Mobile Game: SimCity BuildIt

I’ve been meaning to share some information about Other Games with you, just in case you’ve been looking around for something to add to your game collection.  I decided to start things off with another EA game, but this one is for mobile devices (Android).  Here are my first impressions of the game.

Click on the image above to check out the app in the Google Play Store.

It would be wrong for me to not tell you upfront that I don’t recommend this game for any serious gaming!  It’s a mobile game that is like any typical Facebook or browser-based game that’s supported by in-app purchases.  It also has timers upon timers that prevent you from playing the game seriously.  In my opinion, this game is only good for a distraction while you’re waiting for an appointment, transportation, or something else that forces you to sit around doing nothing.  This game is slightly better than doing nothing…

As soon as you accept the terms and agree to them, your game will start off with a sim talking in Simlish to you, just to make sure you feel like you’re playing a Sims game.  This feels really intrusive and silly after a while, I must say.  The speech bubbles serve as a tutorial, which is helpful at times, but the Simlish speech is just a silly gimmick.  That’s only my opinion, of course, but I always felt that SimCity is better when you pull back from the sims a little bit.

Moving along, in the beginning of the game, the player is hand-held through everything, but after you get into the game a little bit, you can change things around and redesign your town as easily as you move around rooms in Sims 4.  I guess that might be the reason behind making this game look similar.

Drawing roads with this app isn’t as easy as this little slide might make it seem!  I’m sure drawing roads on a small screen would be especially cumbersome–I only felt comfortable drawing roads with my phone’s stylus.  If you plan to play on a tablet, this probably wont be an issue for you, but you should keep it in mind if you plan to try this for killing time when you’re stuck waiting for something.

Your first road has to be built where the game tells you to draw it, which is annoying.  I just started playing the game, and I already felt like I wouldn’t have any creative freedom while playing it–and that’s the only reason to play a game like this!  I pushed on with the tutorial for my loyal readers though; I really feel I should tell you about this experience after all you’ve done for me, so you’ll know what to expect from this mobile game.

The next step was to place a “residential zone,” which would be more accurately referred to as a lot because it’s one building.  Your lot will start out as a single family residence that you upgrade over time.  In the screenshot above, you’ll notice the thought-bubble above the lot has a hard hat and a check mark icon; this signifies that the requirements for upgrading have been met.  You tap on the thought-bubble to see what materials are needed and complete the upgrade, if you’re ready.

You earn bonus population, coins and level points by upgrading the residential buildings.  As you upgrade the lot several times, the requirements get more challenging.  Also, you end up having to build factories and building supplies commercial outlets to produce the materials you’ll need for the lot upgrades, and that’s where the timer games begin.

The first utility you’ll be asked to add for your citizens in your little mobile town is electricity.  To reduce the pollution levels, I went with wind power to start off with.  If your town grows large, you’ll need to consider other options for powering your city, and you may find that another option serves your needs better.

This panel shows the Services and Specializations menu, which is where you will access all the services and special attractions your town will offer to its citizens.  In the early stages, all you’ll need is power, water, a town hall and a fire department–but always wait until the citizens ask for these things before you spend money on them.  Adding them to your town before they’re needed will waste resources you need for making your population happy.

Here is my little town after I reached level 2.  I’ve got my Town Hall over on the left side of the block.  I took this screenshot just before rearranging the layout of things–the Building Supplies store in the bottom left was just out-of-place.

You’ll see there’s some factories along the southern edge of my town also.  I moved those over after I sorted out the placement of the Building Supplies store.  I can see why they allow players to move things around and reorganize, because it’s too easy to place a building in the wrong spot with the touch controls and it would be annoying to lose resources and money over an accidental tap.  However, it does feel strange for a SimCity game, where part of the challenge is to create a nice looking city without wasting the entire city budget on fixing misaligned roads!

It’s probably best if the player just forgets anything they know about SimCity games, to be honest.  So this is where I’ll remind you about the timers on factories and building supplies producers… this is what makes most app or browser-based games unpleasant, and this game is no exception!  You have to produce some building materials and some need to be turned into building supplies while others are used in their raw form, or are sold for the cash you’ll need for other things.  Definitely DO NOT spend any money on this game!  I’m sure it’s affordable, but there are better things you could do with your disposable income, believe me!

After you play for a little while, you’ll earn the first achievement.  This rewards you with the in-game “cash” points that are needed for certain things, like upgrading the storage capacity for your building resources and supplies.  I never did manage to earn all the resources for that upgrade, and instead I just worked on strategically producing the goods I needed for my upgrades and building supplies production, and made some extra wood and steel to sell.  At least it does appear that you can play the game with strategy and just ignore the in-app purchases.

I needed to get some coin saved up for fire services once I completed the tutorial and was playing my own way.  Fire services might be the first challenge any player will face because the small fire department doesn’t provide much coverage for a growing town, but the large one is very expensive.  You’ll need to design your town to maximize the fire coverage without wasting money.

I took this screenshot to show you how the fire risk is shown in the service map.  When you have enough money to purchase a fire department, you just drag the one you want onto the map, and you’ll see a green coverage area displayed around the fire department, which will assist you with placement.  Move the fire department to the a location that covers as much of the red areas as possible.

When I had earned a little more coin, I ended up with a large fire department, centrally located, and two small ones on the outer edges of the town.  Here’s a picture of my town just before I decided to stop playing the timer game and leave this SimCity BuildIt thing until my next doctor’s appointment.

In this image, you’ll see I earned the Mayor’s Mansion already (in the bottom right corner, with a view of the little lake), and the City Hall is just a block away.  I have some tall apartment buildings and a few new homes that are just started.  Of course, those pesky sims are whining about the fire risk and I just decided that it’s a hassle that I’ll deal with when I’ve really got nothing better to do.

I know that’s not the best recommendation, but this game doesn’t deserve glowing praise or anything.  It is what it is, and I have found far more fun mobile games!  This one is good enough in small doses, mind you, and my favourite mobile games are so addictive that I end up playing for hours and hours!  That makes the great mobile games less suitable for killing time waiting for something, and I do recommend this game for that purpose.  Just don’t spend money on it 😉

 

 

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5 Responses to Mobile Game: SimCity BuildIt

  1. Good to know– helpful to know that there are lots of timers — sounds like Sims Freeplay in that way. You can use strategy, but it gets more and more frustrating/unproductive eventually, without spending money. But the graphics look cool and it might be, as you say, a good way to pass some time while away from home waiting for an appointment.

    • Indeed! I played Freeplay and it was hard to get used to at first too–the concept of playing Sims in real-time just wasn’t natural for me. Then I started to enjoy it and was actually doing a little story for it, but then it turned into a grind. I mean, I found how to do everything without spending money, and I was having fun… until they kept bringing out new things that you had to do time-sensitive quests for. It began to feel like a JOB more than a game! That’s when I uninstalled it from my phone completely and tried out another timer game (Heroes of Dragon Age) that went the same way.

      There is one mobile game I absolutely love and it has no timers, but it’s not free to play. I guess “Free to Play” is synonymous with “micro-transactions” and “timers.” 😛

  2. Ariadne2001 says:

    It’s nice that you write a post about this! Did you notice that the characters have the same haircuts and clothes as in the Sims 4?

    • Yeah, I noticed that–with the exception of the fireman of course! Perhaps they’ll come to Sims 4 one day, but they obviously wanted to make this SimCity for mobile look as much like Sims 4 as possible.

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