Cities XL 2012 Is Surprisingly Pretty

Like Bath on a bad day.

Four new screenshots of Cities XL 2012 have been released, and if I can be brutally honest with you – I can, can’t I? – that didn’t excite me very much. The Cities XL games are clearly very good at what they do, but I feel like I was exhausted of city management long ago. And then I looked at the pictures. Blimey, this isn’t Sim City 2000 any more, is it? They’re worth a look.

The game is due to appear in precisely one month, and will look a lot like this:

And move around like this:


  1. Belsameth says:

    Meh. Never liked CitiesXL much. Gimme a remake of SimCity with graphics like that please!

    • staberas says:

      I actually liked it .
      but i feel they just releasing the same thing with better graphics … oh wait!

    • Premium User Badge

      Gassalasca says:


      Graphics are pretty, but I’m not interestied in that primarily. I want a good simulator.
      So yeah, Sim City 4 with new graphics, please.

    • crazydane says:

      I agree with you sir. I tried Cities XL 2011 and never really got on with it. It just doesn’t feel the same as Simcity 4 or 3000 (let’s not talk about Societies – biggest disappointment I’ve ever had). Still waiting on Simcity 5 EA/Maxis get to it!

    • shoptroll says:

      For some reason this looks bland compared to SimCity. I appreciate that they’re keeping the genre somewhat alive, but the Maxis games always strove for some level of unrealism with their art assets. I’ve read a bit about CitiesXL and while it sounds like the game for the hardcore city simulator, I gravitate more toward the Maxis/Bullfrog style of management sims which remember that they are still a game so it’s not spot on realistic.

      I would love to see a SimCity 5, but I agree with Will Wright’s assessment that the series needs to step back from the edge and simplify things a bit. SimCity 4 is pretty solid, but there’s some needless complications that I think pushed it out of the realm of being really accessible like Classic and 2000.

      My ideal SimCity would probably be closer to 2000/3000 (drop region play, make service ranges snap to the grid instead of a circle, drop desirability for building types since that’s overwhelming to new people) with the terrain system of 4 and a graphical style like an HD version of 4. Also, caricature advisers like in 3000, as using 3D models from The Sims isn’t really timeless. Lastly, make it mod friendly so the game can be community support for a long time like 4.

      Oh and don’t drop support for the game after a year when it didn’t sell as well as The Sims.

      EDIT: Can’t believe I forgot this. Bring back random disasters and scenarios, and make the disasters non-interactive so they’re not just glorified bulldozers >:(

  2. Moth Bones says:

    Where is the mild cartoon violence I was promised in that trailer? Liars!

    It looks gorgeous, but I’ve not heard too much praise for CitiesXL. Then again, given that my ideal game is a mash-up of the best bits from Civ, Paradox grand strategy and city builders with the added ingredient of detailed enivironmental modelling, I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied.

  3. Rii says:

    I don’t think “not enough graphix” was one of the complaints folks had about previous Cities XL.

    • 2late2die says:

      If I remember the reviews I think one of the main issues with the game was that the cities didn’t feel much alive – there was minimal number of people walking around, if any at all. It looks like in this one they at least fixed that.

    • Grygus says:

      When people actually complain about the graphics in Human Revolution and Dragon Age II, it’s not surprising that developers think looks are all we care about.

    • Astroman says:

      Cities XL is so much prettier then Sim City 4 and for some reason it actually runs better. But the game play is so ridged.

      I remember the game forced me to build ferris wheels to make the middle class happy and those cost more then anything to maintain so my game started to revolve around ferris wheels. It’s like the game spirals out of control with the introduction ferris wheels.

  4. lcpong1 says:

    Performance has been a serious issue for the past Cities XL game………They better make it run faster before making it prettier.

    • macks says:

      Like making use of more than one CPU core? Running for more than 45 minutes without memory leaks causing it to run at 1FPS? That’d be a nice new feature if you’re going to charge $40 every year to an update to a game that has been broken and unpatched since it came out.

  5. lucasdigital says:

    CitiesXL was good, but not great – I admittedly bought the game from the eye-popping screenshots, but soon grew weary of its limited scope. I’d be interested in knowing how they’ve improved the simulation modelling, hopefully this is more than just a spit-and-polish job and the developers actually fixes many of the game’s failings.

  6. Jimbo says:

    Didn’t the game look exactly the same the last two times they released it?

  7. Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

    That looks absolutely gorgeous. I’ve no experience whatsoever with the CitiesXL games (didn’t even know they existed until I stumbled across this site a month or so ago) and no existing prejudices – I’ll wait until the reviews of this one, but I’m not sure it’ll take an awful lot to convince me…

  8. cliffski says:

    wasn’t this the game that had some dodgy MMO ongoing cost system? or was that another city game?

    • Archonsod says:

      Nah, 2010 had an online subscription thingy going on (which was optional), but they closed it down before 2011.

  9. Monkey says:

    Um what actually do you DO in this game? I’ve not played any of the previous titles mainly becuase i have no idea what the game actually is

    • Kollega says:

      You plan and build cities, apparently – roads, zoning, utilities, social services, the whole nine yards. SimCity 4 is better than the 2010 version, though, and maybe better than this one too.

