Developer: Glu
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Build-A-Lot 2 is the game that SimCity needs to be on the iPhone. Instead of trying to go about building entire cities, complete with roads and infrastructure, on a tiny little screen, Build-A-Lot 2 (BAL2) pitting you as an up-in-coming “entrepreneur” that various mayors hire to make their cities “town of the year”.

Instead of mass city building with an automated economy and happenings, BAL2 puts you in charge of everything. Because each map only consists of 10-15 plots, it’s up to you to not only build houses and parks, but also perform special paint jobs to raise the curb appeal, put elevators in fancy modern homes to collect more rent, and fix needed repairs. All the actions are conveniently located in the house menu, but there is definitely enough to keep you busy.

The game consists of numerous levels, each with their own goals. The goals have you doing anything from building X number of modern homes with X curb appeal to building a recycling plant and hiring X number of workers. The levels are grouped together by city, meaning that every 4 levels or so the focus will change from going green to something like clearing out houses.

While the game is quite fun, especially for genre fans, the graphics could use some work. Nothing is broken or anything, but the buttons and tabs are quite small, and aren’t quite as intuitive as they could be. The real problem lies in resource allocation. To build something, like a house, you have to have a certain amount of resources and a number of free workers, and you have to own the blueprint of the design that you want to build. Sometimes, while you are looking to build something, you just want to peruse what things cost. To do this, you have to click and hold on the item, taking up quite a bit of precious screen real estate in the process. If you let go, the item is instantly bought, causing more than a few moments of cursing the game.

By the third level or so everything comes together though and the game becomes second nature, making many of the early on design worries not so bad. Part of me wants a slicker interface, but the given one is very functional.

In BAL2, Glu has created a great blueprint for how a casual sim game can work, and work well. It’s not the prettiest game in the world, but it does get the job done, and most importantly, the game is fun. If you are a fan of the genre, you certainly won’t regret your purchase.

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