It may seem to be wildly optimistic to re-create a highly detailed, PC screen-filling game on a small, portable device, but EA pulls it off. Just.
You can start with either a blank canvas and create the city from scratch, or take up one of two conurbations that are already up and running. It makes sense to check out the tutorial first, because the icons can be anonymous and everything is controlled via them. The first step is creating zones, rather than actual houses, shops and factories. To paraphrase Field Of Dreams, if you zone it, they will come. But it has to be nice, and that means electricity and water supplies, architectural attractions, parks. This isn’t Pyongyang or a Polish slum; you can’t make people live in a dismal, polluted landscape full of high-rises. You can set the housing density per zone, though, to maximise revenue, as indeed this is the grease that keeps the wheels of SimCity life rolling.
When moving around the screen, the content disappears, showing just the zones, which speeds it up. Tapping or pinching zooms in, but as the city gets bigger, it isn’t that responsive. Also, placing buildings or zoning, is manageable on the small screen, but only just. There are overlays to show problem areas, so you’ll spend time zooming in to fix problems or develop areas, and out to check over everything. If your eyesight isn’t great, this isn’t the game for you. There’s definitely that old SimCity pleasure to be had in creating a thriving metropolis, and the inhabitants do have to be kept happy within in it, although at times it can get laborious. If you aren’t a fan then this version won’t convince, otherwise dive in and get those slums built.
Fun Factor: 7.6
Value For Money: 7.8
Kung Fu Verdict: 8.0