First Of The SimCityNots: CitiesXXL Out Today

I hope it becomes a long-running series just so its name can keep growing in the same way.

People said that EA’s most recent SimCity had cities that were too small. People said that Focus Home Interactive’s Cities XL Platinum was quite good but quickly ground to a halt once your city reached a certain size, and long before you’d filled the limits of the landscape available to you. What will people say about Cities XXL, the latest iteration of the series which is out today? I will let you know once my copy unlocks, but the launch trailer below looks nice for now.

Rather than a full sequel, XXL seems like another measured step on from Platinum, which was itself a single step forward from Cities XL 2012 and Cities XL 2011 and the original Cities XL before that. The upside to the yearly development cycle is that the game now far outstrips most of its genremates when it comes to variety in building models and architectural styles.

Here’s the tooting trailer, where you can see for yourself:

The downside is that the series has never found another big, new idea to make it feel fresh. Maybe you’ve forgotten, but the original Cities XL was named as much because it offered not only single-player, offline city-building, but an MMO-like online multiplayer mode with a subscription fee, the ability to play on a planet with other real humans, and a player-driven economy. Unfortunately that service shut down after just a few months and original developers Monte Cristo declared bankruptcy shortly thereafter – a portent, perhaps, that our real-world player-driven economy would not support these features – and the Focus Home Interactive sequels that followed focused more on solo play.

Other ambitions for the series disappeared at the same time, perhaps understandably. For example, there was once the intention of rolling Monte Cristo’s many other management games into Cities XL, so that a ski resort or airport placed within your city could be managed in great detail by way of an optionally purchased expansion. I’ve always been a fan of silly, ambitious Dwarf Fortress-style ubergames, even if focus is usually the way towards making something good. This new game features Steam Workshop support, so maybe we’ll still see the likes of those ambitions realised yet.

The second SimCityNot is Cities: Skylines, from the developers of travel management series Cities in Motion. It similarly brags about the comparable size of its cities.

25 Comments

  1. Neutrino says:

    “I will let you know once my copy unlocks”

    So is this an early access review then? Grrrr.

    • kevmscotland says:

      Didn’t read like a review at all, neither is it marked as one. Its merely an announcement that the game will be released today with some basic background info of the series and what its competitors are upto this year also.

    • c-Row says:

      More like an early non-access review.

  2. kevmscotland says:

    I’ll hold off until I get confirmation it isn’t still crippled by poor performance issues mid to late game as all its predecessors have been.

    • Premium User Badge

      distantlurker says:

      that’s what we’re *all* waiting for :)

      Popcorn?

      • aepervius says:

        How does it compare to the new simcity ?

        • JimboDeany says:

          Popcorn is definitely better

          • Ejia says:

            I would argue that popcorn may have slightly less replay value, depending on whether you only have it salted or other-flavored.

      • kevmscotland says:

        Honestly, I think they are at the point where they just hope that computer upgrades from their customers will eventually outstrip the crippling performance issues of the game engine itself.

        I mean Focus Home Interactive are a publisher, not a full out developer so expecting another Cities XL version 2015.

    • AngoraFish says:

      I’ll hold off until I get confirmation it isn’t the exact same game as Cities Unlimited with the title slightly modified, like all its predecessors have been.

      This ‘series’ has to be literally the biggest scam in PC gaming. A game originally developed by Monte Cristo and on-sold after bankruptcy to a company whose only interest has been to efficiently squeeze every last drop of cash they can out of someone else’s work; repeatedly rebranding the game with the only thing differentiating releases being a few more dredged up and slightly polished art assets salvaged from unreleased DLC that were in development when the original game went under.

      How Focus Home Interactive manages to continue to generate enthusiastic, uncritical, press for constantly rereleasing the EXACT SAME BLOODY GAME remains one of life’s great mysteries.

      I guess that the whole scam is living proof of how desperately the gaming world craves a quality successor to Sim City.

