Reviews

Virtual City Playground Review

Virtual City Playground Review

Virtual City Playground is the free follow-up to G5 Entertainment’s Virtual City, keeping many of the first game’s basic concepts, but adding in a new style of gameplay that will be familiar to players of games like Zynga’s Cityville. The biggest change is that, instead of just paying to purchase a garbage truck or build a new factory, you also need to expend energy, which is the slowly self-regenerating bane of your existence, recovering at one point per five minutes initially. Energy is definitely a game-changing dynamic, with significant impacts on the game’s pacing and play style. But are those positive impacts or negative?

The Good Stuff

Supply chain management can be more fun than you’d ever think possible – Sentences you never think you’d say, especially in the context of a video game review. But Virtual City Playground, and the gameplay it borrows from its predecessor, can be quite fun. Building your city isn’t just about placing buildings, it’s about routing trucks to deliver supplies and products, running buses between residential areas and entertainment venues, and picking up the mountains of trash. The buildings are the foundation of your city, but its the transportation network that generates the real wealth and gives you the resources to build more buildings. Upgrading your buildings and vehicles will increase your earnings, allow you to buy more, and more, and more, including more land for your city to grow.

Instead of scenarios, Virtual City Playground offers a variety of missions (at least 200, according to the Achievements) that walk you through many of the basics of the game, building up to complex management of pick ups and deliveries. But there is something oddly fun about managing the assortment of trucks, garbage trucks, and buses that will populate your city streets, and the challenges are generally easy enough but come at such a quick pace that there’s always something to do. It never really becomes a true open world game (oddly enough, that option was in the original Virtual City), but there’s still enough to do, following the missions or just adding buildings, to keep players entertained.

The actual supply chains themselves are the same as the last game, including magazines, cosmetics and automobiles, but Virtual City Playground features plenty of new houses and entertainment buildings to add, as well as a host of famous landmarks.

It’s free. Kinda – Downloading Virtual City Playground from the App Store is free, but once you get into the game, you’ll see plenty of opportunities for microtransactions. Specifically, you can purchase more city credits (money) or invest points, which let you unlock buildings earlier than the game allows from level ups, or to purchase landmarks, which increase the recharging rate of your energy and make your city look better in the process.

Frankly, there’s little reason to purchase city credits unless you are thoroughly impatient since the first handful of missions will set you up with a functioning economy and a steady stream of income. Invest points, on the other hand, can be much more useful since you will want to get landmarks built in your city as quickly as possible. There’s a fine balance at work between what you can do for free (given enough time) and what you’ll be tempted to pay for, and its up to each gamer how much they want to augment their city through in-App purchases.

This game has a crazy number of achievements – If you go for that kind of thing, Virtual City Playground has more than 90 achievements to be earned, with most of them earned naturally through the course of play, and many without you even realizing you are working towards them.

The Bad Stuff

The absolutely horrendously bad pacing  – I can’t help but feel that Virtual City Playground could have been so much more fun if I could play it for more than a few minutes at a time. And yet, every time I sit down to get into the game, I can’t fully immerse myself in the experience without feeling like the game doesn’t want me to immerse myself. Or if it does, it subtely wants me to keep paying for the privilege by making microtransaction purchases feel more and more necessary to maintain any sense of pacing.

Because the game requires energy for everything you do (from construction to upgrading to rerouting trucks) and your energy is always in limited supply, Virtual City Playgrounds plays a dangerous game of hurry up and wait. Dangerous because rather than waiting and coming back to the game, gamers might just as easily move on to something else. You can help things along by working hard (or paying) to get landmarks built, and thus improve your energy regeneration rate, but when you might have to NOT play the game for a good hour just so that you can play for a couple of short minutes, it feels like a terrible design choice.

But then Zynga has made millions pioneering this model, so it will definitely appeal to someone. But after Virtual City’s scenarios let you play at your own pace, even in that game’s less robust sandbox mode, feeling so constrained here, in something that I really WANTED to invest my time into, devalues the experience.

The Parent Stuff

Virtual City Playground isn’t a kids’ game and, truth be told, won’t be that interesting to most teens either. But, if you can get them to check out the game, there are some basic lessons to be learned about how businesses work, and the under-appreciated management of supplies, inventories, and public transportation. Sadly, “Hey kiddo, wanna play a game that teaches you about waste management?” isn’t the most enticing offer for anyone.

Other than a general lack of interest, there’s no questionable content for parents to worry about and the game’s presentation is very well organized, with challenges and processes explained very clearly (save for the occasional spelling mistake).

That said, freemium (free to play, with in-game purchases) games and children should always be a concern for parents, since our younger gamers often lack the patience that Virtual City Playground demands, and then they’d be wanting to buy more credits, more invest points, and doing whatever they can to artificially boost their energy levels. That might not be a big concern with this game in particular, but something that parents should always be aware of with freemium games.

The GamerPops Recommendation

Virtual City Playground is a mixed bag, maintaining many of the good things about the original title and adding plenty of new buildings to add to your city, but the switch to energy-based gameplay sucks a lot of the life and fun potential out of the game. If you can get past the pacing issues and settle for short bits of gameplay over an extended play session, Virtual City Playground is different and free, and in spurts, can be quite fun. If you’ve ever played Cityville or SimCity, or any city-building games that fall in between, Virtual City Playground is worth the download for grown ups, with the caveat that you’ll either have to pay to play, or spent plenty of gametime not playing the game.

  • Guest1938241

    How do you move buildings? I have been stuck with this for 3 days.

    • Ejrcreations

      You can’t move buildings unless you tear it down and build another in it’s place. The game doesn’t allow you to just “move” things sadly. 

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately, I don’t think you can, unless you demolish and rebuild. I guess that makes real-world sense, but it is annoying when you’re trying to squeeze things in!

