisms focuses on performance. The game only runs on one core, and even the most powerful i7 processors will struggle and slow during late-game play as the city gets larger. This is a relic from the original Cities XL game code which Focus Home Interactive bought from Monte Cristo Multimedia when they went defunct after the original Cities XL failed to live up to expectations back in 2009-2010. While a community 'hack' in the form of a background process manages to distribute the processing over several cores for Cities XL 2011, a similar patch has per 31.10.2011 not become available for this newest release.

System Requirements

  • OS: Microsoft Windows XP SP3, Vista SP1 or 7
  • CPU: Intel/AMD 2,5 GHz or higher
  • RAM: 1 GB (XP), 2 GB (Vista/7)
  • GFX: ATI Radeon HD 3850 / INTEL HD Series / NVIDIA Geforce 8800 or better
  • GFX RAM: 512 MB
  • DX: 9.0c
  • HDD: 9 GB free hard disk space

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