It is a bit confusing playing two different city builders at one time, I have been playing Anno 1404 and the Cities XL Beta over the past few days and there seems to be a common trend running through them. It isn’t easy to make money.
There is of course one big difference between Anno 1404 and Cities XL, the first is a single-player focused game, the latter is a massively multiplayer game, and it is truly massive on a physical scale. There are five planets each with a few thousand players on. At the current stage you are able to build just on city (plans are for players to be able to build five cities in the final release), but this one city is sure to keep you well occupied for the time being.
As with any city builder there is a fine balance between making sure things go smoothly and total disaster. Often disaster will strike when you try to expand too fast, and it nearly did for me. I had started off fairly well, creating my little zones for people to live and then some manufacturing areas. I was careful to keep on top of the employment:unemployment ratio, this is easy enough to do with the various tabs full of statistics available.
I had some agricultural zones, though at first they didn’t seem to do much, perhaps placing them next to my smog inducing factories wasn’t the best of plans. Alas it was the smog that nearly led to my downfall, large grey patches appeared in certain views over my industrial areas, the best solution? A waste management centre. Little did I realise that this new building was costing me an absolute shit-load in maintenance. The worst thing? I had built two of them!
After raising the taxes in a panic amongst other tom-foolery I realised that my best bet was to get rid of the waste management centres, they were promptly demolished which greatly improved my cash flow. The only problem was that I had already taken out a loan; fortunately it was only small so paying it back shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
The game does seem to have a lot going for it; I have barely touched the community aspects of the game, with the worlds as big as they are there should be plenty of opportunities to set up trade routes. The core gameplay seems good so far though patience and a keen eye for the numbers is essential to avoid disaster.