      • Squirly says:

        I was going to say that SimCity is the reason this game generates enthusiastic press but then you already said that and now I feel superfluous.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        If I was actually good at coding and/or had enough capital to hire some I would have become quite wealthy filling all these silly niches the PC gaming industry refuses to inhabit.

        SimCity since about 2005 or 2006. X-COM from 1999 to 2011, et cetera. I mean how on earth were there not 3 games trying to strip SimCity of its niche after Societies?

        Cities XL is a tragedy because with some actual development it could be a great game. But someone has to put some actual money into it.

  3. JarinArenos says:

    The thing about that multi-level management ambition is… it’s hardly impossible to do. Sim City 2000 integrated just fine with Streets of Sim City and Sim Copter…

    • keithzg says:

      I remember Streets Of Sim City being a bit shit, but SimCity 2000 and SimCopter were both fantastic games that further elevated eachother through their integration. It was just fantastic to fly around and try and put out fires and apprehend criminals in the city one had spent time building up. And then you let that fire get out of control and now the next time you loaded up the city in SimCity there was this wide swath of destruction you had to rebuilt . . . pretty fantastic.

      Definitely one of those cases where it evoked a reaction of “wow, this is the future of gaming, I can’t wait to see what the next generation of this idea is like”. And since then we’ve gotten . . . nothing of the sort.

  4. Oridan says:

    Damn, I thought this was the Paradox one and got really excited for around two seconds. Judging by the steam reviews this is just the same game as the other Cities XL. Yeah, skipping.

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      Solrax says:

      Yeah, I was about to buy it when I read this and am so glad Graham mentioned Skylines at the end, because *that’s* the one I was excited by.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Neurotic says:

    Half way through my download now. Frustratingly, my connection’s running slowly tonight. Can’t wait, it’s going to be great!

  6. April March says:

    This is good news, because the next slightly modified release will HAVE to be called Cities XXXL, and that’s just hilarious.

  7. alms says:

    If Steam reviews are to be trusted (currently at 212 and Very Negative) most are stating is basically the same game as XL Platinum.

  8. racccoon says:

    Lots of sex in this one..either that or they’re trying to imply we are all fat bastards..

  9. Ejia says:

    It seems like hope for a better city builder lies in Cities: Skylines.

    Otherwise the best one is still fully modded SC4 and on one hand kudos to Maxis for building at least the framework, but on the other how the hell is there not a better one yet.

  10. CidL says:

    As others have said, the Steam reviews are awful. So, no.

  11. Ducce says:

    It’s the same game all over again, don’t buy this.

  12. slerbal says:

    This is why I never buy games from Focus. I once had a publishing meeting with them back int the day and we ended up walking out as they were a bunch of clowns/hucksters who had no knowledge about games including the ones they were publishing… It seems they pretty much added an X to the title of the previous installment and released it as a new game.

    Classy.

  13. airmikee says:

    I don’t know what others are doing wrong, but XXL runs great for me. My main city is up to 2mil population, which is twice as big as my largest city in SimCity4, and XXL gives me less lag than SC4. I’ve seen videos of 6mil population cities, and a friend reports their main city is up above 12.5mil pop, figures that are extremely difficult or impossible to achieve in any other city builder. Multicore support definitely works, as the game usually takes up one core fully and 50-60% of the other five of my six physical cores, and the Steam Workshop support makes modding even easier.

    Funny that people are trashing FHI so much and looking forward to Paradox’s game. Paradox was the publisher of Monte Cristo’s ‘City Life 2008’, which was panned by critics as being nothing more than a minor upgrade to the City Life series and returning players would find the game uninteresting and boring. City Life was also so buggy the original publisher left the deal allowing Paradox to get involved, and people demanded a new game, so Monte Cristo found a new publisher for their new game series, Cities XL.

    I’m looking forward to Cities:Skylines, but I’m not picking it up any time soon after release. With all the DLC planned for that game, I’ll wait for a GOTY or Ultimate edition.