Cities XL 2012

Game review by
Erin Bell, Common Sense Media
Cities XL 2012 Game Poster Image
City-building sim is well organized, with good tutorials.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The game teaches kids about the complex realities of building and managing cities, including dealing with unemployment and establishing economic relationships with other urban centers.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players are largely left on their own, but a few characters exist to introduce scenarios and offer positive advice and tips through short cutscenes.

Ease of Play

The mouse-driven interface is menu-heavy, but logically organized. Kids are introduced to controls and concepts gradually through tutorials.

Violence

Some characters punch each other in cutscenes, but it's done humorously.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cities XL 2012 is the newest version of the City Builder franchise, where players build sprawling 3D cities by balancing the residential, commercial, and industrial interests of its citizens. There is some mild slapstick-style violence in the cutscenes, where characters get into fights-fights with each other, but it's designed to be humorous.

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What's it about?

CITIES XL 2012 is an incredibly detailed simulation that lets players build cities by choosing from almost 1,000 different buildings on more than 60 different maps that represent all types of terrain from wintry forests to sandy beaches. In their role as virtual mayor, the player must address concerns such as making sure there are enough jobs and amenities close to residential areas, and managing energy supply and transportation issues. Players can even set up trade agreements between cities and thereby develop a global economy. That said, Cities XL 2012 is more of an expansion pack to Cities XL 2011 than a full-blown sequel, offering new buildings and maps. Players who already own Cities XL 2011 can purchase Cities XL 2012 at a discounted price.

Is it any good?

There is definitely a learning curve to Cities XL 2012; and while its interface is menu-heavy, it's ultimately well-organized. Players can also opt to participate in detailed tutorials that gradually introduce the game's controls and key concepts. The game delves into all aspects of urban planning in a realistic way; the potential downside being that players might find the game a little dry since the only "disasters" they might encounter are high unemployment, rather than the tornadoes or giant robots of SimCity. Nonetheless, for players who like detailed simulation games, this is a good one.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the toughest decisions you had to make as "mayor?" Was it deciding where buildings should go? Tackling unemployment? Or the fact that you have to juggle everything at the same time?

  • Families can also talk about strategies for building cities over different terrains. How does your approach have to change if you're building a city on the shore of the sea versus at the foot of mountains?

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows
  • Price: $39.99
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: Focus Home Interactive
  • Release date: October 20, 2011
  • Genre: Simulation
  • ESRB rating: E for Mild Cartoon Violence

For kids who love learning while playing

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