The wait is over — SimCity, EA’s hit city-building franchise, has been released for the iPhone and iPod touch. Since for many of you, that’s all you need to hear, I’ll just say that it’s $9.99 and you can download it here. But be warned, there are some bugs.
For those interested in how the game runs and plays, I’ll continue. First of all, the use of the iPhone’s touchscreen for building city zones is brilliant. You simply drag your finger over the area you wish to build on and then hit the check mark to confirm it. You can also scroll around your map when not building using your finger, and the iPhone wisely turns the laid buildings into zones so it works more smoothly (you can see an example of this in the video at the bottom of the post). Double-tapping the screen zooms in.
The game has many of the SimCity staples you’d expect. You can customize your terrain before you start a city (though it’s limited to using the water and tree sliders, you can’t actually use tools to place water wherever you want). You can see financial charts and get advisor opinions on what you should do next. There are city ordinances you can enact, and you can earn special buildings based on your performance.
And yes, there are disasters.
When we previewed the game last month, EA said it was working hard to iron out some of the bugs and lag I was experiencing while playing the demo version of the game. While some of those issues have been fixed — the game runs fairly snappy now when loaded — I’m experiencing the game crashing and a slow down in actions like zooming. From the early reviews I’m seeing on SimCity’s App Store page, I’m not alone in experiencing this.
And unfortunately, loading even the more bare-bones previously-saved city takes a long time (I’m talking minutes). Maybe for some that will just add to the nostalgic experience — I remember this was an issue on my old PC back in the day as well. For others, it’ll be annoying.
Despite these issues, when you get it up and running, SimCity is a very impressive game on the iPhone. It translates the experience, specifically the SimCity 3000 experience, well onto a mobile device. Expect EA to release patches for the bug and hopefully improve the games load time issues.