SimCity iPhone App Review


In follow up to a shorter, earlier post, I will be going deeper into the new SimCity game for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

I have been a big SimCity groupie since I first played SimCity 2000 many years ago.  Since then I have had spurts of weeks on and months off, as the more I play, the less I leave my house.  SimCity returns with a great iPhone version that doesn’t disappoint. 

Once you open the game you will notice almost instantly that it isn’t the fastest loading game.  That fact is multiplied even more if your city is large.  Once the home screen loads up you have a few options including continue, load, new, and quit options.  Hitting load opens up the cities that you have previously saved.  Selecting continue will load the last used city.  I really like the look of the menu system and overall look of the GUI.  That graphical candy does come at a price though as navigation isn’t exactly silky smooth.  Even if you restart your phone prior to play the game, navigating through the plethora of menus and building selections is often jumpy and lagging.

The game is one that takes a long time to play.  Even if you are lousy at managing your city in the short term, often if you ride out the rough times (sometimes spanning decades in the game), you can usually work your way back to a semi profitable city.

The controls are much like SimCity 3000 for the PC.  That is, the zoning options are pretty much straight forward and the same as earlier versions of the game.  You have residential, commercial, industrial, and a zone for waste removal such as a dump.  There are 3 different densities for each zone.  So 12 total different zones in all.  Im glad the designers started from scratch with a touchscreen in mind with this game rather than just port an older version over as many other game developers have unfortunately done.  The extra thought and time really shows as while the menus are kind of slow, they are very logical and easy to navigate.

What would a city with numerous building options be if you couldn’t financially manage your city?  SimCity doesn’t disappoint in that it offers a fairly robust array of options for managing city finances.  Everything from different zones’ taxes to business deals with other cities, to ordinances are included.  Again accessing, changing, and recording finances are straight forward and easy to use.

One feature that I am glad they included are the natural disasters.  I don’t know about you but after spending 60 years on a city only to have it start going down the tubes, read: Detroit, I have some fun and unleash a few tornadoes with an earthquake or two for added pleasure.  Is it sadistic, maybe, but its all good clean fun.

On top of all the other goodies, you can overlay all kinds of maps so you can see what areas have power, water, population densities, etc.  You can also view boatloads of graphs showing sort of the same things that the map over views show.

If building your own city isn’t your cup of tea, you can load several pre-built cities and jump feet first into whole city managing madness.

In conclusion I come away from SimCity greatly impressed on the iPhone port.  It is easy to pick up and play for a few minutes as well as getting sucked in and spending several hours to many days in it.  Whatever amount of time you spend on it, one thing for sure is that SimCity won’t disappoint.

Check out the gallery for screenshots of pretty much all of the GUI!