Cities XXL Review
Simulation city-building games have been popular ever since the release of the highly acclaimed and somewhat revolutionary Sim City franchise began. While games that allow the player to control locations or people have always had a niche, Sim City created the ability to not just control one small sub-section of a society, like a theme park or a mall, but allowed players to control an entire city.
With the player usually acting as the mayor of said city, they make decisions about labor and production for their citizens and must gauge how important the citizens’ happiness is in their decision-making as well. All of these factors work hand-in-hand to create a fully-immersive experience, and games since have made a serious effort to mimic that addictive quality.
Finding a Niche
The company behind the original game in the Cities franchise, Monte Cristo, experimented with a variety of game structures as they grew as a company. However they finally found their place with the release of 2006’s city-building simulator, City Life. It received mostly mixed reviews and Monte Cristo sought to improve with its sequel Cities XL. However, this release was also met with a mostly mixed reception, though critics praised the company for pushing the genre in the right direction. Shortly after Cities XL’s release, a company called Focus Home Interactive bought the rights to the franchise and decided to take some big steps of their own.
More of the Same?
In Cities XXL, the franchise’s newest release, players were promised a “bigger, more complete city-builder pushing the city limits to the edge of your imagination.” Perhaps this promise was too grand, because shortly after its release on Steam, Cities XXL started to collect quite the mass of negative reviews. Most critics complained that the game is not a big enough departure from its previous installment and that not enough innovation was brought to the table for the third in the series.
The actual gameplay featured in Cities XXL is for the most part very enjoyable. The player is given a large portion of land on which to create their sprawling city. The game offers a quick and helpful tutorial, but somehow things still feel somewhat unexplained at times. Keeping a healthy ratio of suburban homes, housing for workers, and businesses for them to contribute to is key.As the city’s finances grow, it can multiply in size and the ability to continue to build, build, build can be exhilarating. However, Cities XXL suffers from what appears to be simplistic gameplay.
No achievements or accomplishments feel that difficult for a player to reach, and the game starts to actually become a bit monotonous at times. Despite good ideas and a decent structure, Cities XXL struggles to find a good balance and almost feels a bit unfished or maybe even as if it were rushed to release.
Cities XXL is a fun purchase for those who have not played the previous games in the franchise and enjoy city-builders at their core. For those familiar with the prior games, they might find themselves with a case of déjà vu. The Cities franchise has a large amount of potential, and perhaps if Focus Home Interactive listens to the advice and pleas from its fan base they will be able to release a patch that solves some of the issues being called out.
For the time being Cities XXL has a hefty price at $39.99 and may be best purchased when the price goes down and with slightly lower expectations than the mission statement originally released with it.