Android Game Review: Virtual City Playground

A couple of months ago G5 released the iPad version of Virtual City Playground, and I noted it was like ‘Sandbox mode set free’ and really enjoyed playing. Now it has arrived on Android and iPhone. Read on to find out what I thought!

The Hype:
Your favorite Virtual City gameplay is now FREE in Virtual City Playground! Make even your most ambitious dreams a reality! Build the city of your dreams… and then run it.

• Play sandbox mode for FREE! No predefined missions
• Over 85 new optional quests
• Over 90 new buildings, landmarks, and decorations, including Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Coliseum, Sydney Opera, and many more!
• 95 new achievements to earn
• Regular FREE updates that will bring more content!
• Facebook integration
• Minimized games continue transporting goods – making you money, even while you sleep!

The Reality:

I reviewed Virtual City HD for Android last month, saying:

Virtual City is my favorite portable city-building game, and is available on the Android Market for a free download with in-app purchase for the full game, making it an easy recommendation recommendation. Even the in-game purchase of the full adventure at $2.85 is an absolute must-have for anyone who has ever enjoyed a city building game, but I would still suggest checking out the free edition before committing to the full game. If you enjoy it as much as I do, buy with confidence!

It is a game that I keep on my Android Tablet as well as my iPad and go back to every now and then because it is simple and fun. After it was initially released for the iPhone and iPad, G5 added the ‘sandbox’ mode that allowed you to freely develop your city, which was an awesome feature included with the Android version at release:

The SandBox mode lets you start with a blank city and some amount of money. As the starting screen says ‘there are no deadlines, no limits, and the only rule here is to have a good time.’ If you want to add extra cash for building, you can buy virtual cash using an in-app purchase (i.e. with REAL money) – but as stated, it is purely optional, and you can even remove the button so that kids or others using your iPad don’t accidentally charge purchases to your iTunes account. This is a great way to handle things that is very family friendly!

Now G5 has ‘broken out of the sandbox’ and released Virtual City Playground. It takes all the awesomeness of Sandbox mode and makes it a standalone game!

There isn’t much more to talk about, so let me remind you of the basic gameplay of Virtual City:

You start the game with a blank canvas of a city to develop. A city planner is there to help you with tips and advice if desired, including some significant early hand-holding through the introductory stages.

Rather than give you a set of defined goals and a timeline, Playground allows you to build what you want but gives you optional quests to complete. These might have to do with population or money or certain buildings, and hitting the goal rewards you greatly – so you can go on and build more!

To really enjoy this game you should have at least played some part of Virtual City. This will allow you to understand how to develop the city and meet their needs. Not only do you need to do the usual construction of buildings, transport routes, improvements, and so on – you also need to manage overflowing trash, health issues, wildfires, and so on.

So while the integrated help is critical, having built up skills is even more important.

There is already loads of new content in the game compared to when I played the iPad version. G5 is constantly adding new stuff, with the goal being that you will spend real money buying in-game currency and research points in order to make use of everything.

My only issue was with the data download. I am used to the ‘install app, then wait for the data download when you try to play’. But this time the data seemed especially slow in transporting – and since my Android tablet (running Gingerbread) is useless at telling me anything about app data storage, I am not sure just how big the download it – but it felt huge and took a long time.

Virtual City Playground has a target audience – people who like Virtual City. The game allows you to escape into your virtual world and build the ultimate city and refine and optimize in order to gain achievements and unlock new items. It is a load of fun, and so long as you are careful about your building plans you should be able to stick to the resources you develop in the game – otherwise the in-game costs can add up quickly (minimum research/currency packs I found were $2.08).

Here is the trailer for the Android version:

Android Game Review: Virtual City Playground

Where to Buy: Android Market. Note: Virtual City Playground is also now available on iPhone.

Price: Free (in-game currency can cost real money)

What I Like: Excellent tutorial brings you into the Playground; Clear and challenging objectives give you reasons to keep playing; Plenty of variety of things to do; excellent graphics; sandbox mode is a blast!

What Needs Improvement: Initial data load is gruelingly long!

Source: Publisher provided review code.

Categories: Gaming, Reviews

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3 replies

  1. How the hell do I “minimize” the game??


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