Top critical review
31 people found this helpful
Decent city-builder but hoping for more
on February 20, 2012
As a life-long fan of the sim city series, I was pretty excited to give Cities XL2012 a shot. The first few hours are pretty entertaining, but the game doesn't seem to hold my attention after that. I don't even mind the lack of real objectives or concrete goals, but the little annoyances keep adding up and over time make the game more trouble than it's worth.
This game really struggled on my older machine at population 100k, but I've recently started playing on my newer custom built (i7 2600k, 8 GB Ram, m7 SSD, GTX 570) and even after passing 1 million citizens it runs fine.
Overall the graphics are pretty superb. There are some nicely done little details here and there that catch you by surprise. Once your city gets large though, you'll see the same building models repeated quite a lot.
I appreciate the grid building tools that allow you to easily lay out rectangular or customizable patterns quickly. That said, it's really annoying that switching between density levels results in varied grid sizes. As a result, it's tough to place zones of varying density close to each other without seriously screwing up your road alignment. I would also like to be able to switch to default road type that the zoning tools use.
Road construction is nice overall, connecting somewhat complicated curvy roads is painless. That said, sometimes things that seem like they should work, simply don't. "Fast lanes" (i.e., interstates) are also painful to use. In particular, it's annoying that you cannot add an exit to an existing interstate. You have to delete the entire road, build the exit, then re-build the road around it. Traffic patterns around complicated interstate intersections also seem to get screwed up. On the flip side, bus and subway construction is much more intuitive.
Utilities & Resources
This is one of the low points for me. Most of the maps only have a small subset of the resources you need and even the ones they have are not sufficient for large cities. I have a city of over 1 million and I think I have 10 or 12 of the largest power plants. Perhaps it's time for a nuclear option? Also, there's a lot of ambiguity here. When trying to fulfill my city's waste needs, it's unclear to me how to balance junkyards vs landfills. I have no idea how many power plants I need to build to fulfill an energy deficit of 4. Oftentimes you end up having to trade. This means you either have to build other cities, probably dedicated to the resources you need, or you can trade with omnicorp for absurd amounts of money.
Services (fire, health, safety)
I really like how this is done. Each category has building of various capacity, and it shows you the reach of a given building before you actually construct it. It's simple, it's effective. Nicely done.
Services (education, leisure, hotels)
Now for the bad side of services. Education is close to the above group, but there's some confusion. You have access to schools for various ages. Do I really need to provide 4 different levels of school coverage to every residential area? I've done lots of testing and it's still unclear to me. Leisure is even worse. Why do I have to build bowling alleys and paintball places? Shouldn't that be done for me in commercial zones? The amount of time and effort it takes to fulfill people's need for leisure is extremely annoying and doesn't add any fun. I would be onboard with some things (e.g., museums, theme parks, etc...) but the granularity here is crazy. Likewise for hotels. Really? I have to build motels myself, to prevent commercial offices from failing? Shouldn't these also be done automagically in commercial zones?
Overall I really wanted to love this game but it comes up short. I do think this game, and its engine, has a lot of promise. Hopefully another version arrives which fixes many of these issues, but in the meantime I'll keep my fingers crossed for Sim City 5.