I imagine many of you were turned off by SimCity Social as soon as you saw the word “Social”. Yes, this is a Facebook game, and I’d postulate that the target audience of most of these type of games doesn’t have a huge cross-over with our target audience.
Nevertheless I’m going to tell you about SimCity Social, although this is by no means a review: the game’s only in open beta meaning huge swathes of content are missing, and they might well tweak some of the gameplay mechanics (they sure could use it).
No, instead this is a look at the purpose of SimCity Social.[videoyoutube]See, I’m not actually convinced the game is there to make money. If it does pull in some cash then I’m sure EA will be more than happy, but realistically I’m not sure if anyone will get involved in the game enough to pump some money into it.
If you do drop cash into the game you’re buying gems, and they’re a weird currency. See, they don’t have much use in and of themselves. You can, if you feel like it, convert gems into other forms of currency in the game (such as Simoleons or energy), to unlock content before it normally would or to speed up the next collection from one of your properties.
You can even use it to hire staff that are needed for certain buildings in your city, although you can also hire friends if there are enough of them playing the game. However, there doesn’t seem to be anything that actually requires gems and only gems, it makes them feel really odd as a currency.
The only reason I can see for buying gems is that you earn them so slowly, and they speed up a game which already feels very slow. Although the refresh rate on energy, the resource that actually lets you take a turn, is only a few minutes, the game still feels unbearably slow at times.
Once you start building up your city you can burn through your energy pretty quickly, particularly as you even need to use energy to pick up resources from your factories or shops. It’s a highly frustrating system.
I know that Facebook games aren’t typically designed to be played for any significant amount of time so the pacing typically isn’t all that important, but SimCity Social really does get dull very fast. What it does do, very successfully in fact, is trigger a deep, primal urge to go and play some real SimCity.[drop]You see, my city in SimCity Social is only tiny – more of a SimVillage really.
This is simply because of the way you earn resources in Social, you don’t really get enough energy or Simoleons to expand at any sort of speed. It’s annoying, and makes you long for SimCity proper.
It’s giving you a little taste of the Sim construction power again, enough to stir up long lost memories of just how much fun earlier SimCity games were.
Even if you pay money in SimCity Social it’s going to be a slow process to build up your city, almost depressingly slow, but the same isn’t true of older SimCity games (and presumably the new one).
You’re never going to fulfil the desire to expand that SimCity Social triggers, but play a fully fledged SimCity and you’ll be sorted.
I fully expect a real push for SimCity Social, perhaps moving it out of beta, when the new SimCity game hits early next year. Sure, SimCity Social may be fun for some, but to me (and a few others I’ve talked to) it’s increased our interest in that game, and older entries, ten-fold.
Now if you’ll excuse me, my mayoral mansion needs upgrading.
You can play SimCity Social here.