Like We Rule and We Farm, ngmoco‘s We City is a social strategy game tasking the player with creating a vibrant center of business. But instead of being set on a farm or a kingdom, We City allows users to build their own bustling city.
For people who are unfamiliar with its predecessors, We City is a social networking game that allows users to build their own mini city by purchasing houses, businesses, schools, and tourist attractions. The game lets you start off small, but through in-game tutorials, guides you towards the right direction. First it advises you to get some houses so your people can live, then factories so your people can work, and then schools so your people can study. After getting situated with those first steps, you’re pretty much then left to your own devices.
The more things you build, the more money and experience points you will earn in turn (you can also earn money by tapping some of the ads the game features). As you purchase more items like public pools or day spas, you can level up. You can watch your city’s square footage expand incrementally, and you can identify the level of your town by what its centerpiece is: at level 10 you will have a city hall, at level 20 you will get a capitol, and at level 30 you can get a grand capitol.
There are also novelty items that are available for certain amounts of time, like pumpkin patches and haunted houses for Halloween. Sometimes you might even get lucky and the game will feature a surprise free item of the day. During my time playing, the Statue of Liberty was available free of charge. Although I wasn’t having a real kick out of We City to begin with, getting our Lady Liberty made me surprisingly giddy.
Just like Rome however, your city can’t be built in a day. Things take time: producing surf boards in your factory, restocking shelves in your clothing store, and researching business in your college could take hours or even days. You can track an item’s status by tapping it once and view its progress bar. As of now, my Statue of Liberty is 4.9 percent into “symbolizing freedom,” and will finish in one day, four hours.
If you don’t have that kind of time, that’s where We City’s “freemium” factor kicks in—basic things are free, the really good items aren’t. To speed the progress of your city, you can always “zap” it, which is a little cheat you earn every time you level up. Of course, leveling up takes time too, so you can purchase zap units (symbolized by a little lightning bolt) with actual money. So for 10 real-life bucks, you can increase your zap by 70, build more things, and earn more non-real-life bucks faster.
Don’t worry about the placement of things if you want to redesign the look of your city too. You can always move anything, except your centerpiece, anywhere you want. We City, like We Farm and We Rule, allows you to network with fellow gamers—ensuring you can always compare how well you’re progressing or how nice your design is with other users.
Like all of ngmoco’s strategy simulator titles, the graphics in We City are cute, and you can see that as your city grows, your population will grow too. I enjoy watching my citizens walk around purposefully, even though they’re not really going anywhere. The game obviously has a lot of playtime value, and I recommend it for anyone who does not have an addictive personality and wants a progressive, long-term game they can occasionally check in with. Similarly, if you do get easily addicted to things like this and have some disposable income, then I highly recommend this game. Personally, I felt that my city was developing extremely slowly—too slowly. And while it’s fun to collect rent, see your friends’ towns, and your city’s little occupants, the entire experience seems well-worn and a little boring. While social strategy games are extremely popular right now, consider We City an example of the fad showing signs of going stale.
[Lynn La is a contributor to Macworld.]