When the city building genre was first really taking off, back in 1989 with SimCity, the genre was incredibly strong. Many iterations of SimCity have come and gone, with each of them getting progressively more interesting as we go. Now, in 2018, we’ve been able to take the city building genre to our Android and iOS phones. The real question is how well does such a massive genre translate to such a small screen? As ever, I took to the Google Play store to download the title and give it a go – and honestly, I am definitely not disappointed with the results. Read on if you’re a fan of SimCity, looking for a small title to play as you go.
|Price||£Free (Full version £3.49)
|Ads||Some (Only if you choose to view them)
If you’ve never played a city building title before, you play as a city planner, or mayor, or god – You decide. In this title, they deem you the mayor, so onwards you go to mayorial duties. When you start, you have nothing more than a Town Hall, which sort of acts as your centre of operations. It’s here that you’ll meet your advisor who will assist you throughout the game, explaining what you need to do and giving you quests – More on that in a little bit.
To progress through the game, you need to level up your city – And to do so, you will need to place zones, landmarks and more. Zones are similar to the concept that SimCity fans will be accostumed to – Residential Zones are required to get people to your city, Commercial Zones are used to keep your residents happy in your city and Industrial Zones are used to earn income (and act as jobs for your people). You’ll also need to place landmarks and outdoors attractions, as well as buildings such as theatres and the likes to make your citizens happy. All in all, you’re balancing their needs with your need to expand.
You’ll first be asked to build a road, followed by a Residential Zone. Once you’ve done this, you’ll have to build Commercial and Industrial Zones. It’ll also teach you about placing a Power Plant to let your citizens have electricity, as well as water towers, so they can have water/sewage. Once these are placed, the game gets a bit more loose with you, allowing you to go ahead and do what you want more or less. This is true to all city building games – Freedom is one of the best elements to the genre, which Pocket City seems to have captured perfectly. They’ve really captured that feeling of a SimCity title, where you get taught the very basics, then it lets you go.
One important thing to note is that the game doesn’t follow SimCity to a tee – Indeed, there are a few elements which are completely forgotten and some elements that are new. The level of a city is very much a casual idea, but one that works very well in the game. It allows you to get a feel for how ready you are for the next building, or the next upgrade. It’s fair to say that you don’t need the level system, but it certainly helps keep the game moving in a logical pace. Furthermore, the unlocking of buildings can also be found by obtaining more areas of the map – As some of these areas have treasure chests, containing new buildings like landmarks.
Another new feature to Pocket City is the addition of tasks, or quests or whatever you want to call them. An advisor or a person of interest will speak to you regarding what they want you to do, or in the case of the street thugs, don’t want you to do. It’s a well thought out and logical way to keep the game moving, especially as it gives the newer players to the genre a much needed goal to focus on working towards. As well as this, you can cause events to happen, as well as disasters. You can choose when they happen – Or in the case of disasters, you can allow them to happen as and when you want to.
I find the graphics to be an absolute marvel compared to what I’m used to on Android; often games are pixelated to the point of true obscurity. However, that’s not the case with Pocket City, as the game looks crisp. When you zoom in, you can get in pretty close to anything you want to zoom in on, which does begin to distort the image, but nothing crazy. The fact that every building gets detailed is honestly pretty special. The little people walking by are just what they need to be, the wildlife actually looks like wildlife… It’s honestly a visual treat for a mobile game.
The weakest point of the game is its audio – There’s some, but it’s nothing that’ll make you go singing its praises for. You hear the bustling life of the city; the sounds of people talking, birds chirping, cars driving by and indeed, police and fire sirens when required. But there’s not a lot of music in the game, which I think is actually a bonus personally. I think the little vocal clips of the various advisors, influencers – and local thugs – are the best bits of audio in the game by far. They’re short, to the point, pretty simple and all in all, they sound great.
No, this game will not blow your mind for how difficult it is. Indeed, you can even go so far as to turn off the random disasters. I’ve only reviewed the Free version as it’s all I’ve got at the moment, but I’ll certainly be chucking the £3.49 over to the developers for the full version. The game is really nicely polished, with a lot of excellent points. It’s not the hardest title in the world, but as a little city builder, this may very well be the best on Android (and perhaps iOS too). Afterall, even the game is completely free, it really doesn’t shove ads into your face as heavily as many other games do – And that’s a welcome change of pace.
All in all, if you’re a fan of the city building genre and want something clean and easy to play, this is the one for you. I’ve sunk in a number of hours in a short space of time, already getting to about level 26. Who knows, perhaps when this title goes live I’ll have gotten even further. As ever though, let us know what you thought of today’s title in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.