  • Geogiadimaano

    Cabt have invest points because cant post my achievements through my facebook

    • scott

       me neither!

  • Guest

    is there a way to join the sides together there is a broken bridge there but i am unable to figure out how i join it?

    • Anonymous

      You need to first purchase the land expansion that the bridge is in, then you get the option to rebuild it.

      • None

        it has no option for building the bridge…….can u tell us exactly in which menu and sub menu it is? thanks a lot

        • D Waputra

          just tap on the broken bridge

  • Clairecheong58

    I was told to build an extraction factory but it didn’t show me how. It’s so annoying! The lack of information is so annoying!

  • Abbiegunn

    I buy land but ot wont let me see alot of it. im only allowed to build on small squares 🙁

    • Abbiegunn

      Pleasr help

  • Oliver

    how to host a wedding?

  • Ashley

    My city won’t load “Recaclating New Craft City Don’t Quit The Game”
    Please Help Me It Won’t Load!!!

  • diegooo

    ho scaricato virtual city playground sono circa un mese che ci gioco e compro tramite itunes e ora mi si e’ bruciata tutta la città….. non mi fa fare nulla xche dice che non crediti sufficienti i quali superano i 2 miliardi come devo fare?????

    Grazie

  • L Dorsey04

    I keep trying to repair my trucks and build stuff and it keeps telling me I dont have enough City Credits when I have 248,484,947,843 so what is the issue that I cant do anything??

  • Randomwarrior9

    How do you build bridges?

  • Sesheng Xiao

    I have problems completing the goal of “route 3 buses to the Theater”. I have tried many many times but it just does not respond.
    p.s. I am at level 25 and there is no other goals given to me.

    • halestoneee

      me too! please email me if you work this out 🙂
      [email protected]:disqus.com
      ive tried everything and nothing works

  • mandr

    Same as Sesheng Xiao here

  • RonMexico

    This game is pretty boring.  There’s no real strategy to it.  Some new goals pop up on the side menu telling you to build this, upgrade that or route a truck/dumpster/bus from here to there.  So you do as you’re told and then there’s a new list of stuff to do.  That’s is.  Imagine putting a 1000 piece puzzle together but you’ve got someone telling you when to use specific pieces.  Then imagine if that person only gave you a few pieces per day and said that if you want more pieces you have to pay for them.  I don’t know about you, but I’d punch that person in face and take my puzzle pieces.  

    I guess this game is good for a 5 minute time kill here and there, but anyone who actually spends money on the in-app purchases is an absolute schmuck.    

  • Vanessa

    Hello,
    I’ve downloaded this game on my tablet.
    Everything was working just fine. Untill a couple of days ago. I can’t do anything anymore, because it says i don’t have enough money, but i’ve got more than 2.000.0000.000 city credits!
    Help!
    Greetz,
    Vanessa

    • me too…
      i updated the new version on mac
      but, it still stuck x_x

  • Rooeybeer

    I have bought new land and put houses on it, except it keeps saying i have not built any roads to connect them even though they are there! Any ideas?

  • X

    how do i restart my game? I missed going into it one day and now it doesn’t allow me to earn any city credits which are crucial for the game. Anyone know a way to start earning them again or restart a brand new game?

  • JAck80a9

    I got stuck with no money and trash everywhere and i want to start a new world CAN ANYONE HELP PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE!

  • Hey, so i built the airport but it didn’t finish at all !! Still with the blue blastic bags on it and i don’t know what to do to make it finish and running.. Can anyone tell me what to do please 🙁

    • Lulu

      You need to transport 1000 glass then 1000 plastic then 1000 furniture.

  • My garage is full but I need more trucks. Can I buy another garage?

    • gamerpops

      You can upgrade your garage to hold more vehicles, but once you’ve maxed it out, that’s it. you just have to get creative with your routing and maximizing what you are using your trucks for!

  • cjh

    i don’t have houses set on fire and sick , how do i complete the “neglected and infected” and “firefighter” missions?

  • I am on level 37. I did all the the missions but no new missions are coming out and there are still few buildings that need to be construced. i have almost 900,000,000 city credits.

  • tfish

    My extract and cosmetic building is showing it has 2 trucks, but it has been like that for 3 days, not producing anything? What do I do

    • Patti Dee

      It. Is stuck. I just delete it and make a new one. Where ever the memory bit is might not have room so it could be your graphics.

  • Luis

    i have problems with the road, there’s roads but it keeps saying there’s no road so i can’t assign trucks to the destinations. help pls is there a solution to fix this bugs? thanks

    • kaia

      Thats whats happening to me right now! Did u ever figure it out?

    • TorvaGaming

      Make a new Road path Make it strighter

    • Patti Dee

      Try placing some then delete it, then add road. Also, look for a lost vehicle around the buildings sometimes they hide under and not visible. Just move other stuff. If not then that spot is not open for gaming.

  • Mattie

    I am Level 25 and the game has some serious lag!! suggestions??

  • ang77

    I open the game and it says hell in a hand basket now what everything is frozen

  • Johññy Waffer

    Icant post on facebook bcoz it says pop up window is small enlarge it to continue . but i cant find any option to enlarge it . im playing in windows 8 can you help guys ?

  • Glenda

    I was trying to delete a house and the game thought I wanted to delete
    my club (night club) and I don’t know how to replace my club…help! (played on mac)

  • Patti Dee

    Great game but I need another garage. I have 4 stores that need merchandise. LOL. I am addicted, also a former store manager. ?

  • robert whyte

    just updated my mac and now the graphics on the game are rubbish. shame!

Reviews

Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of GamerPops, Greg Picken is a husband and father of two, and lover of all things play.

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