Gave Cities XL 2012 a try, since it's only $10 this weekend.
It's interesting; definitely a solid city-building engine, and there are a lot of good ideas here, but it really suffers from a few key points ...
1.) The interface is laughable. The fonts at use (in the Steam version, anyway) are obviously not what the designers intended ... Cut-offs and strange placements of text are all over the place. It's mostly legible, but only mostly ... Which is not a good thing.
2.) No "story" or "campaign" mode ... Everything is Free-Build/Sandbox. Which is good for some people, especially those who are fond of the older SimCity games. But I'm only interested if there's some extra "guiding" thing that gives me a sense of progression. Things happening that I don't expect, or completing mission requirements ... I crave that sort of thing in a city-sim, and this game doesn't have it.
3.) EXTREME micro-management, without advisors. Even though there's a simple tutorial, the learning curve is steep. It takes a while to figure out why things aren't going well for some businesses or houses, or why people are frustrated or not moving to your city. The potential is huge once you figure it out, but sometimes you THINK you know what you're doing and then it ends up bankrupting you (why are a few, simple bus lines more expensive than what ALL of my industry, manufacturing, offices, and farms earn, combined??)
4.) No undo button. Oops, I accidentally zoned an expensive hospital that drained 1/2 my early bank account. Let me demolish it. --What? It costs money to demolish it, before it's even fully built, AND I don't get my money back?? Holy shit D:
5.) Takes a -LONG- time to get your treasury going. You start with $200,000-500,000 on each map. Sounds massive. But everything is expensive, so before you know it, you're down to $90,000. Then people start flipping out that they want Executive housing. So you add it, but the Executives want Leisure buildings. Boom, down to $30,000.
But no worries -- You'll make your money back with all these happy folks, right?
Oh, wait, you're only making $7k every ~3minutes. Which is barely enough to build a medium-length avenue. Which means you'll have to sit there and wait for over an hour before you can make any further large expansions D:
I mean it's a cute game, probably worth $10, but it's a real shame they didn't put more effort into balance and UI after making such a nice engine.