CityVille 2 review

CityVille 2 is the long-awaited follow-up to Zynga’s immensely popular CityVille, a game which popularized many of the conventions we see in other citybuilding social games today. Like the recent FarmVille 2, CityVille 2 is a complete reimagining of its predecessor, adopting a thoroughly modern 3D aesthetic and changing up its game mechanics significantly enough to make it an obviously different game rather than simply a reskinned version of the original.

In CityVille 2, players are once again cast in the role of a fledgling township’s mayor. In what would have been a genuinely surprising twist if it hadn’t already been spoiled by the media, the player’s mayoral estate is blown up shortly after the game begins. Much of the game’s overarching storyline consists of working alongside two colorful “cop” characters to investigate various local residents and uncover the mystery of who was responsible for the attack. These “investigation” quests crop up at fairly regular intervals as the player progresses through the game, but it’s not possible to “rush” through them.

Between investigations, the player is responsible for running their city and managing their resources carefully. Regular quests from characters who live in the city — including some of the “suspects” once they have been cleared — provide the player with guidance on what to do next, but it’s also possible to go off-piste and expand in a more freeform manner if desired.

Unlike the original CityVille, which relied on a supply chain of using farms to generate goods, which in turn powered businesses and generated money, CityVille 2 uses a different arrangement of systems. In order to build structures, players require various resources, including “Citizen” and “Builder” characters, who can be found in cars and trucks driving around the city streets. Building houses generates shoppers, who wander the streets and occasionally enter businesses. Once a business has served its limit of customers, the player may collect income from it. In order to encourage the city’s population to go out and spend money, the player may click on houses to send out shoppers or click on businesses to advertise for customers. The player may switch the city between day and night at will, with different resources available to collect at different times of the virtual day.

As the player expands into various new districts, each district gains experience and may eventually be assigned a “specialism” — either residential, commercial or industrial. Residential districts generate shoppers more quickly, commercial districts increase the payout from businesses and industrial sectors are quicker at crafting special items using collected resources.

Clicking on pretty much anything in CityVille causes two things to happen: firstly, a rhythm-based minigame challenges players to stop a marker within a particular area, with bigger bonuses of coins, experience and “mayoral approval” awarded for successfully completing the minigame. Secondly, a present pops out of the building that was clicked on, and “catching” this in mid-air provides a huge boost to the player’s approval rating. If the approval rating reaches its limit, the game enters “Bonus Mode,” at which point it is impossible to fail the minigame and the rewards on offer are temporarily greater. These two mechanics give the game a fun “arcadey” feel and an element of skill amid the otherwise-repetitive clicking.

There’s an impressive amount of customization and self-expression possible in CityVille. It’s possible to rename business buildings and individual districts as they’re unlocked, and these names show up when neighbors visit and click to help out. A “chat” facility also allows players to leave messages for one another on their cities, though at the time of writing it seemed a little erratic as to whether or not this actually worked.