SimCity BuildIt: Briefly Entertaining, But Heavily Neutered Version of Desktop Game


In building SimCity BuildIt, a mobile version of the classic city building/management game SimCity, it seems that EA forgot what made fans love the actual desktop game in favor of trying to monetize the game to get as much money out of fans possible.  Now, to be fair, you can enjoy BuildIt without spending real cash, I certainly never spent any, but they do their best to convince you that it is a must to do.  With the introduction of the Omega city items, they really ramped up the efforts, but you can still play without paying.

For me, the real failing with SimCity BuildIt is the same of so many mobile games, after the newness wears off, it becomes monotonous and dull.   Unlike with the real SimCity, there’s very little you can do with regards to customization of your city. The land size is limited and the layout of the land is the exact same flat little plot of earth for all players.  You gather special items to “expand” but eventually it runs out.  There are no unique challenges in terms of land elevations and configurations, no worrying about gather resources that can use used for your city or traded, no having to really balance city services, or really doing any actual city management. It’s tap, build, wait, and maybe spend money to make it faster.  The only real limitation on any building is everything except landscape items must connect to a street, even when it makes little sense to require it (like a park, for example).

Once you’ve gotten all the land expansions and buildings built, you are left with little to do.   No more goals, no more challenges, and while they regularly introduce new buildings, you only have so much land to put them on.  Even the recently added city contests turned monotonous after the first couple of rounds, with the same dull, easy to complete tasks handed out so regularly they are almost predictable.   Disasters aren’t “accidents” you can set them off mostly at will, but they have little impact on the city at all.  Only houses are ever destroyed, no city resources, and rebuilding is laughably easy.

Unlike the desktop version, you can’t even hit the restart button and build again to see how your city changes, at least not easily.  Houses must be deleted one by one, some buildings (like most Omega stuff) can’t be deleted at all once built.   Even if you delete everything you can manually, eventually the city just turns out the same.  I know, I’ve done it twice so far.  But there is just no uniqueness in the buildings, they all just evolve to the same boring skyscrapers unless you do international ones, and even those repeat with nauseating frequency.  The roads are all the same, the land, everything.  The other option is to disconnect the game from the Game Center or Facebook, uninstall it, and then reinstall and have your new city overwrite the old, except then you give up all monies and items collected along the way, including special buildings no longer available.

Is it a limitation of mobile devices that the game can’t have more unique elements and components?  Somehow, I doubt it…rather it seems more EAs odd decision to forgo doing a true, if limited, port of SimCity and instead basically just do a Farmville-type game and slap the SimCity label on it.  It was a good game for a couple of months worth of fun, but in the end, for me it has no lasting appeal and has become a dull chore rather than a source of excitement.  I suspect now that I’ve finished helping my one friend who also plays (and was the one to introduce it to me) has met his goal with regard to item gathering, my playing will stop all together.