SimCity for iPhone – Full Review

Written iPhone Game App Review

Price: $9.99    Score: 8/10    By Shaun CampbellSimCity?

It’s the Sim that started it all.

It’s a game that really needs no introduction. Maxis’ classic city-builder, SimCity, is without a doubt one of the most popular and influential games ever made. The original SimCity was such a runaway success that it formed the launching pad for an entirely new genre of games.

When I originally heard that SimCity was coming out on the iPhone, I was actually surprised. SimCity? On the iPhone? No way.

As it turns out, the folks over at EA have actually done a remarkably good job at transporting a full-featured version of the game to a mobile platform. And this is no Diet SimCity or SimCity Lite – this is the real deal. There are advisors, budgets, water pipes, customizable starting maps, disasters & more.

The first thing you’ll notice about SimCity is the clean, easy-to-use game interface. A simple and attractive side-bar provides easy access to the five main building tools: zoning, transport, utilities, municipals & the bulldozer. Clicking on zoning, for example, will trigger a pop-out menu with additional choices: residential, commercial and industrial. Selecting one of these categories triggers a third menu offering light, medium and high-density options. Nothing in the game is more than 3 taps away. Along the bottom of the screen, there are also smaller menu icons which let you access your advisers, change game speed and add map overlays.

Thanks to the intuitive control system, SimCity is not as cumbersome to play as one might think, given the screen size. You can rotate through five pre-set levels of zoom with a simple double-tap, or you can use pinch-zoom if you prefer. As you would expect, laying down roads and zones exactly where you want can be a little tricky. Fingers aren’t precision instruments, after all. To make things easier, there is a little tool that pops up to help you make adjustments when laying down objects with variable size, such as residential zoning, roads, water pipes and electrical lines. Once you have laid something down you will get the option to alter the length, width or placement of the object. It’s an essential feature for a game like this, and it does work quite well.

When starting a new game, there are three difficulty levels to choose from;

  • Easy: §50,000
  • Medium: §20,000
  • Hard: -§10,000

Starting cash is the only difference between the levels – game play is identical. Even on Medium, you have to be very careful not to go build-crazy before you have the income to support it.  Be warned that SimCity does involve a fair bit of economic micro-managing if you intend to stay in the black. Via your balance sheet, you can access residential, commercial and industrial tax levels, ordinance income, monthly expenses and loan repayments, and make adjustments as necessary. As in previous SimCity games, there is an events ticker that runs along the bottom of the screen which gives you running updates on citizen concerns and advisor recommendations. Your advisors are also on hand to offer advice on all aspects of city management.

Overall, the game-play in SimCity is smooth and enjoyable. Load/save times can be a bit long, but it’s a small complaint. The music is typically jazzy & upbeat and the graphics are definitely some of the best I’ve seen in an iPhone game. If you’re a fan of the series, or a fan of sim games in general, I recommend taking a look at SimCity.

*N.B SimCity requires iPhone firmware update v2.2.

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