What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Virtual City is a city-building simulation game that mixes management with construction, and includes the possibility of in-app purchases. The game features 50 missions that are loaded with goals players must meet -- sometimes within a certain time limit. Successfully finishing a level requires players to work simultaneously on several of those tasks, all the while keeping an eye on the income levels of their company. The app also offers a "sandbox" mode for players to unlock that lets them create whatever sort of city they'd like with no time limits. The danger of this mode (beyond its ability to distract you for hours) is the ability to buy additional in-game money using real world cash. One option to buy $1 million in in-game currency costs $100, though lower amounts are available. The options menu, however, does let parents disable in-app purchases. A nearly identical version of the app is available for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- following directions
- reading comprehension
- the economy
Thinking & Reasoning
- analyzing evidence
- combining knowledge
- working efficiently
- achieving goals
- time management
Engagement, Approach, Support
Budding city planners will find this app irresistable. Focuses more on resources than people. Developers have clearly taken pains to optimize the HD version for the iPad's larger screen.
Many concepts and skills will transfer nicely to the real world. Sometimes too much detail and lack of clear user impact create a feeling of disconnnect.
Extensive help text explains virtual objects, and the personal secretary guides kids through missions. Details and data can be hard to see on smaller screens. Players on iOS devices can opt in to Apple’s Game Center to track achievements.
What's it about?
A stranded motorist is informed she has inherited a trucking company. She must manage her company well to help the city thrive. Kids tap on the garage to buy trucks and determine routes. Each level includes goals like transporting pies to a neighboring city or improving the environment with a recycling plant. Kids must repair and maintain resources as well as create new ones.
Is it any good?
VIRTUAL CITY manages to take the best aspects of the Sim City franchise and strip those out for a portable gaming audience. The game is challenging, but not impossible -- and gives players the choice between playing a task-driven game or building a city in any manner they choose. The game looks great, and developers have clearly taken pains to optimize the app for the iPad's larger screen in the HD version of the app. The larger screen makes it easier to control the game, particularly when there's a lot happening at once -- but it comes at a higher cost than the phone version, which is virtually the same.
Families can talk about...
Take kids to tour a local trucking company.
Help kids plant a tree in your neighborhood.
Encourage kids to plan and budget for gift giving or personal expenses.