iPhone Game Review: Virtual City Reviewed by JadeDragon
With the success of FarmVille, building SIM games are popping up quickly for iOS. If you want to play a community city building game, try City Story. But if you want to build a working city in the true tradition of SimCity, Virtual City is the best in the business on the iPhone and iPod touch. You not only have to grow your city's population, various thriving industries and entertainment buildings, but the game also presents you with some specific problems including city-wide epidemics, wildfires and over flowing garbage piles. Your job is to make a working city that also looks and smells good. Fun!
Games like City Story puts social networking in the mix where interaction with other players are just as important as your own city building, Virtual City gives you the opportunity to be the lone hero who can transform a sleepy town into a bustling city. You do get some help from the ever so information-rich city planner, as the game takes you to 50 fictional cities in five US states, each has its own charms and issues. The city planner gives you the ?411? of the city in the beginning of the level, detailing the strengths and weaknesses of that city, and what you must do to make it into a first class joint. Another difference between games like City Story and Virtual City is that City story type of games are opened ended and freeform where you can build anything as long as you have enough money anywhere in the city as long as you have enough space. Virtual City however is highly scripted and highly task oriented. There is a free play however after you?ve finished the tasks that required to complete a level.
Virtual City does a great job at mixing things up in terms giving you different tasks so that it doesn?t give you the feeling of ?didn?t I just play that level?? There are quite a few industries in the game, auto industry, clothing, appliances and etc., each has its own supporting factories and the final production factory. You use trucks to transport good and materials from one factory to the next, and as soon as you link up all the factories with supply chains, the city comes to life. Factories churning out products, trucks busy transporting goods, people going into malls to shop. Outside of making products, the game also requires certain eco-friendly points, population growth and citizen?s happiness level. You don?t just grow the population, you will spend quite of bit of time to keep them as happy as they can be, like building theaters, monuments, town squares that offer lightshows and hot air balloons, parks and more.
Like in real life, any happy city has to be a clean city. Virtual City doesn?t overlook the infrastructure of a city like its bus systems, recycling centers and auto repair shops. In addition to trucks for the industries and buses for transporting people, the game also has garbage trucks that collect city?s garbage and send them to the recycling center where they are turned into recycled products that go back to making things like plastic that car factory and appliance factory need. By keeping the city clean, you will keep the people happy.
Some levels have restrictions also including limited budget, limited resources or no demolishing certain buildings, etc. This makes these levels more challenging, but more importantly it sharpens your skills. You really learn how to make the most with the resources you have, and you can use these skills in other levels to save time and get money. Virtual City runs a clock for each level; and gives you bonus if you can finish all the required tasks before the time runs out. But it usually is very hard to achieve the goals within the time limit. After each levels you earn certain points that you can spend on upgrading your factories and unlock new entertainment building like ballpark, theater and more. In levels that require high happiness goals, these entertainment buildings will help you reach them quickly and cheaply. Virtual City also has Facebook integration and lets compared scores and upload your achievements.
The graphics in Virtual City are first rate, even the smallest elements like small trucks, small houses, etc. have their own details and look different when the trucks are empty or full, and when the houses are upgraded. The buildings and environments are expansive, and the products are varied and interesting. Cities in each State reflect their real life characteristics in surroundings: California cities have shorelines, Michigan cities have lakes, Montana cities have mountain, etc. The design of the cities make the game look good, and also provide easy access for the gameplay. There are some fancy shadowing also. Each factory, infrastructure building and entertainment building has its own style and looks sharp. You will love how the airship hanger looks or the railway station after you constructed them.
Like a busy city, Virtual City offers upbeat music and non-stop sound bites that fit the bustling city scenes. The sound of truck starting or breaking down, products done, buses loading people? Everything has its own sound and yet they mixed together like symphony.
It?s not hard to find a basic city sims game, but finding an A-level game that offers expansive levels with lots to do is very hard on the iPhone. Virtual City is definitely worth the money if you have the ambition to build your own cities and solve problems. The game has many intricate aspects that keep the gameplay fresh. The graphics are eye-catching at first, then you notice the details, shadows and variety. It?s a lot of work, but if you are up for it, Virutal City offers lots of heavy duty tasks and many hours of gameplay.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Impressive game design in both scale and details. Sound: - 5 - Works well with the gameplay. Controls: - 5 - Very easy to use, and the game gives you a chance to learn all the basics. Gameplay: - 5 - Heavily task oriented gameplay that offers many hours of fun and lots of variety.
Playing Hints and Tips:
- Make sure you read the requirements for completing the level before you start playing a new city. Some have limits that will change the way you plan and build the cities.
- Never underestimate the power of infrastructure. These buildings will save you LOTS of time down the road. Also build bus stops, garbage collectors and tech centers to cover all your populated areas and road areas. Build a hospital and a fire station as soon as you have the money after the supply chains are established.