Cie Games, a spun-out games company from Cie Studios, has a new title out. The social developer is taking a more automotive approach to gaming with Car Town.
From cars, to avatars, to a full blown garage, Car Town is a game that gives players everything and a bag of chips to customize to their own personal aesthetic. While the game doesn’t necessarily add anything new to the table in regards to virtual spaces, the quantity and premise offers a fair substitute for originality. And the rather hefty number of social mechanics it makes for an excellent title to play with one’s friends.
Car Town’s objective is no different from other virtual space games at its core: create the best looking personal space you can. In this case, it’s a car garage of sorts. But more than just building a garage, the game is also about customizing your own collection of cars.
Virtually any guy would relish collecting cars, but few of us have the money to build a real collection. Cie grants players the next best thing, allowing users to buy and customize everything from a vintage 1960 Chevy Corvette to a 2010 Lamborghini Murcielago LP 670-4 Superveloce. Once purchased, each car can be customized with rims, body kits, paint, tires, and virtually everything else.
Not all customization elements are purely visual. Each vehicle has a performance rating, and it’s possible to increase that rating with new shocks, steering, engines, etc. In fact, this is where the first major social mechanic comes into play.
Players can actually race their friends in a sort of challenge mode which consists of an actual drag race. Instead of a traditional racing game, this race is a simple exercise in timing that uses a single mouse click to hit the accelerator and shift gears at the proper time. Between the precision of the user and the performance level of the car, the winner will be determined.
The cars themselves are a grand source of income. Beyond racing friends, players can take their car on a five minute pizza delivery jaunt (in which “excess” pizza can be delivered to friends) to earn some extra coin.
Two other social exercises that are even more interesting than the pizza deliveries. The first one is a 24 hour “job” called a road trip where players travel to any number of locations (beach, camping, Vegas, and so on). What is interesting is that players can actually pick up other friends, up to five, that play and earn extra income based on how many join the trip. Second, players can also enter a 24 hour car show where users actually vote on their favorite customized cars.
But wait, there’s more. In a more traditional virtual space/business endeavor, players are able to purchase various mechanic bays for their garage in which to perform jobs for cars that park out front. Ranging from two minutes to a day or more, players can assign workers to take care of various automotive needs; needs such as installing fuzzy dice or a jet engine, perhaps. Obviously, the longer the job takes, the more money it earns.
Workers are also the primary gating mechanism to Car Town and are directly linked to level (which also gates what you can purchase). Only so many can be had based on one’s level and every job done with a car or with a mechanic bay indisposes that worker for the duration. Also, as in other past virtual space games, players hire their real Facebook buddies to slave… err, work… for them, and as yet another means of customization, they, as well as the users’ avatar, can be customized. It’s also worth mentioning that Car Town even has functional décor such as arcade cabinets and vending machines that can also, periodically, earn the player extra income.
As far as negative aspects go, there’s not a lot to complain about. Our biggest qualm is that Car Town is yet another virtual space oriented game. Granted, there is a lot more to it, and the quantity of customizable elements is wonderful, but it does still feel like a bit more of the same.
Other complaints are minor by comparison, such as the horribly obnoxious honking when customers are waiting at the curb. We don’t like it when people do it in reality, and it’s no less unnerving here. Moreover, having the customers pull up does seem kind of pointless as the player can initiate any mechanic job from the bay itself.
Overall, Car Town is an excellent addition to the virtual space collection of games. As a virtual space game, it certainly has everything under the sun for the player to play around with, and the prospect of collecting sexy cars is always a plus for the male demographic. Wrought with as many social elements as customizable ones, it certainly feels like an apex for this style of game. At its core, however, it’s still a type of game that is now beginning to saturate the market, and while good, begs the question: What is after virtual spaces? And is it time to begin evolving past them?
[Correction: A previous version of this article said the game was made by Playdom. Cie Games currently has no direct connection to the company.