If you've played any of the SimCity games, then surely you're familiar with the concept of a city building game. You control your own town, and are tasked with developing it and helping it prosper, by expanding the various zones and building better amenities. The game is suitable for those who enjoy a more relaxed style of playing, and should be perfect for you if you're coming from the fanbase of another similar game.
Building your city's zones is quite similar to the SimCity games, and you actually have the same three types of zones available – residential, commercial and industrial. In order for your city to be successful, you'll have to cater to the masses' demands, and build the appropriate types of zones that your city is lacking in – for example, if you want to open more job spots, you should concentrate on commercial and industrial zones, while you'll also have to support the incoming residents appropriately by building residential zones.
There's a good degree of realism to how the zones interact with each other, for example building a residential one right next to an industrial sector will cause the quality of life in that zone to decrease drastically, and with it the prices of apartments/land. You also need to select appropriate “classes” for the zones you're building – that is, what grade of citizens may work/live there, from low to high.
Graphics and System Requirements
Cities XL is done in a 3D engine, which is only shared by the last game in the SimCity line. The graphics look moderately good, and if you zoom in close enough you'll see a satisfying level of detail on the buildings and streets. There are realistic transitions in the weather, and the game feels really varied even if you play it for a long time.
The system requirements aren't affected that largely by the game's good looks, and you should be able to run it on even a moderately good computer – you're provided with several options and settings that you can tweak to accommodate it to a low-end machine more accordingly. But generally, if you can run SimCity 4 without hitches, you shouldn't experience any slowdowns in Cities XL either.
The game used to feature online play with a monthly subscription at one point, though that was dropped due to lack of popularity/revenue. The multiplayer mode allowed you to visit the cities of other players and interact with them to some degree, plus it gave access to a new feature – the bus. After the service was shut down, the bus has been made available for the regular single player mode, so you can make use of it if you're playing now.
It differs from SimCity 4 in many ways, but it also sticks to the basic formula that makes this type of games so successful – and while it could use the odd touch of polish here and there, it's still a satisfying experience that should keep you entertained for a while.