I downloaded this game with tempered expectations, after all this game was published by the same company that turned Dungeon Keeper into a hot mess for Android and iOS. Even expecting this game to be bad I still found room for myself to be disappointed with it. This is a game that should be avoid at all costs. Every horrible mechanic from the free to play wasteland has been over implemented and spaced strategically to make a player run into a pay wall as often as possible, forcing the player into a death loop of monetization.
The player begins with an empty city and is instructed to begin building homes tiles for “sims” to move in to. In order to complete the construction of houses you will need to build materials from factories. The factories have multiple tiers of prices, ranging from free to $50,000 of in game currency. The important differentiators between the different factories are the size of the production queue and the level of pollution, the free factory being the worst is only able to produce 2 items and has a high level of pollution, while the most expensive one is able to produce 5 and doesn’t pollute. The items that are produced in these factories take anywhere between 1 minute to 13 hours and you will be frequently reminded that you can speed up the production of the factories by using some of the game’s secondary currency which requires you to use your credit card to acquire.
While these factories are producing items you are either expected to sit around and watch the timer count down to zero or you can close the app and do something else for the time that it takes to produce the item. Whatever you chose you will eventually have yourself some materials to finish the construction of the houses that you had planted down and you will repeat the process until your sims start to complain, and they will complain a lot, about the missing utilities and public services available to them.
The utilities will start off small, only power and water will be needed initially, but as your population grows you will need to expand it to police, fire fighters, garbage collection, sewage disposal. All of these items require more and more money to construct and the only way to get money is to build more buildings, further increasing your population which coincidentally increases the need for these services that you were trying to get money to build. I call this process the SimCity Build It death cycle and it is the core part of game play. Another way to get money is to collect taxes, but this is based completely on the happiness of your citizens, so if they are not happy they will not pay taxes (if only that was allowed in Canada) further increasing the need to build and upgrade your existing homes which starts the death cycle anew.
Upgrading the houses, instead of just building new ones, requires their own special materials, so you will need to build supplemental buildings, like a hardware store to turn wood and steel into hammers. But unlike your normal factories that can produce 2-5 items simultaneously these can only produce one thing at a time, because the owners of these buildings have never heard of the concept of an assembly line. Each building starts with only two items that can be queued into production, which will require you to come back and frequently check on your city, if you want to increase the production queue then you will need to use the premium currency to buy another slot.
If you stick with this game long enough you will eventually reach the point where the starting land simply isn’t enough and you will need to expand. Well you can expand your land immediately by pulling out your credit card, or you can collect items that randomly drop from the thought bubbles of your sims. The only problem with this is, you have limited storage for items, and the items that you use to expand your land and the items that you use to upgrade your buildings to earn more money are fighting for the same storage space. Don’t worry, you can expand your storage by collecting items that drop from the thought bubbles of your sims, but not the same items as the ones you use to expand your land, a completely different set of items that is dedicated to increasing the size of your “warehouse”, or you can pull out your credit card and increase your storage immediately. Now we have 2 death loops in full gear at this point.
To make matters worse, some buildings, like buildings for entertainment, of public transportation require a special currency. Not the currency that you use to build factories, and not the currency that you get from paying money, but a third currency, “keys”, to be able to construct them. Keys are only able to be collected by completing quests in the shipyard or in Vu Tower. Don’t ask me what Vu Tower is like because I quit playing the game before I ever bothered to see what that was all about, but the shipyard just requires you to use your factories to build items and pack them onto a cargo ship that arrives once a day, taking up more of your storage space that was supposed to go to expanding your city. Don’t worry, if you can’t finish the construction of something in time to get it onto the cargo ship, you could always try to go to the global marketplace to try to buy it from another player, but the marketplace is a burning train wreck.
Players are able to have multiple items for sale, but they are not advertised on the marketplace by default, they are just put up for sale and nobody can see them. The only way an item can be purchased if it isn’t advertised is one of your friends, who also plays the game, on the same platform, needs to visit your city and see what you have for sale, you can’t just go and visit random cities to see what is for sale. You are allowed to advertise 1 item on the marketplace every three hours, but don’t worry if you want to pull out your credit card you will be able to advertise whatever you want, whenever you want.
If you are trying to buy an item that does happen to be for sale, you can’t just buy it from the listing that you see in your city, because that would be too easy. In order to buy something, you need to see the advertisement that is publicly displayed, then you will need to travel to the city, which has a load time, then you need to look at the marketplace while inside the city and just hope that nobody else has bought the item while you were going through the load screen. Very frequently the item has already been purchased and you have just wasted your time travelling to the city, and even if the item is still listed in the marketplace when you get to the city, by the time you click on the buy button, somebody has already snatched it up and you will just be presented with a screen saying that the item is already gone.
All of these systems upon systems all working with each other to put road blocks in your way just serve to frustrate you and they have forced me to uninstall this game and say good riddance. This game is only passable as a time waster that you could spend 5 minutes on every now and again, but even with that you are constantly told to pull out your credit card and fork over more and more money to do anything, and the longer you spend in the game the longer it takes for you to do anything. SimCity Build It is more a test of your patients then a game, and I highly suggest that nobody give this game the time of day. For all of its flaws the 2013 release of SimCity is a significantly better game than this and I would much rather prefer to be playing that.
The Staff at Caps N’ Coins have started to call these types of games Babysitting Games.