Although it would be great to actually design your own urban sprawl, town planning is actually a little more complex than Zynga and the rest of the social gaming industry would have us believe. If it wasn’t, every coffee shop would look exactly the same.
Oh, wait. It does.
Millionaire City is a city-building game along the same lines as the average Facebook offering. It fits that niche perfectly on the Xperia Play, even if it does eventually become a little tired.
Where we’re going, we need roads
After a brief tutorial, you set out to rake in cash by building a city full of bungalows, townhouses, high-rises, restaurants, banks, florists, and so on. To build something, you first clear a plot of land, pop your foundations down, and then make sure the road is connected. It’s all very straightforward. You also get the chance to build ‘wonders’ such as a pyramid, presumably so that you can be as respected as great civilisations like Egypt and Las Vegas. The premise is simple. So simple, in fact, that Millionaire City feels like a dumbed-down Kairosoft title at times.
A touch simpler
Of course, in Kairosoft's Story games you get to see the people you're ripping off wander around as they go about their robotic consumerist lives. In Millionaire City, the money generated is simplified to the extreme. Most of it comes from the invisible tenants you rent out the houses or apartment blocks to. Collecting the rent is just a matter of waiting until a wad of cash appears over the building and then tapping on it. The alternative is to use the Xperia Play’s controls. Although these do work, with the D-pad acting as a cursor and the X button as selector, using them feels cumbersome. The game is built for the immediacy of touchscreen, and using the D-pad is a bit like using the touchpad on a laptop when you’ve already got a mouse hooked up. You'll quickly abandon the buttons.
Cash yourself on
The feature most familiar to ‘social game’ players will be the timing system. Time ticks over while rent and other income is generated, even while the app is closed, so you have to check in and collect it at regular intervals in a similar way to harvesting crops in FarmVille. If you don’t collect the rent, your tenants will blow all the money on a big bash. It’s not unusual to come back to the game after a few hours only to find the entire neighbourhood throwing a street party. The only course of action available when this happens is to evict them all and get new tenants, just like humourless landlords in real life. However, there are several types of tenants each taking their own amount of time – anywhere from three minutes to several hours – to generate different income. In this way, you can roughly control the time at which you come back to the game to collect money. The truly ‘social’ aspect of the game is a little underwhelming. You can connect to Facebook and share your achievements by posting them on your wall, or you can invite friends to play and give them jobs as managers. Millionaire City is built on half-decent foundations, but it loses its appeal as soon as you realise you’re just harvesting rent in an endless cycle. For compulsive fans of the social gaming genre, it may be worth a look, but the game itself is less than stellar and the Xperia Play controls add nothing.