I have a serious thing for city-building games. Even though I almost never play on the PC, my addiction was rekindled when I read Matt’s recent post about modern Sim City alternatives. Where I do play, however, is on my Android device (these days it’s a Galaxy S2, which is a fantastic device for gaming). So I decided to take you on a little tour of a free and full-featured SimCity clone for Android called My Country.
While the game is free, it’s a rather large download, and takes up 27MB of space. Fortunately, almost all of that space is on the SD card – the game takes up only 840KB of “phone” memory. In case you’re not sure whether or not the review of the game is worth your time, I’ll have you know the game has a 4.5 star rating, with over 75,000 reviews on the Market at the time of this writing – one of the most impressive rating records I’ve seen in recent memory.
Above is the first thing you see when starting the game. Lovely-looking Mary walks you through an interactive tutorial, to get you familiar with the game. The soundtrack isn’t exactly mind-blowing, but it’s not irritating, either (which is more than I can say about a few of the other Android games I tested recently).
Okay, now it’s time to select a head office:
I’ll be going with a Corporate HQ this time. Next, Mary has you build a taxi cab company:
This is a bit odd. I find it difficult to understand why a taxi cab stand would be the very first thing I would build in a new city. Okay, let’s go with the flow and Get It Done (as the button says). Now that you’ve agreed to build the taxi stand (not that you had much choice), you get to pick where to put it:
You can carefully think about your location and change it by dragging around the map. Only once you’ve hit the check mark do you commit to it. Also, note that unlike other city building simulations, as you drag the building, the road goes right along with it.
Of course, the building won’t show up all in one piece once you confirm it:
To make the process faster, you can tap the clock icon above the building. But speeding up the process doesn’t come for free:
The game goes into much more detail than I’m used to in other city-building games, in terms of hiring actual employees for the taxi stand, etc. I had to go through a whole song and dance to hire someone to man the station. Once that’s done, I could “launch a contract”, which means I let the station operate and thus make money:
This is a large game, but the developer’s commitment to guiding the user through the first steps is very evident. The tutorial really takes you step by step and provides lots of positive feedback along the way:
Besides starting contracts, you can also upgrade existing buildings and facilities so as to get higher profits from them in the future. Every building in the city is making you money. To see exactly how much a building is making you, tap it:
$210 is very little money in the game, which is why upgrading your buildings is a good idea. Speaking of money, the game does a good job of converting your real, hard-earned cash into in-game money. In fact, there are two different currency types in the game. One is called “CountryBucks” (of which I have 23, above), and the other is called Game Dollars. Let’s look at the exchange rate for CountryBucks:
So you can actually spend a whopping $100 of real US dollars just by tapping a button. Jus for the heck of it, I went ahead and tapped the button, to see how easy this might be:
The answer is “extremely easy”. Do be careful when you let a child play this game – in-app purchases can add up to some (very) surprising totals by the end of the month.
Having said that, the game doesn’t feel pushy, and it is certainly possible to play without buying in-game currency for real money.
This was a very small taste of the game. It does try to market the in-game purchases a bit later by offering a 30% discount for the first 24 hours, but doesn’t feel spammy otherwise. All in all, this feels like a robust, capable city simulator. I can see why it got such rave reviews on the market.
Do you have a favorite city builder for Android? Do share in the comments, and I might review it or include it in a roundup!