Mobile publisher Gamevil’s first Facebook release, developed by newcomer Lifo Interactive, is a cute and brightly colored city builder game called Train City. With a number of other games featuring trains, including Zynga’s new title CityVille, Train City hopes to attract users with a new city building experience focused on the buying and running of trains through a single city.
Altogether, Train City is an enjoyable game with cute graphics and simple mechanics. Though it lacks in depth, the numerous quests, collections, and tasks can keep players occupied and entertained for long stretches of time. And with the removal of the energy mechanic, players can play for as long as they like and achievements and quests give a constant stream of accomplishments to aim for.
Train City sets you up as mayor of a small town, in charge of growing it into a sprawling, modern metropolis. In order to do so you have to increase the population, keep the people happy, create sources of income, and manage the rail system. As in other games, you construct buildings using coins and gain access to better items and buildings as you gain levels. There is no energy mechanic, so growth is restricted by how much money you have and earn.
Building houses and other dwellings increases your town’s population, but your population can only go as high as your happiness level. Happiness is increased in Train City by building decorations like trees and playgrounds, as well as public buildings like fire stations and preschools. On top of increasing happiness, public buildings also increase the effectiveness of other buildings. For example, the hospital increases the happiness from decorations by one percent. Higher level buildings require special resources such as bricks or glass, which the player must manufacture from factories.
Houses and decorations all cost coins, which are primarily earned through commercial buildings, and your rail line. Commercial buildings, once built, generate a coins over time. Like other games using this mechanic, income is only collected when the player clicks on the building, encouraging players to check in often to get the most income possible out of their buildings. Similarly, factories can be tasked to create materials to build advanced buildings, which you must gather at the end of the production period.
Despite trains being the central theme of Train City, the train and rail system is not central to the game’s progression. Supposedly, the goal of the game is to build an extensive system of tracks, and improve both your stations and trains over time, as well as choose conductors optimal for your needs, but in the end the train system acts as just another source of income in the game, and a less forgiving one than the commercial buildings.
The locations of train tracks, like roads, has little impact on the game except that you require certain amounts of both for some quests. Train station position is similarly not accounted for, and the only purpose of train stations is to increase income. The various trains you can purchase all have stats for capacity and horsepower, but those also appear unimportant.
Your choice of conductor is the most important choice you can make, as each conductor requires an upfront hiring cost and set period of time to work in, with the rewards scaling. Essentially though, all choices you make with regard to the rail system only increase the amount of income gained, with no other impact in the game.
Like other games of this genre, Train City incorporates many social aspects, as well as options to pay for resources. Visiting your neighbor’s cities gives you tourism bonuses of either happiness or population, encouraging you to visit your neighbors on a daily basis.
You can also assist your neighbor’s commercial buildings both earning money for you and your neighbor after the proper amount of time has elapsed, after which you can assist another building. If you’ve run out of coins, you can purchase large amounts of those with real money. “TCash”, which is used to buy special buildings and trains which are more effective than their mundane counterparts, is also available for purchase.
Train City shows a lot of polish, and great art design, with all the pieces of the game fitting into a unified theme. Though some small bugs present themselves on occasion, the play experience is largely unmarred, with all aspects of gameplay being easily accessible and understood. As well put together as it is, Train City may not develop into a hit, given the light gameplay and large variety of competitors in its genres.