While licensed city builders like The Simpsons Tapped Out do big business, original titles like Game Insight's My Country series have their own loyal audience as well.
The new game will allow players to grow and manage a thriving city from a bird's eye view all the way down to street level, interacting with individual citizens and looking after their needs. With a versatile new graphic engine and a host of new features and improvements, My Country 3D aims to please both existing fans as well as players who crave true simulation games. We've played an early build and come away impressed. Read on for our detailed preview with exclusive screenshots!
Left to right: Eli Hodapp from Touch Arcade, Natalie Edgar from Complex, Paul Acevedo from Mobile Nations, Harry Slater from Pocket Gamer, Jim Squires from Gamezebo, Adam Hammer from Complex, and Anatoly Ropotov of Game Insight in front
Previewing My Country 3D
Game Insight recently invited a selection of mobile gaming journalists to its Innowate studio in Riga, Latvia to check out the publisher's upcoming lineup of titles. These included turn-based strategy game X-Mercs (which I look forward to telling you about very soon), the latest update to cross-platform raiding game Cloud Raiders, an unannounced strategy game, and Game Insight's new flagship title My Country 3D.
My Country 3D's big innovation is what Game Insight calls "genre-defining skyline-to-street level gameplay." Players can still utilize the traditional zoomed-out isometric view to get a good look at their personal metropolises. Even at a distance, My Country 3D improves the experience by offering full control of camera angles. Tilt the camera down and you'll get a great view of your buildings and skyscrapers. Use the built-in photo mode to capture dramatic vistas and more.
The real fun comes from zooming in to street level. Suddenly you can watch adorably rendered citizens going about their daily lives: driving cars, visiting parks, buying food, going to work, and more. These individuals all have moods and needs. If you see an unhappy pedestrian, tap and drag her to a location that will cheer her up. Or just pick up and drop people in silly places, because why not?
Bringing the city to life
My Country 3D begins with players meeting two important characters: the mayor and city manager. They'll guide you through the basics of constructing buildings, caring for your citizens, and completing quests. One quest involves restoring an abandoned town on the outskirts of your city and absorbing it into the metropolis. As you complete these quests, you'll level up – accompanied by a festively animated celebration at city hall (building pictured above).
As with previous My Country games, new buildings still require money, energy, and materials to build. Players will earn these materials by interacting with various businesses and buildings throughout the city. This process is much more interesting to watch than in previous games, however…
We selected a pizza restaurant while zoomed in and were greeted with a cute animation in which a customer orders a pizza. After the customer gets his pizza, the cashier tosses whatever items the player earned to the customer. And when you spend those items to create a new building, you'll toss them to the city manager who begins construction. Finally, a ribbon cutting ceremony signifies the building's completion.
New animations and close up views make My Country 3D feel more vibrant and alive, while a variety of simulation elements add realism to the experience. The day and night cycle does more than just change the lighting effects. It also affects populations, businesses, and quests.
Some shops open only at night or close when the sun goes down, and you might even catch thieves prowling during late hours. The game will also have seasons (inspired by Animal Crossing), though I'm not sure whether they're tied to the real-world calendar or an in-game cycle.
I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay!
Will My Country 3D be the ultimate city builder?
Like most city building games, My Country 3D will be free to play. How Game Insight balances free to play elements with the new game's expanded scope and simulation and sandbox aspects will likely determine whether My Country 3D can capture fans of games like Cities: Skylines or not. We do know that players will have a limited number of builders, with the option of purchasing more in order to build more things simultaneously.
My other wish for the game is greater racial diversity in the city's population. While the developer is located in an area made up almost entirely of white people, the racial mix is much different in the US and other countries. My Country 3D is still a few months away from release, so hopefully Game Insight will work in some diversity before launch.
Paul Acevedo visits a cell phone store
My Country 3D will launch on iOS, where it takes advantage of the graphical capabilities of the Metal Framework. But the game is built on the multiplatform Unity engine, so don't be surprised if it ends up on Windows 10 and Android someday. Game Insight plans to release My Country 3D by the end of the year.