iOS and Android Game Review: My Country: build your dream city HD Reviewed by Tong Zhang
Russian-based Game Insight is one of the fastest growing companies in mobile gaming space with over a dozen studios developing games on this social gaming platform including Paradise Island and Crime Story. My Country is among the new and very fast growing games for both iOS and Android, and despite the name it's not a country builder but a city builder. The game's Android version is half a step ahead of the iOS version currently in terms adding new content and more social components, but both versions have largely the same core buildings, tasks and more.
Though the developer promises more social components are coming, My Country is still very much a single player game. You get to build a city with a good number of buildings in infrastructure, industries, service industry, government, business and residential. There are some elements that are very familiar to city Sim like SimCity, where you will need to have enough electricity, ecology and road systems to support a large city, but My Country is not a SimCity clone. It not only has modern buildings like skyscrapers with helipads, World Trade Centers, and impressive high end residential buildings, but also a full set of city supporting system that includes police, fire department, complicated public transit system, hospitals and many more. The game has levels based on experience points, and eras based on requirements you fulfill; though neither is hard to achieve but they give you an idea how the game is played and how you make progress. Since the game doesnít come with a tutorial, the advancing levels and eras functions as your tour guide.
My Country certainly offers enough number of buildings to keep you busy. Since advancing in levels and eras are quite easy, you unlock most buildings fairly quickly. This adds more fun to the gameplay because a newcomer can build high paying business building and make money quicker without putting in days of work. Building a structure isnít the whole story however, you need to upgrade them to realize their full potential. In fact buildings often take several steps to build and even more steps to upgrade. Buildings that pay more money require more investment and longer time to build, but you can rush the process by throwing in more money. Money isnít hard to make in this game, like gaining levels are easy, but that doesnít mean you will build Rome in one day.
As with most city building games, My Country has its own tempo. Unless you throw real world cash at it, you will need to follow the tempo in this grand dance. Since money comes in easy, My Country uses commodities to regulate your speed of progress. For many buildings you not only need money to build but most importantly you need people. It makes sense since in real world you need realtors or rental agents to open buildings, janitors and building managers to manage the buildings, doctors and nurses to man the hospitals, firefighters to work in fire stations, and so on, you will need these people to open any building you have in the game. The trick in My Country when you hire these people is to prepare the required set of tools they need. Some of these tools are the most coveted in the game. You could have $10 million sitting there but without a plunger to hire the building manager you canít open that nice World Trade Center you are building.
Building, upgrading, taking contracts and collecting profit will get you not only money, experience points but also different items like plungers, trash cans, keys, etc. And each building gives you different things. By learning and navigating the trail of commodities of each building produces, My Country provides us with more strategy in the gameplay than other city building games. You must have a strategy on which building to build and when to build them in order to make things work, otherwise you will end up with a bunch of unfinished buildings using your precious land. And since we are talking about land, we will touch on the sensitive topic of IAP. While making virtual money is quite easy in My Country, the game preserves not only certain buildings for IAP only but also opens only half of the virtual map to freemium players and the other half for IAP. To be fair, the half freemium land is large enough to enjoy the game for a while; but as with any good building games, you always run out of space to place the stuff you are building. It takes about $20 to open an IAP area and thereíre total of 9 areas you can open with IAP. So it does cost you a lot of real money to play the game on the entire map, but frugal gamers can just play the free areas with a shrewd strategy that constantly upgrades and updates.
The Android version of My Country has some extra content at the moment, and that includes visiting an AI neighbor and for Halloween, Draculaís city for some spooky content. Game Insight told us that the Halloween content is coming to iOS version soon. The game also has trouble running on the new iPhone 4S at the moment, but Game Insight promises to fix it very soon.
Surprisingly itís not very easy to make a busy city look realistic and beautiful, as many game designers will tell you, but My Country achieves a high mark on the graphics. The city looks very sharp even when itís crowded with high rises and skyscrapers. It gives you enough trees, parks, monuments and rivers to make your city look even prettier. Oddly the game doesnít have any bridge for the rivers or lakes you are building. Roads automatically link if you place buildings near by a road system. In addition, you can change colors of many buildings, which is a nice touch in the game design. The building collection is also large especial residential buildings that have different heights, styles and functions.
My Country has an adequate audio package that includes easy going music tracks that play in the background while you are building and managing your city, and sound bites for different actions on different buildings. Itís pleasant to leave the sound on while playing the game, but there isnít anything out of ordinary.
My Country is a fun and addictive city building game that has lots of strategy in the gameplay. Though Game Insight promises to build this game into a social game, My Country is still largely a solidary city sims game or on the very beginning of the social game trajectory. Even with only half of the city space open without IAP, the game already has enough substance to keep you addicted for a while. We enjoy the graphics, the goals and the large selection of buildings in the game; and donít mind the hard work it takes to build a live and vibrant cityÖif only we can get enough trash cans to hire the building managers!
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4.5 Ė Nice graphics even with ton of buildings on the map. Sharp and colorful. Needs bridges. Sound: - 4 Ė Pleasing sound tracks and appropriate sound bites. Controls: - 5 Ė Super easy to use and very smooth touch control. Gameplay: - 4 Ė Addictive and strategic. Could use more freemium space.
Playing Hints and Tips:
-Itís very easy to tap use IAP currency in the game on buildings with contracts. So be careful where you tap. -A building only needs a piece of road to work, but the road doesnít have to lead anywhere. -Plan your building process. Donít build a ton of buildings that you donít have workers for.