First Look: CityVille

Social gaming juggernaut Zynga has finally flipped the switch on their long-awaited town building title: CityVille! Is the game destined to become a mega-hit like nearly every other Zynga title, or is it merely a re-hash of the town building concepts others games have introduced? Social Game Central is here to give you the full scoop.

The first thing we noticed about CityVille is that despite being a town-building title along the lines of My Town, Social City, and Millionaire City (among others), the game actually has more in common with Zynga’s own FrontierVille than any of their competitor’s titles. Players have an energy bar that refills over time, and must spend this energy to complete most in-game tasks, including constructing buildings, chopping down wild trees, and supplying businesses with raw goods.

Also like FrontierVille, gamers are guided through the game by a lengthy series of missions. Some are quite simple (Harvest Four Carrots), while others require more preparation and more help from neighbors.

Although CityVille is still quite easy to pick up and play, the game is probably the most complex Zynga has ever made – to progress, players will need to keep track of all aspects of their city’s health. The bulk of CityVille’s gameplay revolves around smoothly managing a chain of supplies. All elements are interconnected. For example, to raise their city’s population, players will need to have enough money to build homes. Players earn money via their town’s businesses. These businesses only produce money if they are supplied with raw goods, which are collected from farms.

It is certainly more complex than FarmVille or FrontierVille, but it never feels overwhelming. Players produce goods via farming plots, turn those goods into cash via businesses, and spend that cash on homes, decorations, and everything else they need for their cities to thrive.

CityVille’s social element is a major departure from other social games, including Zynga’s own. Rather than lean on news feed posts, CityVille instead has players reaching out to their social graph on a one on one basis, asking individual friends for help via notifications. Players need 7 employees to staff their police department, for example. Rather than making a news feed post asking for employees, players can instead bulk send notifications asking for help to up to 60 of their friends at once. We’re still mulling over the ramifications of this major change, and will have more thoughts on it soon.

Our first impression of CityVille is positive. Like all Zynga titles, it is very polished, and already has lots of content for players to experience. We’re disappointed that the game doesn’t seem to make much effort to break new ground in the way FrontierVille did earlier this year, but we don’t think that will stop this city building title from becoming a big hit.

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