App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Since I spend a good deal of my time playing iOS games on the subway, I'm usually not one for titles that require constant internet connections. Although there are always exceptions, as one would expect. MyTown 2 is one such exception, due in no small part to its GPS integration.
On the surface, MyTown 2 isn't all that dissimilar from other freemium city-builders. There are homes to construct, businesses to set up, expansions to be made and money to be earned. Then spent on more homes, businesses and expansions. Where it differs is in the way it uses location detection to find real-world restaurants and stores, which can be added to a town and make things feel a little more... personal I suppose is the word I'm looking for. The same GPS functionality also allows players to "check-in" on local businesses, wherever they might be playing, to acquire bonus coins, experience and special bonuses.
I have to admit, there's something compulsively satisfying about grabbing local businesses and tossing them into my town. Similarly, the rewards are fairly constant. Houses bring in rent money every few minutes and there always seems to be a handful of assigned tasks players can complete for bonus rewards. There's also en element of strategy involved when using businesses to earn cash: the more poured in to a shop, the more it can earn but the longer it takes. Conversely, as a store completes jobs it can be upgraded to earn even more money. It can be tough to decide whether or not to pursue the long-term goal of upgrading a building quickly by doing a ton of 3-minute jobs, or doing the several hour-long jobs that earn more cash but will ultimately delay progress.
Aside from the general complaint of having all my time devoured by helicopter-parenting my little suburb, there's just one thing that bugs me. I can't play during my commute. I can totally understand why it requires an internet connection, and I don't mean this as a serious dig, but it is an aspect that bothers me. Especially when there are games like Tiny Tower that can actually be played without the wireless shackles.
As far as free-to-play urban planning games go, I'd definitely consider MyTown 2 one to check out. The consistent sense of progression and the little personal touch of incorporating local businesses make it stand out in the crowd of games that require real-world money to speed things along (or just lots of patience). Make sure that Location Services are turned on and prepare to lose hours of free time.