Cities XL – Sim City MMO
One PC game that’s caught my attention lately is Cities XL, essentially a MMO version of Sim City although I don’t think they are related in any legal way (even though the resemblance is incredible). I haven’t played this sort of game in years but I like the online aspect to it and I’m going to download the demo to check it out. The full game comes out in a few days.
As you can imagine, Cities XL sees the player in the role of the city mayor (aka supreme overlord) and they have build up their landscape, attract residents, manage resources and deal with all of those fun issues like trade agreements, global warning and education policies. Awesome. Not sure if there will be a way to invoke the wrath of God like in the original Sim City games (cause let’s face it, half the fun was building up a huge empire and then watching it burn to the ground) but I’m curious to find out. Personally I want to try and see if I can create a city with a vast divide of wealth between native, rich bankers and lawyers and poor, uneducated immigrants and then see if I can re-create the Credit Crunch. Call it a social experiment if you will.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Cities XL though is it’s online capacity. You can play it completely offline just like a normal game or you can take part in what’s called the Planet Offer. This allows you to build your cities in a completely online, persistent planet occupied by thousands of other players. You can collaborate, trade and interact with them, attract or send tourists, or create an avatar and wander around them as a human being etc. Sounds pretty fun and, to me, it’s a big draw to the game even though the aspect does come with a monthly subscription fee. Money aside, this persistence gives a lot more meaning to the game and, in many ways, validates the time you spend playing it. Other people can experience and interact with the city you build and that’s way, way cool.
It’s also interesting to see the developers come up with a new take on the MMO model. The fact that you can play Cities XL as a standalone, single player game without being forced into the subscription model is fantastic. It offers a lot more variety and flexibility. I wonder how long it will be before we start to see this sort of thing effect more traditional MMORPGs. Maybe one day we’ll be able to play World of Warcraft offline for free? I wouldn’t rule it out.