SimCity BuildIt is the mobile version of the much-maligned, relaunched version of SimCity from 2013. It’s probably a lot simpler than the PC version (which I avoided due to the bad reviews) – and put simply, it works great as a casual, mobile game.
BuildIt combines the classic SimCity with the same timer-led resource management gameplay found in other mobile games like The Simpsons: Tapped Out. Here though, it fits in nicely rather than be a source of frustration. Classic SimCity was about balancing the mix of residential zones with commercial and industrial; in BuildIt, you don’t need to worry about this as much, just on making sure you have the resources needed to grow your city. Resources take time to craft, but in the original games this is the same time you would have spent waiting for zones to become occupied/grow and generate tax revenue to buy other zones.
What’s interesting is that you can’t “start over” at any point – you get one city, and it’s your job to manage it until the End Times. There are no real resource constraints, and no penalties for demolishing everything if you feel like a change, beyond the loss of time. In-game cash is the only non-time-limited resource, but is only used for purchasing certain speciality buildings and upgrades (and is constantly topped-up by growing your population). Everything else happens through crafting and/or combining materials. If you want, you can spend a second type of cash to speed things along (which of course can be topped up via IAP or earning achievements).
Combining this resource system with the ability to easily move buildings around if you want works very well for the game — players are free to explore various strategies to find the optimal way to layout and run their cities, limited only by how much time they want to put into it. This reduces a lot of the stress found in the original SimCity games, where you were constantly fighting against resources and the needs of the population, trying to stop everything from falling apart as poor choices in the early game came back to bite you, with no “do-over” other than starting a new city. With BuildIt, these elements do exist, but to a much lesser degree. Citizens want certain utilities in your city, and there is a juggle of the “area of effect” of certain buildings1 – but in the course of several
hours , I’ve never reached a point where I wanted to drop a nuke on my city.
I mentioned in a previous post that BuildIt is probably my favourite game on iOS at the moment. Even though the timers do get in the way a little, they’re less restrictive than in Tapped Out or similar, and the endless nature of the game gives it a very high replayability factor. You can while away an hour at a time in BuildIt; you can’t do that in Tapped Out.
- Both good — happiness from parks, protection by emergency services, and bad — pollution from factories, power plants, or sewage works, for example. ↩