City Builder? Sounds like a Sim City rip-off, well that’s where you’d be wrong, in fact, this quaint little German simulator couldn’t be any different from the multi-million unit selling strategy, and in fact, what it presents is an interesting concept indeed!
Brought to retail thanks to the one true publisher of the delightfully obscure; Excalibur Publishing, City Builder is a simulation of running a construction business, that includes hiring your workers, purchasing materials for construction, taking them to the site and of course putting the whole thing together.
The execution is pulled off surprisingly well, and the small town you reside in is upcoming in the world of building construction, and with construction sites cropping up overnight by a couple of big firms, your job is to provide them with your services. Each job is generated randomly, so a particular site may already have someone else fulfilling their need of bricks, concrete workmen and gardening, but require another contractor to carry out the rest of the jobs, this is where you come in.
There are two types of work that a construction site requires; labour and supplies, if a site requires bricklayers all you need to do is have one of your free teams attend the site, however of course, unless there are bricks already on the site, your workmen will have to wait whilst they are procured. Supplying the resources for a site are fairly similar, all you need to have is the suitable vehicle, take the job and send your men off to one of the many suppliers around town, the closer the less time it will take to supply the site, or the further away, the cheaper the resources, it all depends on how much profit you want to make at the end of the day, weighed up against how long you feel the construction should take to complete.
The bulk of the work you carry out will be fulfilling contracts for other construction companies, however after you’ve got your footing in the industry you’ll have the opportunity to begin your own constructions from scratch with everything from post offices to large family houses, whilst it is a costly process; as every aspect comes out of your own wallet, you do get a high return selling the property to a buyer! On top of your standard constructions you also have the opportunity to build up your empire with new roads, and parks to increase the value and growth of your city, not to mention the value of your properties.
The only real downfall of the games’ inventive take on city construction is you never feel as though you are competing for the contracts that are so lucrative for you, when a construction site appears, several of the jobs will already have been taken, but it seems as though the jobs that are free will simply wait until you take them, leaving you to take on jobs at your leisure with no real pressure on completing them for money.
Besides your own constructions and the odd contract here and there on building sites, as your reputation grows you’ll begin receiving offers from the council to erect structures to aid with the community, such as schools and government buildings, these offers will come complete with deadlines that must be met least you pay a penalty each day the building is not completed. These offers are similar to constructing your own buildings and require you to take on every aspect of the construction process, with a rather gracious payoff for completion, without these added challenges the game would most definitely get a little stale, however the thrill of completing them on time creates a very addictive side-portion of the game.
Unfortunately, much like CyberphobX’s other games such as Police Simulator, the UI; one of the most important aspects of such a city-building simulator is simply too unintuitive! Nothing is plain and simple to the user, and whilst a tutorial does introduce you to the game, you are never shown how to hire workers, or where to find particular buildings to construct. You’re going to have to spend a good few minutes investigating exactly where everything is, so those that got frustrated in CyberphobX’s previous titles, well you may just have to take a deep breath before approaching City Builder.
Controller wise you may not be able to fully remember the button commands on a In a world of graphically superior gaming on the PC, City Builder is a humble throw back to the great tycoon strategies of yore, but unless you have a particularly low tolerance to any game that does not reside in the uncanny valley, the simplicity of the game’s appearance comes off as relatively beneficial, and possibly even helps out with the addictive qualities of it.
However certain aspects of the games simple nature come off as a hindrance, for instance the game can never zoom in or out from the standard zoom, and you rely on a minimap that is almost illegible for the same reason. Similarly some icons are difficult to decipher, and without tool tips some players may get a little lost in the game.
As city building strategies go, City Builder is not a particularly difficult affair, with low running costs on hired workers, you never feel the need to worry that you’ll ever run low on funds in the long run, sure vehicles in your possession must be maintained to keep them road worthy, but you never feel as though you are teetering on the edge of your bank balance.
City Builder is a exceedingly original and interesting take on the often plain and conventional city building tycoon, not only is it easy to pick up, but its simple gameplay mechanics can lead to many hours lost fulfilling contracts and selling property, unfortunately it’s lack of competition and confusing UI will deter some potential players.
City Builder is available now in all good retailers for the SRP of £24.99, and is a very intriguing spin on the typical ‘city builder’.