Yesterday on our list of fastest-growing games by daily active users, a new, high production value Facebook title popped up called Crime City. Set with the same theme as Facebook’s various mafia games, the new title appears to be by a San Francisco developer called Funzio, and has quickly grown to over 325,000 monthly active users.
Crime City takes players into a hybridization of RPG, city building, and classic console concepts as they wreak havoc through the city streets. Stylishly presented, it’s an app that is surprisingly well done for being so under the radar. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect as it does suffer from frequent, social “reminders.”
Players take on the role of your common, everyday thug out to make a name for themselves. In order to do so, users follow the typical Mafia Wars steps of doing jobs to build up that reputation, earn cash, and grow stronger. The big difference is that this game is not a text-based RPG. On the contrary, it’s actually an isometric world that players walk about and physically interact with.
Of course, “interact” is a term used somewhat loosely, as doing jobs consists of clicking on buildings and non-player characters while the player’s avatar performs some animation. Usually this involves, shooting, beating, or hitting something. Regardless, no actual skill is involved; it’s essentially Mafia Wars with graphics. Once a job is performed bits of cash, experience, and other random items pop out FrontierVille-style. As the user grows in level, more demanding jobs begin to appear (some of which must be done multiple times).
The game is driven by a quest system that tasks the player to travel to different parts of the city and perform specific jobs in order to grow their mafia. Such jobs include robbing stores, performing hits, extorting businesses, and just about every other crime one can think of. In order to do them, however, specific items are required, and as the buildings and victims become more protective or “higher level,” for lack of a better term, more powerful equipment is needed.
This becomes the basis of a simple story, but in truth, the narrative is rather shallow. Granted, it’s a Facebook game, so award winning plots are hardly expected. Despite this minor complaint, the whole of Crime City is of high quality, and there’s far more to do than just these jobs.
A whole other aspect of the game comes in with city building features, used to build up the player’s “hood.” This isn’t the kind of complex city building that requires a happy population and other political calculations, but players are able to construct various structures to earn supplemental income and decorate their virtual space as they see fit. After a period of time, structures will pay out a sum of money, and can be upgraded to pay more. Additionally, some structures are needed to produce building materials, such as steel, which is a requirement to building most everything beyond decorations. Some equipment, such as cars, also require certain structures to acquire. In this case, a parking garage would be needed.
The city building mechanic is also a catalyst for some social mechanics. Like many games in the genre, special buildings require the help of friends to complete. Producing special items (e.g. energy instead of money), these structures, such as the Coffee Shop, require friends to send the user specific gifts by clicking on a wall posting link, as well as requiring the user to perform a certain action, such as gifting a friend.
The social elements don’t end there. Aside from joining other players’ mafias to increase collective strength, players can visit not only friends’ virtual spaces, but opponents’ as well. This is a feature deserving of praise as typically, players compete with one another by just clicking “attack” and having a random, text-based outcome. Here, while the result is the same, users actually visit that player’s hood, and can physically rob all the stores as well as attack the player’s avatar itself.
These aggressive actions can earn a tertiary currency called “Respect Points.” Thus far, however, we’ve haven’t seen what these points are used for. Another in-game virtual currency, called “Diamonds,” is earned by doing jobs in the various missions, and used to purchase more expensive equipment (such as cars).
Also on the social menu is the concept of posting achievements where one “shares” earnings. Yes, this is done a lot, but the difference here is that players receive the opportunity to not only share coin, but Respect Points, Diamonds, and even experience.
Our only other, minor, complaint about Crime City is that the game frequently “reminds” the player of inviting friends to join their mafia. This isn’t a huge deal, but the frequency can become annoying.
Overall, Crime City is a surprising improvement on the mafia-style RPG, and its incorporation of city building mechanics adds a good deal of play to the game without feeling tacked on. Granted, the core is the same as any other mafia RPG, but the presentation both more rewarding stylish.