Cities XL: The Urban Demo

Huzzah! The Cities XL demo is here, 1gb in breadth, for you to download, play, and then weigh on the platinum scales of consumer judgment. The new city-builder with an online dimension seems like it’s been in beta for about 47 years, but it’s actually only a few weeks. Nevertheless there’s been a marked improvement since the early wobbles, and this limited demo gives you a taste of that improved game with a city restricted to 22,000 inhabitants, built in a choice of three of the twenty five landscapes across the three teeming planets of the game.

I do believe we have a Cities XL interview in the pipeline, so keep an eye out for that, should you be buildingly inclined. Full demo info here.


  1. LactoseTheIntolerant says:

    *Downloads immediately*

  2. Ginger Yellow says:

    Huzzah! That’s my evening gone, then.

  3. ThornFalconeye says:

    “No download mirrors available in your area”

    I hope they go up for the central US within a few hours.

  4. pilouuuu says:

    Oh, please let this be the real next gen uber city simulator, instead of that Societies crap and as Sim City 5 will probably never get made.

  5. Anon says:

    I got the no download mirrors available too.

    Currently downloading it from link to

  6. Torgen says:

    DO WANT!

  7. Alez says:

    is this gonna be online kinda thing? as in with a monthly subscription or you just have multiplayer if you want to?

  8. lumpi says:

    @Alez: I’d like to know as well. I strongly dislike monthly fees when it comes to gaming– makes you feel like you’re wasting something if you do not spend every minute playing.

    I’d check out a singleplayer version of this, though.

  9. PC Monster says:

    Nifty timing. I was looking into getting SimCity 4 the other day based on the ravings of a friend. This should whet my appetite nicely.

  10. Xercies says:

    Downloading, i really like city Builders…the online aspect interests me but i hope you can sufficiantly build a city without othe players as well.

  11. ack says:

    Ugh, slowness that kills… has anyone found or posted a torrent perhaps?

  12. ack says:

    Sigh, beard-growingly slow download. Anyone seen a torrent somewhere (Google doesn’t seem to be in the know yet)?

  13. ack says:

    Oops, sorry for double-posting, borked browser seemingly :$

  14. Gabanski83 says:

    Wow, even that screenshot is beautiful. Might try nabbing this, very interested. And I’d like to know more about the pricing structure too.

  15. Cooper says:

    I’ve been wanting to play this. I’d have tried to get into the beta, but am away and only with my netbook… No 3D shenanigans for me…

  16. Torgen says:

    An hour later, and still two more hours to download… :P

  17. A Delicate Balance says:

    I’m getting there slowly – using a UK server from Canada. Can’t wait!

  18. min3mat says:


  19. PC Monster says:

    Uhh, what’s this about having to register to play a demo?

  20. PC Monster says:

    Info on the demo here:

    link to

  21. PC Monster says:

    Snap! :)

  22. Lack_26 says:

    I’ve had this demo downloaded for about 2 weeks now waiting for the servers to be up, yey!

  23. Ginger Yellow says:


    Ah. That probably explains my strange error on installing from the PC Gamer disc. It’s saying it can’t find key.xml and then refuses to run, even though it’s right there in the demo folder.

  24. Ginger Yellow says:

    Well, XP compatibility mode removes that error, but now it insists that I have an invalid login, even though it works on the CitiesXL website. Maybe the server’s having issues, or maybe it just really doesn’t like Windows 7.

  25. Sitting Duck says:

    That city in the pic is the best of the Beta, done by some urban planner. You can just make out on the right the starting area, with traditional european style urban sprawl. The mayor then expanded with two linked circular citylets. Beautiful stuff.
    However, after playing the beta i have to say this game didnt do it for me, and i love the sim cities games. Horrendous performance on my perfectly acceptable rig, and woe betide you actually attempt to make a circular road, or go above a certain population. Or get a plot of land that doesnt have oil as a natural resource. Or build too quickly. Or slowly. Or try to sink your motorways. Or any of a multitude of things that were both easier to do and more satisfying in sim city.

