A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Managing your city properly is the sole message constantly promoted; how you accomplish this is up to you.
Positive Role Models
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.
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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.