Cities XL (formerly Cities Unlimited) is a city-building computer game developed by Monte Cristo, which has prior development experience in City Life. It was originally scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2009, but was eventually released on October 8, 2009. The game allowed players to play online and interact with others on massive persistent planets, and to work together by trading resources or building blueprints in order to satisfy the needs of city inhabitants. However, on March 8, 2010 the online service was closed and the game became single-player only. A new version of the game titled Cities XL 2011 is being developed by Focus Home Interactive and is scheduled for release in October 2010.
The game is set to feature 25 maps in single-player mode and 50 maps with the online subscription, with varying landscapes, hundreds of buildings, and the ability to create an in-game avatar. Two different versions of the game were released, a standard edition and a limited edition. The limited edition will contain extra content including additional landmarks, additional maps, and a poster.
Massively multiplayer online
Cities XL allowed players an option to play on a persistent online virtual community known as a planet which requires a monthly subscription fee. As a member of a planet, players were able to build their cities in a virtual world populated by other subscribers, trade resources such as electricity with other players, work together to create structures such as the Eiffel Tower, and visit other cities as an avatar and host events.
On January 27, 2010 Monte Cristo announced due to a low subscription rate they would be closing the multiplayer online service, and they did so on March 8, 2010. A patch was released on the same day allowing players to use buses in single-player mode, as they had previously only been available in multiplayer mode.
The game offers the designation of three types of building lots: residential, commercial and industrial, each of which can have a different density. Residential lots are furthermore distinguished by four social classes: unskilled workers, skilled workers, executives, and elites. Before designating building lots, players are required to select which class of residents may live there. The social class chosen for a lot will not be modified by the simulation.
To create building lots, players can zone an area of the map in which, upon confirmation, individual building lots will be created by the game. Players can also plop building lots individually. A Mass Placement Tool allowing players to select tags that define what categories of buildings they want to see created when outlining an area of lots has been announced in previews.
Cities XL allows players to create a road network of a variety of road types, with it possible to draw roads at many different angles and curvatures. Bridges and tunnels are also part of the simulator. Other transport options announced to be included in the game in the future are trains, ferries and subways. An add-on introducing buses to the game was released in December 2009.
Gameplay Extension Modules
A feature known as Gameplay Extension Modules (GEMs), also referred to as Game Enhancement Modules, are features, such as a ski resort or a beach, that can be implemented into a city and managed in extra detail by the player. For example, in a ski resort GEM, it will be possible to add ski lifts, restaurants, shelters, and ski-trails. When a player is managing a GEM the main city simulation is stopped, but successful management of GEMs can help enhance a city.
The terrain is composed of height maps, textures and a normal map. Instead of creating new tools, Monte Cristo relies on existing third-party tools like EarthSculptor, World Machine and GeoControl to generate unique realistic terrain before importing it into their terrain-editing software. In addition, middleware like SpeedTree has also been used for in-game afforestation. In an interview on September 11, 2007 Philippe Da Silva announced that Cities XL would include a large variety of maps and landscapes, which would allow players a greater depth with the types of cities they wanted to create. A pre-released screen shot of an Aspen map confirmed that Cities XL would include snowy landscapes.
Monte Cristo has made a 3D engine that allows lower-range PCs to run the game. The player may not have all the graphic options fully turned on but still get better quality visuals than City Life.
In June 2007, a screenshot of a new city building game from Monte Cristo was posted in Philippe Da Silva's personal blog. However, it was later revealed in a community website interview that it would not be called City Life 2, and was initially named Cities Unlimited to avoid confusion. On April 15, 2008 it was announced that Cities Unlimited official game title would be Cities XL. The game was released on October 8, 2009 in Oceania and in Europe, and on October 9, 2009 in North America. A demo was released on September 7, 2009, but has expired and is no longer playable.
During the development of Cities XL, Monte Cristo maintained a developer blog and internet forums on their main website. Prior to the game's release, both the blog and user forum were closed and removed from public view. The company has stated that the community is not to worry, as they have "saved all of the good posts", and would continue to maintain a presence on websites such as Simtropolis.
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The single-player mode has been criticized as bland, and reviewers have complained that "even the tutorial missions hit you with sales pitches" for the multiplayer subscription. IGN gave the game an 8.1 saying that "Cities XL has indeed pushed the genre in the right direction, streamlining some of the more annoying parts of Maxis's juggernaut [SimCity] while adding features that were long overdue." GameSpot gave it a 6.0 stating that "the solo game is generic, and the online features aren't ready for a ground-breaking ceremony."
The Australian video game talk show Good Game's two reviewers gave the game a 6/10 and 7/10.
Cities XL 2011
On June 25, 2010 it was announced that Focus Home Interactive had acquired the Cities XL franchise, and that a new version of Cities XL titled Cities XL 2011 will be released in October 2010. New features include more buildings and maps, improved public transport, an enhanced tax system, and better trading options.
- SimCity (series)
- City Life (video game)
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