The App Store’s ability to update applications can be great for developers–it lets them start with an imperfect product and then polish away according to user feedback, effectively getting the whole community in on the development process. However, the key word here is “imperfect,” not “missing.” You can’t just upload an obviously half-finished game, charge users $1.99, and expect them to be patient with you. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what TouchSoft Mobile has done with Urban Tycoon.
Urban Tycoon is supposed to be a turn-based SimCity-like city planning game where you construct and destroy buildings, set economic and social policies, and ultimately watch your burg thrive. In reality, it’s a one-dimensional facade with no gameplay behind it whatsoever. Yes, there’s a menu of buildings to choose from, and yes, you can set the tax rate, but that’s the extent of your mayoral responsibilities. It doesn’t matter which structures you choose or where you place them. You will make money and grow your population in almost any case. If you simply reinvest all of your money in the most expensive structures you can buy every turn, you’ll soon be clearing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Problems like crime, pollution, and traffic congestion are swept right under the rug, and we couldn’t find any objectives, either. Governing has never been easier, or less fun.
We like where Urban Tycoon is coming from in terms of presentation–it uses a bright color palette, and the music is boisterous–but we paid for a game, not a proof of concept. The developer claims on its board to be working hard on improvements and fixes; we think that’s great, but until the developer actually comes through, this game is just another ripoff. Open betas are supposed to be free, guys.