SimCity BuildIt Review
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SimCity BuildIt Review

Our Review by Nadia Oxford on December 23rd, 2014
Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: BUILDING AN OK TOMORROW
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SimCity BuildIt is a competent city-building game, but its free-to-play trappings are borderline monstrous.

Developer: EA

Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.2.19
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Playtime Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar

Hello, Budding Mayors
Are you out of the loop when it comes to your Sims' happiness? Check out our SimCity BuildIt beginner's guide!

SimCity BuildIt is the latest game in a series celebrated for letting regular schmoes seat themselves behind the mayor's desk. No training in urban planning? No background in politics? No problem! Anyone can put a house anywhere they like in SimCity. If citizens get irate over being forced to live and breed beside a nuclear power plant, well, it's nothing an attack from Godzilla won't silence.

That said, SimCity BuildIt is less complicated than its older kin. Given it's intended for quick, bite-sized mobile play sessions that's not necessarily a bad thing. Whereas traditional SimCity games tend to encourage players to plan in square patterns, SimCity BuildIt is about lines. Houses and industries are built along streets, and so are most of the utilities that keep them running. There's no mucking around with pipes and power lines, which is nice for anyone playing on a tiny phone screen.

On the flipside, SimCity BuildIt's orderly gameplay kind of defeats the purpose of SimCity. Expansion is regulated by the player's level (as is typical of most free-to-play building games). Is order what SimCity really stands for, though? Anyone that wants to toss the rules and lay down neighborhoods in a pattern that spells out the F-word should be allowed to. It's a right given by the game gods.

Then there's having to deal with the barriers typical of a free-to-play game (and then some). Building and upgrading homes in SimCity BuildIt requires building materials, which are manufactured at industries. At first this manufacturing process is easy. Houses and buildings may require a couple of bricks of steel, which can be cranked out in a minute.

But as the player levels up and their factories' capabilities expand, the waiting game begins. Suddenly, a simple house that previously required a bit of steel can't be built without plastic, wood, and other material that takes minutes to process instead of seconds. And, as might be expected, everything can be bought or sped up through hard currency ("SimCash").

Things get even more aggravating with the introduction of advanced services like fire departments and schools. Instead of serving an entire street like most utilities, fire houses and schools serve all the houses within a specified radius. Said radius is pretty small unless the player shells out a lot of Simoleons for larger fire houses and schools. Unsurprisingly, earning Simoleons in the first place is a dreadfully slow process (unless, again, a credit card is involved). The player can technically shuffle residents around so that they're better served, but there's so little room to work with in the first place.

Despite its simplicity, SimCity BuildIt is actually fun to play until the dreaded paywall pops up (expect it sooner rather than later). Once it arrives the game is still playable, but only in quick snatches between long waits. Either way, this is the only official SimCity app that exists on the digital marketplace for now, so love it or leave it.

iPhone Screenshots

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iPad Screenshots

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