Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad
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At first glance, the game seems like a clone of the PC game Zeus (which is on sale for an incredibly low price on Amazon right now). While it has similar elements considering they’re both city building games, it simply isn’t as full-featured as other city building games.
A good city building game has a grid system, allowing players to build buildings and roads anywhere on a grid. Many iPad city builders, including Empire Builder have pre-made plots to build on and (in this case specifically) the roads are already built. Empire Builder is ported over from a PC game of the same name but is limited in the same way many iPad city builders are. This severely limits the customization of a genre that should have nearly infinite possibilities (ex. SimCity).
Obvious from its subtitle (Ancient Egypt), the game takes place in ancient Egypt. The goal is to complete missions or just gain as much money as possible in Sandbox mode. Missions normally include building a certain amount of specific buildings and infrastructure. The
game can be played in either Timed or Relaxed mode; no time limit existing in Relaxed mode. It’s called Relaxed mode but is by no means a slow-paced game. A good player is constantly tapping all over the screen directing workers, buying, and selling buildings in order to increase money and materials.
Buildings can be put up for auction and are given three offers for the player to take that run out with time. Each offer can be haggled down based on a random chance. Buildings that aren’t owned are randomly sold for various prices that can also be haggled. This creates an interesting gameplay style that involves building along with buying and selling, which creates the faster-paced style that most city builders can’t claim.
I had two noticeable problems with the game itself. The game doesn’t constantly save progress. So when the app crashed on me, I lost all progress on the current mission I was on. Also, I experienced a glitch during one of the missions that didn’t automatically end the mission. When I navigated to the main screen, hoping that I wouldn’t lose my progress, the game showed that I never played that mission. It was annoying to say the least.
I picked up Empire Builder expecting a slow-paced, customizable city builder but ended up with a completely different game. It isn’t the best city builder I’ve ever played, but its buying and selling component makes it an interesting and rather fun take on the genre.