The SimCity series has started and almost fully explored the genre of city-building games, and disappeared from the field of vision (finding a place, for example, on portable consoles). There was a clear gap for good and extensive production of this type, and the chance to spot the studio, Monte Cristo. The Cities XL adventure ended with a spectacular flap and the developer splintered. The new brand has been acquired by Focus Home, which has decided to expand it. In this way, Cities XL 2011 was published, which is the theory of more elaborate and extended edition. On paper, it sounds great, because frankly - the original had a lot of shortcomings. Unfortunately, most of them return like the boomerang.
Cities XL 2011 is still a developed city simulator, where the player's task is to plan the layout of residential areas and business areas and ensure their proper development. Introduction to the complex rules of the game is a multi-part tutorial based on a comic miserable story about an incompetent mayor and his hard-working assistant. The way to give information, that is the board with the text, nasty portraits of both men and poorly written dialogues, is pity and responsible for the first bad impression. Despite the severity of the narrative part of the training missions - they are useful and worth a go. Mainly because of the fact that to play in XL Cities, we have to know many nooks of an uncomfortable interface, which - instead of giving clear information - effectively hide it.
In this game, we have dedicated to a whole planet, on which we can create dozens of cities in the areas designated by the developers and configurations. Surprisingly for some players, it may be that the developers have not been tempted to develop any campaign or even several scenarios. In other words, Cities XL 2011 is a "sandbox" full of fun and entertainment you need in the game to find on your own. The metropolises are created in several types of environments, which differ not only in appearance but also in their access to raw materials. Depending on this, the level of difficulty of the game increases or decreases. If we get bored of one city we can go back to the global level and lay the foundation for another. The situation in the other institutions is then frozen - they are not developing in our absence.
As for the sandbox fit, we create the city from scratch and we have influenced many elements. With several tools, we designate zones for residential, commercial, entertainment, educational, sanitary, service, economic, manufacturing, medical or purely residential buildings. The multiplicity of elements could make you dizzy, but fortunately, the game has the option of profiling access to buildings according to the population of the town (the original fans can turn it off in the menu). In this way production shows what we should build in the first place, making it easier to do the difficult task. The aesthetic and planning issues have been left in our hands - it is possible to put into practice any ideas for the prettiest or the ugliest city in human history.
The driving motive is two factors: the desire to further expand and unlock new elements (as far as we are playing with the option of limiting available buildings) and the need to meet the needs of residents residing. Individual groups - from the working class to the elite - have their demands: professional, educational, financial, etc. There are also issues such as the state of the environment or the level of a traffic jam. One can not forget the demands of the economic and business sphere, which demands fast-moving transport channels, good hotel infrastructure and other such elements. When we spend a few minutes in the city, the game starts to pull in. There is always something to do, something needs to be improved and somewhere to intervene, and without the flow of cash, we will go with the bags.
Despite the multitude of options, the Cities XL system feels less dynamic and less sensible. Certain solutions try to match real phenomena, and others are completely different from reality. The game bothered a bit that everything was sterile and dead. Although we have indicators of smog or unemployment, it is difficult to bring about the laziness and the extreme poverty that is present in every large metropolis in vain. But what is the accusation? In the end, it's just a game! Well, in this respect, too, something is missing. One of SimCity's memorable features were real or fictional natural disasters that occurred spontaneously or by the will of a sadistic player. In Focus Home we expand the city, then develop it further, and finally develop it to the max. Simply put: boredom goes away.
Another problem Cities XL 2011 is that the game was cut out of what was on the paper sounded the greatest advantage of the predecessor, that is network play mode. It is nice that we have the whole planet at our disposal, but this approach will soon come to fruition because when we master the rules, the next cities do not bring any challenges (there are some achievements but unfortunately they are hidden from the player). We are already planning to develop in the first well-developed city. After a few hours, we will be grinding to the perfection of ideas or building new, more sophisticated metropolises. Not everyone will be happy with this form of play because the sandbox is a good thing as long as it has plenty of attractions and tastes. Another thing is that many of the features of Cities XL 2011 are simply unlocked paid elements of the previous game, loaded with a subscription, which was, in fact, a nail in the coffin.
One of the "new" options (in Cities XL we traded with other players) was to be a bust for boredom and emptiness during a solitaire game. Theoretically, the idea could have made making the planet a lot of Metropolia would make sense. Unfortunately, this add-on is a buggy, dropped to score another point in the "new features" tab. We exchange goods with established cities or corporations operating outside the market, which is not in the game. For this reason, the system is reduced to simple sharing of resources not available on the map. It is difficult to call this trade, since business partners have prices "as stiff as Asian palms" and only confirm the assumption that we are a dead globe. In this aspect is not very interesting - and how do other news in the 2011 edition fall?
Changes made by Focus Home developers also appear to be mostly cosmetic fixes and retouches. Metro is useful but can be replaced. Extra dozens of buildings and a few (more) styles (we can build eg medieval churches and cathedrals!) are also interesting, although they do not significantly affect the gameplay. So it seems that the game suffers from syndrome "aliens". You can not add too much in such a short period of time, so the news that Cities XL 2011 offers are either unsuccessful or more fit to the extension / DLC formula than the full game (especially since the first part has seen many amateur mods). With all this, the shortcomings of "one" were repeated.
In the game, we continue to struggle with an ill-designed interface that might work out a few years ago, but today it looks archaic and hinders the fun. Panels for information are plenty - and that's the problem because it takes a lot of time to get through the whole thing. The main attraction of production, that is, the development of cities is quickly becoming boring, because it lacks the element of unpredictability, and a lot of things annoy. Introducing the "element of surprise" is not easy without compromises, but on the other hand, Cities XL does not offer such a great economic system that there is a risk that it will suffer. Technically, the production is not that good either - the graphics are fine, but the optimization is literally fatal (four cores at high settings have fallen out!). Analyzing the music path of the game would be a digging lying - most of the tracks sound just like the fake tracks from Hard Truck.
So despite the few changes and not very good performance, buying Cities XL 2011 we will not feel cheated? Criticism has fallen into this review a lot and well deserved, but for someone who just wants to start a game and build a city, it can be quite nice. Remember that the market is not currently very competitive (in the category of modern cities). This does not change the fact that the game is medium and cosmetic patches have changed little in this regard. One can hope that the idea will expand its wings thanks to the activity of the moderates community and the fans because in the raw state it is so.