Cities XL is the first of a series of Sim City-like games. It was released only a couple years ago, but it already has a sequel, and another one is on the way.
The ability to play SimCity online is a dream for a lot of people, and Cities XL gives you a very similar experience to SimCity, except it is completely online. Even the single-player mode is online, because the company requires you to log into their site to access the game. That is DRM for you.
If you can ignore the blatantly annoying DRM, Cities XL is worth looking at. It offers a very realistic city simulation with many great tools to design the city and manage it. Roads are very straight-forward, requiring them to connect to buildings to allow people access to the buildings. Building zones can be set using one of three tools, the basic freeform painting tool and two polygonal selection tools.
The features Cities XL lacks which I liked about Sim City were the water placement tool, the terraform tools, and the plumbing pipes and related buildings. I liked how I had to manage every little aspect of the city. In Cities XL, everything is streamlined, and most of the management stuff is automated.
Overall, Cities XL is great as a simplistic demo of what Sim City might look like in 3D space, but it is so rough around the edges that I prefer to just play Sim City.
I have not played the online multiplayer mode yet.
Interested in a second opinion?
Gamespot rated Cities XL as 6/10.
Another thing to look for when browsing PC games is the system requirements. There are really 4 things you need to worry about: RAM or memory, processor, video card, and finally, the hard drive space. Memory can be upgraded fairly easily, and it shouldn't cost much. We recommend having at least 1GB memory, 2GB if possible. Your processor needs to be fairly modern, and a Pentium 4 probably won't cut it. We recommend a 1.8Ghz Core 2 Duo or better. Your video card should support DirectX 9 (or higher) and have a minimum of 256mb memory attached to it. We recommend 512mb or greater. Hard drive space is subjective, but we recommend having a fairly large amount of space. You could settle for as little as 40gb and be able to play most games, but we recommend having 80gb or more space to make sure you have room for multiple games at once. Most PC games don't run straight from their disc. They usually require an install process, and most modern games require around 8gb of free space to install.
PCs are the ultimate game console, because they can be upgraded, and they will never go out of style. PCs can also play most old game systems through emulators, so if you lose your Playstation, you can just play your games on your PC. You can also play classic arcade titles and have infinite coins!
A lot of people complain about having to use a mouse and keyboard to play PC games. This isn't a requirement, fortunately, and we have what we call gamepads or joypads. Yes, we can use game controllers! We can even use Xbox controllers! That said, it's not as plug-and-play as a game console, and some games simply will not work with your joypad. Fortunately, Steam tells you if games support controllers, and if your favorite game doesn't support them, you can map the controllers to keyboard and mouse controls.
Just be careful when buying PC games. Read reviews carefully. If a game gets a 1/5, don't buy it. If your PC is a cheapie, don't expect modern 3d games to work. Read the system requirements very carefully. If you don't know anything about your system, you can find help in the PC Stuff forum.