previewed on PC
Move aside Sims we're heading for MMO!
Monte Cristo hopes to take city building and turn it into something we have never seen before. Yes, we've had many city building games, and yes, we've had plenty of MMOs, but what makes Cities XL worth keeping an eye on? The fact that both of these genres are seamlessly integrated into each other with a single player experience combined with a bustling online community. Another feature that Monte Cristo wants to make known is that your cities are infinite. You aren't stuck with a large square you have to stay inside of and you aren't limited to the amount of objects in one area. Monte Cristo is going to let you create cities on the entire Earth... how's that for a sandbox? If you don't think that's big enough, they are giving you a second world by letting you share and trade commodities online via a website. Stopped yawning yet? Wait 'til you read some more!
I can use Earth, but how much of it?
Every part of the Earth has different resources which are an essential part of your city's development, given that they can not only be used as material components to develop your own homestead, selling and trading online. Monte Cristo wants to give you a promotion from just a dinky little city mayor to a veritable god. You can build a city in Africa for wild herbs and spices, drill oil off of the coast lines etc. Pick what you want your resources to be, move there, and build, watch and profit.
Naturally, as in traditional city builders, you will have to attract citizens to your new-flanged creation and eventually build a magnificent metropolis. Building your city is supposed to be easy and simple with a drag & drop feature along with an easy to use menu system. Out of the box, you will get 500 different buildings and 25 different maps. Monte Cristo promises to release Cities XL alongside some downloadable content, and whether or not these will be free is yet to be known. In addition, the developers promise to deliver frequent new content to give players a constantly fresh experience.
You said MMO, but you also said a website...
That's right. It's two-in-one. The MMO features allow you to roam around other people's cities on foot via a custom avatar and shop for items, resources and commodities to trade and sell which will allow you to keep your empire steady and strong. Movement in these cities is reminiscent of Second Life and one must wonder how much the players will actually engage in this activity, unless it is actually required of you to walk and find different trading centres in order to trade with other cities.
In addition to these MMO features in-game, you will also have access to a website where you can get real-time updates on what's going on in your city, who wants to trade what, and do business over the internet via this website. Now it wouldn't be a "business" without some time type of blogging feature, with comments allowed, or photo sharing, and these are naturally also part of the package.
The developers do not plan on having rare limited resources or random events which might change supplies for the online community. Whether this may hurt the game or not, no one can really tell. The whole dynamic with an online community combined with a traditionally single-player experience is something that needs to be experienced before were can surely say how the supply/demand of the market will work in such a context.
So far, Monte Cristo has been tight-lipped about the details of the multiplayer features along with the information on subscription fees. In EU, however, the fee seems to be in the order of 8 euros per month. From what we know thus far, the multiplayer features - blogging, trading and walking around in people's cities - do not seem really seem to be worth a big monthly payment, unless the future updates from the developer are very spectacular indeed.
And that's a wrap
With so much potential for online gaming some of you may wonder if single-players have any business in this game. Monte Cristo has promised a robust single player experience that will allow you to do everything you can possibly dream of in a city builder. You can expect Cities XL to be groundbreaking and very fun indeed.