Close to twenty years since the original was released, SimCity remains a peculiar outlier in the videogame landscape. And why not? A game nominally designed around the job of city planner or urban designer and one that tiptoes delicately around the notions of objective, goal or win condition, it’s a wonder that the game ever sat on the shelves next to titles such as Doom and Civilization.
But rather than quibble about whether SimCity is, in fact a game, or should, on it’s merits, be considered one, instead we should accept that it has flourished in its evolutionary niche as something fun to do on your computer.
Unfortunately, the success of The Sims and glowing promise of Spore has taken more than some of the developer’s attention away from its oldest child. So, it doesn’t really surprise that other developers will rise to the challenge of updating the city-building game for the 21st Century. That’s what fuels the thrill in the following announcement:
Monte Cristo is pleased to announce CITIES XLâ„¢ for Windows today. In this next-generation take on the city building genre, realism will be pushed to the limit with cities that are bigger, more realistic and more sophisticated than ever before. CITIES XLâ„¢ will expand upon all the features that make city builders fun and interesting, while also letting players take their game online, as they interact with others in a massive online environment.
The game is not due until next year. But screenshots and the sheer audacity in scale make this one to watch. Will Cites XL revolutionize the SimCity genre? Is planning education about to go through another wave of enthusiasm for simulation in the classroom beyond the creaky GIS and Google Earth used today?
Will it even be any fun to manage the urban densification of an entire planet with friends?
One way or the other, playing with cities is going to get more interesting soon.