Virtual City is a realtime strategy app in the vein of Civilisation and RollerCoaster Tycoon where your goal is to manage the day-to-day running of a city. More specifically, you’re tasked with ensuring the streets don’t overflow with garbage, your population remains happy and the neighbouring city is well supplied with cake. Yes, really. As always with this genre, what starts as a fairly banal experience quickly becomes extremely addictive indeed.
We start this review with a word of warning. On the Android Market, Virtual City is advertised as a free app, it’s not. What you’ll actually download is a six level demo/tutorial which stops at the point the app is is ready to set you free to fend for yourself. If you’re willing to shell out £3.08 to unlock the full app you’ll be treated to a well-rounded game with a multitude of options and plenty of imaginary tediums to distract you from the tediums of real life.
Once you get past this minor hiccup, Virtual City is an extremely entertaining app indeed. The tutorial levels are so thorough, that once you’re released into the proper levels you’ll be in little doubt how to succeed. Each outing sees you tasked with reviving a town’s flagging fortunes because the population are unhappy, their environment is in a bad shape or they just really need some cake to give their digital lives some meaning.
Fixing these problems is a basic point and tap affair on your Android’s touchscreen, although a clunky control system often means you select the wrong building by accident.
“No not the oil refinery. I wanted the bakery!!!”
As you progress through the app, the populations you manage become larger and larger and so do the array of pointless installations you can build.
“Anyone for a space shuttle launch centre?”
All these ludicrous buildings are unlocked through research and development points which you accumulate by completing levels in timely fashion and with plenty of money in the bank.
At one point or another, you’re going to get bored with Virtual City’s endless parade of mall building, building buses to take customers to the mall and upgrading the buses so they can carry even more customers to the mall. Astoundingly, we found it took several hours of gameplay for us to question why the hell we were so preoccupied with our computerised friends and neglecting our proper ones. Bearing that in mind, we can’t say Virtual City is anything other than a triumph.
The Bottom Line
Virtual City takes the best of past RTS classics and moulds them into a nimble and addictive Android app.
Version reviewed 1.0.3
Requires Android 2.1 or higher