  26. Schwerpunk says:

    Only activated for seven days? Grhaah! I hate when they do that.

    I mean, there’s a chance I won’t even play it for that long, but what if I have a busy couple days, then where am I – huh? Where the fuck does that leave me, company’s-name-that-made-this.

    Anyway, it’s probably a wonderful game that I’ll end up buying…

    /e grumbles codgeringly.

  27. Xercies says:

    Is anyone else getting Two alert boxes saying you don’t have any adminstrator privaleges to install the game?

    Weird and I’m using Vista

  28. cliffski says:

    Bastards. I’ve been waiting for this game for years and I am waaaaaaaaay too busy to try it right now :(

  29. Batolemaeus says:

    Tried this for an hour and stumbled over so many bugs it just ain’t funny.
    To name a few, my mouse cursor was several px lower than its actual position, making clicking things much harder for me. Additionally, when i tried to see how to export/import stuff, i had a nasty window telling me it couldn’t find anything, only to occupy half of the screen without any ability to close it. Also, the game seems to freak out completely if you try to start it with more than one monitor active, and will not notice that my user account does not have admin rights, thus failing more or less silently trying to update, and crashing subsequently.

    I’ll wait with that one..

  30. Kingmarzo says:

    I have the same problem Xercies:

    Method verify Access failed

    Vista 64bit

  31. Xercies says:

    I’ve gone on a few german forums and it looks like along with Windows 7 this game doesn’t like 64 bit machnes Vista or XP.

  32. Schmung says:

    garck, 15k a sec. What is this, 1998!? Will try it again later. Been looking forward to this.

  33. Kingmarzo says:

    So no new systems can play it and all older computers are struggling with the amount of detail. Thats a clever move!

  34. Schwerpunk says:

    Can’t play it either. Hate to sound like a latté-sipping critic, but: Not impressed.

    This sounds more like a botched open beta than a grand demo unveiling.

  35. PanicProne says:

    I downloaded it. Installed it. Couldn’t play it.

    I had that annoying .xml missing file error, and I couldn’t register at all.

    Sorry to say this, but my experience with this “demo” can be best described as sh*tty.

  36. We Fly Spitfires - MMORPG Blog says:

    Never heard of Cities XL before? Is it like Sim City?

  37. Railick says:

    It’s like Simcity as an mmorpg

  38. Railick says:

    ER, MMO , lop off that RPG part.

    MMOCBS -Massively Multiplayer City Building Simulation O.o

    My question is, do the diffrent cities of players actually have any sort of interaction with each other or do they each exist without trading/sharing resources with other cities?

  39. Xercies says:


    From my guess cities are basically seperate fro meach other but some buildings require mateials that you may not have so you have to trade them. Also from what I’ve seen you can also go to a main city and talk to people and maybe if I got this right go to other cities as a spectator.

  40. Railick says:

    Very interesting, I will have to give it a try once my computer is re-internetafied

  41. A Delicate Balance says:

    I cannot play it – I only have Windows 7 64-bit machines in the house.

    *sad face*

  42. Mctittles says:

    For those complaining about the demo not working, I do not think it is officially released yet. Not sure where this download came from (maybe the pc gamer issue?) but the game website says the demo will not be available until Sept 8.

  43. Petethegoat says:

    This plays fine on my pc. I’ve not experienced any of the errors mentioned.
    That said, I’ve yet to work out how to actually build your own city, but messing about in the tutorials has been interesting. Pointless bridges for the win!

    In addition, the character generator is hilarious.

    Seriously though, does anyone know how to start your own city? It annoys me that I’m so limited by the tutorials.

  44. Railick says:

    Pointless bridges, is it in Sarah Palin mode? WHUAAZAH

  45. Nallen says:

    @Petethegoat – Play Online, Pick planet, pick location, play.

    Better go to bed now. Been on it 4 hours…

  46. Torgen says:

    I have to say that the developers have done an excellent job of hiding any information regarding fees/price on their website.

