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.