      Speaking of that: anyone played the 2011 version? Is it actually a good city-builder or not? I’ve only played the demo for 2010 one, but that was enough for me to deduce that it’s dosen’t measure up to SC4. Growth of buildings just felt too “artificial” for me.

    • weego says:

      so is this more Sim City 2000 than 4? Because I have to say I still prefer 2k out of the two.

    • Kollega says:

      I would say that it dosen’t measure up to SimCity in general. Haven’t played 2000, but i’m pretty sure the zone growth mechanics were also more engaging there than “zoning” in Cities XL.

  10. thesisko says:

    Pretty? But I thought that the rising costs of game development meant that games that aren’t multiplatform FPS titles must be 2D browser games….

    • KillahMate says:

      There was a misunderstanding – these are just concept renderings, the actual Cities XL 2012 is a multiplayer FPS.

      With bullet time.

    • Kollega says:

      I hope you realize that an actual multiplayer FPS where each player can independently use bullet-time verges on being physically impossible, and so would be a great, perhaps even physics-defying, technological achievement.

    • KillahMate says:

      I was actually keenly aware of that, because it’s the biggest problem in my design for a multiplayer Inception game. But I posted it anyway. I plead the Rule of Funny.

    • neems says:

      I think multiplayer with Bullet Time has been done actually. I think The Specialists had it, and I’m sure I read something recently about some upcoming shooter with it, and the design obstacles they faced in actually making it work.

    • Nick says:

      The original FEAR MP did it as well.

  11. KillahMate says:

    But oh my, this does look very pretty.

  12. thegooseking says:

    That’s the Cities XL 2011 trailer with the number 2012 dropped in the bottom-right corner.

    I’m not even joking. Look at Cities XL 2011 on Steam and watch the trailer.

    • Brumisator says:

      Hahahah! Oh god the failure!

    • anothermike says:

      Oh man, nice work on the internet Matlocking

    • mejoff says:

      Well I never!

    • jonfitt says:

      Is that YouTube posting of the 2012 trailer genuine though? Because if so, that is epic fail.

    • chabuhi says:

      I want to say that owners of CitiesXL 2010 get a discount on 2012 and 2011 owners *might* be getting a free upgrade (or deeper discount), and that they may simply have replaced the vid on the 2011 page with the new 2012 vid. Don’t quote me on that though.

      EDIT: Oh wait … never mind. Nothing to see here – move along.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    Oh dear.

    EDIT: Gah, reply fail. That’s a response to thegooseking above.

  14. AtkinsSJ says:

    I don’t actually find it that pretty. It’s all too grey. Maybe that’s just because it has fancy shadows, but in that second screenshot especially, half the screen is greyish-brown and hard to make-out what things are.

    Maybe I should have another Simcity 4 session.

  15. TheFatDM says:

    I so wanted Cities to be the new SimCity. I will likely buy and play Cities XL 2012, but when will there be a new SimCity?! Please answer, it’s ok to lie.

    • hosndosn says:

      >Please answer, it’s ok to lie.

      Will Wright stated in an interview, recently, that he is growing tired of milking The Sims franchise for DLC money and that Spore “failed at a deeper gameplay level”. He announced a new SimCity (currently just code named “SimCity 5”) for 2012. It is not related to SimCity Societies and promises to be a “proper” SimCity that actually challenges fans of the series and adds greater freedom in how to build your city in real-time, including a virtually infinite city radius.

  16. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    “Like Bath on a bad day”
    Possibly, but without the tourists.
    And with more interesting things going on.

    • Stranglove says:

      I really rather like Bath, it’s nice to live next to such a great city, but there is rarely much happening.

    • Dozer says:

      “Like Bath after the Avon floods massively and after Tesco get planning permission to build a string of high-rise multistorey supermarkets along the most congested roads”

      There’s a half-built Tesco on the north side of Windsor Bridge in Bath. They got halfway through building it when the council realised they were also building houses on the site without any planning permission and stopped the project. It’s been like that for well over a year now.

      Meanwhile on the other side of the bridge a large supermarket (90% sure it is also Tesco) is lobbying to build another supermarket on the site of the old printworks. Happily the reasonable objection ‘Windsor Bridge is already gridlocked two hours each evening with no businesses on the south side of it, let’s not add a large supermarket there k’ has prevailed so far.

  17. Carra says:

    I had the same feeling when playing Tropico 4, damn that game looks good. Looking good is important for these games as you spend a lot of time waiting for stuff to finish. That’s the perfect time to zoom in and enjoy the beauty.

  18. hosndosn says:

    I thought I’m done with city sim games as well when I tried one of the CitiesXL games a while ago. Then I got SimCity 4 on one of those insane Steam sales and ended up playing it at Civ-grade addiction levels for many, many hours. CitiesXL, at least previous versions, look pretty but they got nothing of the soul of the original SimCity games.

  19. SketchyGalore says:

    Unfortunately, graphics have very little to do with what makes a good sim game, and no one seems to have realized that in the past decade or so. I kinda wish companies like Twisted Mill would stop killing the genre with sub-par games so we could get more interest in the development of city builders and general sim games (that aren’t just The Sims) again.