Game Review: SimCity BuildIt (Mobile – Free to Play)


SimCity BuildIt is a city builder game that has more depth then most but that’s not saying much considering it is a free-to-play game filled with greedy in-app purchases. Two warning signs are present from the start…free-to-play & EA as both are famous for their money grabbing tactics.

The aim of the game is simple…build up your very own city, keep your Sims happy, build up your resources & trade.

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Now here is the interesting thing…when they say build it they don’t actually mean build it. Houses, factories & other buildings are already built & all you’re doing is placing them on the map. There are a limited number with more  unlocked the higher your level goes. Your factories will produce goods that are then used to upgrade your houses with sky-scrapers the eventual plan.

Again the further you make it, the higher your level goes the & the tougher this becomes. Early upgrades will need basic products, perhaps 1 or 2 items while later upgrades will require upwards of 7 different things.

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Your factories are limited in number & cost money…a lot of money for the larger ones. The bigger the factory, the more products you can get with basic factory only allowing 2 things at a time.

Factories is where the famous timers come into play. Every product you order has a timer. These range from 60 seconds to 3 hours but can always be sped up for the premium currency.

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I’ll get to this in the moment but first I want to mention Sim happiness. It’s easy enough to keep in control as long as you’re willing to spend. You see as your city expands you will need to build important buildings such as sewage plants, power supply buildings, police stations, hospitals etc. Keeping enough of these spread out across your city is the key to having happy Sims.

Sadly it is impossible to keep on top of this at later levels as the demand becomes too high & the money not enough.

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The basic currency is coins…these are earned in a number of ways. Daily taxation (increasing depending on Sim happiness), cargo ships, upgrading houses & online trade. It’s an actual nice surprise to see just how many different ways there are to increase your basic coin vaults that is until you see the cost of some of the buildings.

Let’s say you earn 3000 coins from taxation, maybe you trade some of your items for 1000 coins & you earn about 5000 from upgrading some houses. That gives you 9000 coins (a very decent haul & one that won’t occur much). A small Health clinic that will barely cover any of your houses costs 12300. A water pumping station costs 45000! There are cheaper options but they won’t cover enough & you’ll just end up buying multiples anyway.

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It’s all about waiting…waiting until you’ve saved enough unless you pay for some premium currency. Now this comes in the form of Simoleons (dollars) of which you are given a limited number. You can earn more by completing achievements (A really nice touch) but not much.

250 SimCash will set you back £3.99…for that price surely that will give you a fair bit, right? Wrong…to get the 45000 coins water pumping station I would need an additional 41048 or I could buy 1313 Simoleons. The nearest amount to that number is 1300 for the grand price of £14.99 + the 250 for £3.99…so for me to get this pumping station, just one building I would have to spend £18.98.

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Now you might think I’m just pointing out the worst case scenario…I’m not. The pumping station is just 1 of 2 buildings that give your Sims water so you either have to spend lots of coins on smaller pumps or pay big bucks for one big one. This is the same process for almost all the buildings.

How can this be defendable? The tired-ass trope that they need to make money & the game is free is inexcusable here. They aren’t asking you for a couple of quid & then everything is available…they want almost £20 for one building. Your Sims need water, power, medical facilities, sewage plants, dumps etc.

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Sure you don’t have to pay but I’m telling you the game will slow to an almost complete stop at around the level 16/17 mark. The game suggest that you sell things on the global market to earn more money but you can’t earn enough here to make any real progress. Listing it on there requires a 5 minute timer or, you guessed it, premium currency.

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Nothing sells for much except your tools to open up the map further or increase your storage space (which of course are limited unless you play real money).

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It’s such a wasted opportunity as the game is actually quite addictive, is extremely playable & has not crashed on me once. It’s the kind of building game that I might recommend spending a few pounds on it but I can’t because you’d be wasting your money.

Giving this such a low score really hurts as it could have been up there as one of the best if it wasn’t for the blinkered greed. The lack of any real building as well makes the ‘buildit’ moniker seem somewhat stupid.

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SimCity BuildIt
  • 3/10
    The Final Score - 3/10
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