Welcome to my Cities XL 2012 review. Cities XL 2012 is a very famous city building game developed originally by Monte Cristo but released and developed later by Focus Home Interactive. It has had two prequels: Cities XL and Cities XL 2011. There is a lot to say about it but I will focus my review on the comparisons between it and its prequels and what makes it so....bad. Without any hesitation keep reading.
On the Cities XL series you are given the ability to build a city on a handful of maps. Cities XL 2012 is nothing like Sim City and that might be what actually made it such a disaster. Choose your map and you are presented with a series of locked goals. Build a road connection>Build a City Hall>Build an Utilities Facility>Achieve 500 Population>Achieve 1000 population and so on. The goals are the same for each map. Fortunately or unfortunately, you can remove these locked goals and play the game on a sandbox mode - not that the default mode isn't already sandbox. There ISN'T any campaign of any sort at the Cities XL series. In fact, there isn't anything at the Cities XL series besides the visual quality.
None of the Cities XL games «have brain». You place buildings mindlessly where you want and people come in and complain if they aren't happy. If they find a better spot in your town, they move there but they don't really leave your city. There are no goals of any kind so keeping your people satisfied isn't rewarding and most certainly not pleasant because it requires a lot of work and budget. I played Cities XL 2012 for a few hours on one of the new maps and noticed I was doing the same thing over and over again. Changing maps didn't help either.
1 - Placed residencies - unemployment stroke;
2 - Placed more work buildings - no unemployment or too many jobs.
3 - Placed more residencies - back to Nº 1.
The gameplay is really broken and boring. Not having a campaign it feels like something you would do after playing the game for a while. I believe Cities XL is only for the kind of gamers who enjoy building stuff without caring about anything else, for those who enjoy the design and visual quality and hey there's nothing wrong with those types of gamers but even for these, Cities XL manages to fail by becoming unplayable after a while. Cities XL 2011 featured memory leaks and didn't feature multi-core support. Guess what? Cities XL 2012 is a copy and paste of it.
When building roads, the game lags like hell because only one of the CPU cores is doing the hard stuff and after a while, the RAM is completely sucked by the memory leak bug and you need to restart it. Since that isn't enough, the bug of roads and buildings being "eaten" by the ground is still present (check my first screen-shot to see it)
Back to the gameplay - keeping citizens happy (even though you don't need to) is very unrealistic. They have health, educational and fun needs. You need to put clinics and hospitals, schools and universities and theme parks and other casual places and all these are unrealistic expensive and have a very limited range, meaning you need to place lots of them. It feels like the state (you, your budget) pays for all of the costs. The option to introduce private hospitals and universities would have been nice and would have helped keep the budget green because stuff like oil exploration brings loss instead of income, unless you export it - but to do so you need to have extra oil to spare. Public transportation is another thing that bugs me. It is also fully sported by the state (by the player, by the budget). It's like people don't pay tickets at Cities XL 2012 and no, you can't establish prices for anything (which also proves my theory that all public services have no cost to the population). In the end, keeping the budget on green side is rather frustrating and unrealistic which would be fine if it meant anything to the game but it doesn't. There are no goals and you are even given the option to cheat by adding cash as much as you want.
Another aspect that is very unrealistic is the traffic. My god, I have never seen such exaggeration about something. You can zoom in on the city and see the cars on the roads. A couple of cars stopped on a road for more than 4 seconds and BOOM - the game bombards you with messages saying there is heavy traffic on the City. It's so annoying. I have tried creating alternative roads. I made one road from point A to B and then another for people who want to get back to A (therefore from B to A) but at some point there has to be an intersection between these roads and traffic will be congested there. Argh.
I think I have said enough to show just how bad Cities XL 2012 can be but what makes me hate it the most is that Cities XL 2011 featured all the problems I have stated here so if I were to review Cities XL 2011 (which I have, just didn't go so deep) I would say exactly the same. Focus Home Interactive had around one year to fix these bugs and problems but they decided it would be best to just add some new maps and call it an expansion when it's really just a MAP DLC. Note that there are two versions of Cities XL 2012 in the market: one that works as an expansion pack to Cities XL 2011 (and therefore cheaper) and one that works as a standalone game, for those who never made the mistake of spending over 39 euros on a crappy game. I made my review based on the expansion perspective and therefore my final score is lower (2). Why? Not a single bug was fixed; Nothing new except new maps (1); Not even new musics while playing...argh!
I consider Cities XL 2012, the expansion of Cities XL 2011, to be TERRIBLE (3).
(1) Go HERE to see a video I made of some of the new maps.
(2) I would have given a 4.5 if this review were on the standalone version perspective.
(3) Do I need to say a TERRIBLE game isn't worth 15 euros?