Build Your Metropolis With We City

It was more than a decade ago when I would sit in the school computer lab, building highways, managing neighborhoods and collecting taxes. It was a social gaming experience- as much as existed in its day- with a roomful of peers working on or demolishing their own cities as well.

Here we are now, in a world where computer gaming and social media have fused into recognizable names like Farm Ville and Mafia Wars. And just when online social gaming is at its height through the desktop and laptop screens around the globe, we are introduced to the iPad.

Starting a City

We City is like the social gaming equivalent of the classic Sim City. The concept is simple: Build your city, collect your money (from taxes, education, industry), expand your territory and work together with your friends while doing it!

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A basic new city

The cost for this experience is initially free. We City, along with the other ngmoco games, is provided free of charge to download and to play. This model is ideal for social gaming, because it’s just not as much fun to play alone as it is together. So you and all of your friends can be involved in the same virtual world for no upfront cost. It’s simple- spread the word and the fun multiplies!

Social Cities

Adding friends is only a few taps away. The “social” menu can be accessed in the bottom-right corner, offering to connect you instantly with your Twitter and Facebook contacts. The “plus +” menu in the top-right corner gives you even more ways to find your friends such as: your iPad contacts, Google and Yahoo contacts, or even a direct; in-app email solicitation.

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Social network integration

As you start the app for the first time, it will ask you to sign up for a Plus+ account or login to an existing one. Since I have previously played the GodFinger and We Rule apps, I just punched in my credentials and was instantly in the game. To get me started, a series of dialog boxes would greet me with messages, tips, and goals to help me get used to the game.

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We City walks you through the gameplay process

Build and Design

When it comes down to it, there are two basic actions that you can perform on your city: 1- Build, 2- Redesign. There are different categories of things that you can build to diversify your town: Buildings, Decorations, Natural Elements (trees, plants, etc..), Terrain (roads and pavement), and City Hall upgrades.

If you’re the kind of person who likes designing gardens or neighborhoods, then you’ll probably find yourself putting countless hours moving trees and quaint little houses around into your ideal virtual utopia. If you’d just rather see the cash, then factories and retail centers will most likely occupy your days.

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Constructing objects

In We City, like in life, everything has a price. You earn and spend virtual coins by collecting rent on your residential establishments, manufacturing goods with your factories, reselling goods from convenience stores, etc… More buildings and businesses become available to you as you level up with experience gained from pretty much any of your city managing tasks.

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Notifications appear over buildings

Zap it!

But beyond the bling there is the We City version of magic powers- zap. Zap can instantly finish tasks, thereby speeding up your city’s development. It can be used to build buildings without money, or finish manufacturing an item to bring you some quick cash. There are two ways to get zap: 1- level up, 2- buy it. That’s right, using the in-app purchase model, you can use your iTunes account to instantly purchase more city magic and be well on your way to the greatest virtual land ever imagined. This includes special limited-time-only buildings such as the Roman coliseum and the Eiffel Tower, which can only be built using zap.

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The We City Store

Final Thoughts

The definite draw for We City is the social aspect. Without friends to share with and build with, the game begins to lose its draw pretty quickly. There are not really any objectives or challenges that you must face, aside from time. With time, all things can be improved in your city. One nice thing about the time factor in We City is that it is based on realtime, so you don’t actually have to be in the app in order for your factories to manufacture their goods, or your houses to pay their rent. (Although if you don’t collect your newly produced items within a certain amount of time, they seem to fall in to disrepair and you have to start the manufacturing process over.)

I think that it would add a little bit more excitement if you had to deal with natural disasters such as the earthquakes and alien invasions from the old Sim City, but if that’s what you’re looking for, there is a Sim City app for iPad/iPhone.

Overall, the possibilities are vast for your city-building adventure, but you’re going to want to invite your friends to enjoy the all-important social aspect of the game. Best of all, the game is free and you can go on for some time building, designing and leveling up without having to spend any money for zap.

So, have you tried We City or any of the other ngmoco social games? What are your thoughts?


Summary

We City is a deep but simple game that allows you to construct your own thriving metropolis in a very similar manner to SimCity. Though a bit lackluster at times, We City is great when played with social media integration so you can keep up with your friends.

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