This is one of the best city simulations out there, especially when looking strictly at games with good graphics. That said, it is not without its flaws.
- Lots and lots of replayability. You could get lost in this game on just a single city for weeks.
- Your cities interact with each other to an extent. You can trade things like water, fuel, industry, and office services amongst the cities you create. This allows you to specialize your cities, such as creating an industry giant that feeds industry goods to your cities where you want to avoid polution, such as a resort town.
- You can point and click your way through everything. Given how many options you have for roads, buildings, etc, the menu is easy to use and allows for quick access to everything.
- The game feels like a semi-sandbox during normal play, as there isn't really many restrictions in place (and you can switch the building restrictions off in the settings).
- As you build up your city, you get to a point where you realize it isn't just about building anymore. Management becomes a much bigger deal. One of the biggest management challenges is transportation, and that adds something to the game that I find quite enjoyable, making it a bit deeper than it might look on the surface.
- Some of the mechanics for laying out streets (especially bridges) and buildings can make things a bit frustrating.
- The whole Cities XL series are just reboots. They look the same, play the same, and feel the same. This makes for a bit of a hidden "good" I guess in that you shouldn't feel the need to own them all (I do and don't have any reason to play any of the previous ones).
- They removed the online function that the original had, rather than making it work. The idea of being able to have cities existing in a "truly global" world definitely had an appeal.
- The developer is lazy. The failure to make online work, some small problems and unfinished features, and the mechanics that are still issues still unaddressed after so much time just speaks to the lack of care the developer has for its work and reputation. They did "fix" things to a point where they weren't really game-breaking, but it still sits in my mind that they seem to want to skate by at this point (especially given how much effort they put into trying to create a great alternative to another "CitySim" game).
If you really like city management/builder games, this gives a good balance between the two and should be able to keep your entertained for quite a while. If you can catch it on a sale, then great! If not, you just need to decide what your dollar is worth. As far as putting a dollar value on fun, you have to do that for yourself, but even with the flaws, the value was definitely there for me given how much entertainment I have gotten from it. Decidedly beats spending the money on gas, a ticket, and some overpriced popcorn and soda at a movie theater for me.