Cities XXL

Game review by
Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media
Cities XXL Game Poster Image
Basic city builder won't keep attention of simulation pros.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Managing your city properly is the sole message constantly promoted; how you accomplish this is up to you.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Pop-up NPCs (nonplayable characters) encourage the player, but for the most part players can do as they please. 

Ease of Play

Mild learning curve. The game packs some challenges that may give younger players moments of concern. Fortunately, money isn't an issue; any problem that does occur is easily corrected by spending civic funds.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cities XXL is a downloadable city simulation that's a single-player title, with a mod community that interacts through the Steam website. This is a sandbox game, meaning players can do virtually anything they wish in designing and building their towns. It's not as challenging as a SimCity experience but might be a good introduction to the genre. There's a mild learning curve, and younger players may be intimidated by the challenges posed by managing your city. Still, Cities XXL also indicates that using civic funds in proper ways can solve these problems as well.

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What's it about?

CITIES XXL features a big world, with 67 starting environments that run the gamut from tropical to chillier climes. In this game, players are challenged to design and build a city from the ground up, using tools provided in the user interface. This means drawing on the world map with the mouse to drop in roads, neighborhoods, utilities, shopping, entertainment, and industrial complexes. The citizens of the city provide feedback as to whether the city is being well run, which -- in turn -- provides the player the necessary data to adjust the city to meet the needs of its people. Money flows very freely in this game, and with a continual influx of cash it's easy to keep the town going strong. 

Is it any good?

Cities XXL suffers from one very big problem: It's virtually the same game previously released, only with bigger maps to build on. Although there's diversity in the environments, it's a bit on the bland side and overly easy to control. Cities can become beasts with a development mind of their own if players don't pay attention, and the game seems to drive players to create super-size cities instead of more manageable smaller ones. The tutorial works in giving the basic overview of play mechanics, but generally Cities XXL is rather intuitive and not very challenging. The graphics are decent unless you zoom in too tight, and then they lose some of the detail that could have been in place with a new graphics engine.

The game has added five new maps, pedestrians on the city streets (which are cloned everywhere), and a few buildings, but this isn't enough to attract gamers, especially if they own previous incarnations of the title. But honestly, if this is an introduction to the city-building genre, then Cities XXL is a nice, almost too-easy foray into the category. Money solves all the problems, and there seems to be lots of it rolling in. That's a problem, because with a few disasters, zoning restrictions, or catastrophes that spin the city into free fall, this could have been a decent game. There are no rocks or sharp objects in this sandbox, though, leaving a game that might suit younger players but will hardly hold the attention of a veteran city-building gamer for long. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the nuances of what makes a city run well and about city planning with an eye on development. What makes it work, and what could be done better?

  • Parents can talk to their children about how to find a healthy balance between playing video games, watching television or movies, or using the Internet and being active with physical exercise and play. 

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows
  • Price: $39.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Focus Home Interactive
  • Release date: February 5, 2015
  • Genre: Simulation
  • ESRB rating: NR
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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