Virtual City was an excellent city management simulation for on-the-go players that managed to go head to head with the juggernauts of the genre like SimCity. It was a good-looking, easy-to-get-into gem that offered intuitive controls, a solid tutorial, and interesting gameplay and goals. The sequel doesn’t vary from that winning strategy much, but instead broadens the horizons just a bit by focusing largely on a vacation theme.
Virtual City 2 should be instantly playable to anyone who spent time perfecting the art of city management in the first game. It looks almost identical as well, which isn’t a bad thing. The game is still sharp and colorful, with remarkably detailed little touches. That said, the pseudo-3D graphics could use some punch to true 3D to allow for camera options like rotating and zooming your view. It’s a minor thing, but there are definitely times when adjusting the view would be helpful.
Life in the frozen tundra.
Beyond that, the game’s objectives are largely the same as before. As the new city planner (or mayor), it’s up to you to get shipping routes flowing, make business boom by keeping the laws of supply and demand met, and make both the citizens and tourists happy. Virtual City 2 contains plenty of content to challenge budding city managers.
The game’s 50 missions are spread out over five distinct settings in Colorado, California, Michigan, Montana, and New York. We wouldn’t have minded some more exotic locales, but the home grown feel of the cities is quaintly appealing. There are 18 mission types, which tend to be variations between keeping shipping lanes going and appeasing the population.
As before, you can set up factories of industry, hotels, entertainment and shopping hot spots and other necessities of urban living, but there’s a cost to everything. Industry creates pollution, for instance, and no one wants to live in a polluted city. So spending money to upgrade factories to be cleaner is important.
Take me down to the paradise city.
Instead of dealing with traffic, these cities also rely on public transportation to cart citizens around. Whether it’s determining trucking or bus routes, you’ll spend plenty of time mapping things out. Route creation is simple– just tap on the route function of a vehicle, then on the buildings you want it to stop at.
If you tell a truck to go to the granary and then the bakery, for instance, it will automatically pick up flour and take it to the baker. All the controls are simple taps, and while the game can be complex, the helpful tutorial at the start easily gets players up to speed. Finally, the game also thankfully includes several sandbox modes that let you just build and manage a city free of mission objectives.
There are some odd issues with the controls and interface, however. We found it particularly hard to tap on specific buildings at times (especially small houses), even on the larger iPad screen. Also, the game doesn’t immediately show the cost for upgrades when tapping on an object. Instead, you have to tap again to go into a deeper menu.
Overall, Virtual City 2 might not offer any revolutionary changes over the original, but it’s a solidly entertaining city sim. We’d prefer more innovation in the presentation and more exotic and expansive locations, but in the meantime, this is a well-rounded sequel.