As the virtual mayor of a city, you undertake enormous building projects that lead to the ultimate metropolis. Cities XL 2011 is a new form of SimCity - but with lots, lots more people. You don't need to be an economics major to figure out the inner-workings of city building simulations, but you do need a little bit of patience.
Cities XL 2011 adds to the foundation set by Cities XL, this time offering more buildings, maps, and improvements to the interface. Oddly enough, the original game was widely advertised as an MMO City Builder, but its 2011 variant had no multiplayer to be found. After choosing where you'd like to expand your empire -- err, city, you set out to connect your city square (the town hall, in effect) to civilization: build roads, set up infrastructure, and prepare to put that civil engineering degree to use.
The UI for picking your starting location is pretty nifty, too. You rotate and pan around the world and pick a region, whereupon a short description of the zone will pop-up, showing the resources and other things that a successful municipality needs. From here on out things are fairly generic; you build houses for your peons, find a way to attract them, and then establish workplaces for those foolish enough to live under your evil reign. In order to counter-balance your increasing population, you must build up either your industry or your office buildings; the game makes it clear from the get-go that the elitist, higher-educated workers may only have employ within corporate-type locales, whilst unskilled workers are confined to factories (sadly, we do not have anything to check if these facts are accurate, seeing as jobs are an urban myth at this point). Remember: No city is complete without fast food joints and shops, so build some retail areas to keep your underlings happy. As your city grows, so does the variety of cool buildings you can build, inevitably leading to the construction of Eiffel Tower equivalents, sky scrapers, and mansions for your investment bankers.
The diversity in map types is enticing, and supplies each city you build with a unique environment. A lack of some form of advanced mini-map can make it difficult to navigate larger cities, though. The camera options are also sort of cumbersome - but the amount of zoom distance gives a good view of your inhabitants. If you really want to have some fun, build a lot of factories next to the unskilled workers’ housing and just watch them go nuts, the factories eventually start polluting the hell out of the environment. Sim brutality at its finest.
The greatest part of this game is watching your sweet little town flourish into a huge megalopolis. The UI is easy to get the hang of (except the little camera UI), and it shows you the type of buildings that need to be built in order to keep a proper balance in your city. I'd recommend taking a hard look at the tutorial prior to playing, there are too many different variables to grasp off-the-bat.
Cities XL 2011 is a very fun game to play… for a certain amount of time. Although there is a variety in the maps, the building process is very much the same. In short: build houses, give jobs to the people that you built the houses for, and eventually you’ll build some cool buildings. It gets to a point though where your city is successful and there isn’t really anything to keep you wanting to play that city. Unlike SimCity's disaster system, nothing here goes wrong, and it turns out that utopia are very boring.