Last year we named Game Insight’s My Country as one of the best simulation games for iPhone. It basically combined a standard free-to-play city building design with that of a real city simulation. The extra depth really helped My Country stand above other city builders.
This year, Game Insight followed up with a sequel called 2020: My Country. The new game starts out quite a lot like the old one, but before long players will encounter science-fiction elements like flying cars, teleporters, and aliens. 2020: My Country initially debuted as an iPad-specific game, but the publisher recently released it for iPhone and Mac OS X as well.
After launching the game, players are thrust directly into a tutorial - no title screens here. You begin with a small section of city to call your own. The player’s first order of business is to construct an office building. Everything takes real-time to build, but spending a little energy causes tasks to finish instantly. You shouldn’t run out of energy during the tutorial phase, so just hurry things along.
Once you've erected the building, you’ll need to hire an entrepreneur to run the place. But you can’t just hire a building manager outright. First you’ll need to collect a handful of resources that the professional will need – in this case, a cell phone, briefcase, and folder. To get these and other items, just hop over to one of your other buildings and complete a task. Materials randomly drop after finishing these short tasks, so you might need to repeat the process a few times until you get the goods.
Having hired a professional to run the building, players can then select contracts for the business to work on. Initially you’ll have only one contract duration to choose from, but raising a business’s star rating will unlock longer and higher paying contracts. Whenever the contract wraps up, collect the money it produces and start a new one.
Other types of edifices such as residential buildings just produce money on their own schedules with no need to choose a contract. After reaching level 6 (the end of the tutorial), players can perform short tasks at any building at any time in hopes of finding materials – or just to earn extra money. Collecting money from any building also causes a VTOL aircraft to come along and drop XP and more money for the picking.
Perform a building’s tasks enough times to raise the place’s star rating and earn a free spin at the upgrade wheel. Depending on where the wheel lands, players can win upgrades to the location’s money production or environmental rating, and even free money, energy, and premium game dollars. Or you might get unlucky and not win anything. The wheel minigame provides a fun little reward for leveling up a town’s buildings.
Like other city builder games, players always have one or more missions to work on. Some involve erecting new businesses or houses, while others might have you purchase upgrades for buildings or clear out space for future developments. Standard stuff, but cute animations like people rushing to a store or celebrating with fireworks instill more personality than you might expect. Events like UFO crashes, fires, and floods also keep things lively while giving players more things to do.
Let’s face it. There is no point in pouring countless hours of your life into a city building game unless your friends can see what you’ve built. Luckily 2020 does not disappoint in that all-important area. The game allows you to build a friends list from both Game Insight’s servers and Facebook.
I believe that makes the social features platform agnostic, so Apple, Android, and Windows players should all be able to interact with each other. The only catch is they actually have to accept your invites before you can visit them. Speaking of which, why not send me a friend request? My username is EastX.
Upon visiting a friend’s country and remarking at how much nicer yours is than hers, you can also interact with your friend’s buildings. Each time you select one, both you and your friend will gain money or XP for your trouble. You’ll also get social points, which contribute towards unlocking unique goodies for your town.
Finally, players can send one gift per day to each of their friends. Daily gifts include materials and even professional workers, all of which are quite handy. Get a few friends to play and you’ll have an easier time of things.
2020 gives players so many things to do and systems to manage that it can get confusing at times, especially early on. You’ll go several levels before learning what some of the currencies and stats do. The function of the electricity and ecology stats in particular was a mystery until I discovered that some buildings require sufficient power or greenery in order to be constructed.
On the other hand, the game does have a few graphical options that will allow players to cut down on the visual stimulation a bit. You can adjust the pedestrian density from high to low to off, and even turn buildings completely off. Doing the latter will replace buildings with colored panels, which can also be handy just for taking stock of your country or cutting down on clutter. These options should also help 2020 run better on older iDevices.
The currency and In-App Purchase (IAP) systems can add to player confusion as well. 2020 has too many currencies going on for its own good: game dollars, country bucks, gold coins, reputation, and energy. Country bucks are the main premium currency; you can buy game dollars, gold coins, and energy with them. You can earn country bucks through gameplay, but they’re hard to come by.
Most processes in the game require energy to perform, whether it’s the actions that buildings offer, constructing a business, or speeding up a process’s completion time. The energy mechanic doesn’t annoy too greatly except for when you’re trying to earn a rare material from a building.
You might have to perform a building’s action ten or more times to find the part you need, which can easily drain more energy than your meter holds. In those instances, it might be tempting to just buy the rare item with country bucks.
Will the future be brighter in the year 2020? The latest My Country game seems to think so. A world with flying cars, friendly aliens, and donut shops doesn’t seem so bad. Not everybody cares for futuristic stuff though, so the game cleverly spreads them out as you play through the game. By the time you realize 0actually happens in the future, you’re already hooked.
2020: My Country stands out from the crowd by offering a more fully-developed simulation than typical mobile games. It also packs a ton of content, with numerous missions, buildings, and ways to interact with those buildings. Like other free to play city builders, you’ll need to be able to stomach the time mechanics in order to enjoy this one past the tutorial phase. If you enjoy the genre, perhaps this one will keep you busy through the real year 2020 – or at least until another sequel comes along.