  47. Jason Lefkowitz says:

    Just getting the thing running is a game unto itself! Behold all the things you have to do before you can actually get around to city-building:

    1) Download ginormous installer
    2) Install
    3) Start demo, get told I need to create an account (eh wot?)
    4) Jump out to CitiesXL web site to create account (why can’t I do this from within the client?)
    5) Open email client, wait for email to arrive confirming account creation
    6) Click link in email to activate newly created account
    7) Jump back to web site, get told account is activated
    8) Close browser and email client, return to demo, log in with new account
    9) “Updates available!” Wait for updates to download & install
    10) Demo starts. Before I can create a city I have to create a doofy-looking “avatar”. (Why is this necessary?) Spend minutes how to just blindly accept whatever avatar it gave me.
    11) “Choose a planet” for your city. Why? Is there a difference between one planet (aka server) and another? Why not just dump me on whatever “planet” has the most open slots?
    12) Now choose a spot on your planet for your city. World map is covered in dots. Do the dots indicate plots that are available, or plots that are already taken? Waste time mousing around map until I figure it out. Click an available plot at random.
    13) FINALLY reach the city-building part of the game, only to discover that the graphics on my (not particularly shabby) rig look less like that gorgeous picture at the top of this thread, and more like SimCity 3000 as viewed through severe cataracts.
    14) Swear, give up, go play something else instead.

    It’s like they’re afraid someone might actually play their game, so they took a cue from nuclear waste disposal and buried it under a hundred tons of bad design choices.

  48. Gabanski83 says:

    Silly question this, but: does it only allow you to build grid-based, American style cities, all straight roads and stuff? Or can I build bendy, windy roads and small, mishapen country towns?

    Plus, does it have different types of transportation available? For example airports? I’ve not seen anything but roads and bridges so far. No railroads, no airports, not ports. Do they feature in this game?

  49. Legionary says:

    Not sure what to think. It’s crashed three times in about three quarters of an hour of runtime; servers have been reported as down twice too. Those issues may be related and may be due to server strain at the release of the demo.

    The UI is a little cryptic sadly, and seems to indicate some slightly confused design. If I want to find out which regions are in jobs, for instance, I use the Economy > Jobs overlay. If I want to do the next logical thing and discover more about the problem I have to switch on another overlay from a completely seperate panel. It’s not a deal-breaker but it’s not welcome either.

    The avatar creation is tedious and irritating; I struggled for five minutes creating a character that didn’t look plain ridiclous and having succeeded clicked one of the unlabelled buttons at the top of the screen to work out how to change my digital self’s hair colour and lo! My avatar disappeared and was replaced with a completely randomised one. Whoop de doo.

    They’ve also confused me completely about what the full game will be. Nowhere on the site did it say whether I have to subscribe to play it online, or how much that would be. All I could find were optional payment plans for a premium account that granted free updates (not so free, then!), extra buildings and so on. Developers should know better than creating a demo and site which doesn’t explain exactly what the end product will be and how it will be purchased. Isn’t that the point of a demo?

    Not all negatives, though. The graphics are sweet without being too cartoonish, and there’s a pleasing growth evident at all stages – from the very first building to a new suburb in your city, you always get a sense that things are dynamic and responding to your actions. The city itself is well simulated, and more or less logical in terms of demands and wishes of the citizens.

    The prospect of what it could be a couple of patches down the read excites me greatly, but it’s not quite there yet. There feels like not enough attention was payed into integrating the player into the game experience; after playing the tutorials (be careful to follow their orders exactly otherwise you’ll get stuck behind them not recogising your progress and need to restart the level), I went to create my city and was presented with a world map. Suddenly there was mention of resources, difficulty and so forth, things which hadn’t been brought up yet and so I simply had to guess.

    I’d bet on a hefty patch before or shortly after release, because right now Cities XL is an intriguing and exciting game that spoils it all with rather too many dashes of frustration.