Let's size up each iPhone game based on three criteria. First, we'll see how well each game serves the mobile lifestyle--or how quickly (and how often) you can get things done in each game. Second, let's measure each game's faithfulness to their original web counterparts. And last but most certainly not least, both games' multi-player offerings will be put to the test. Ready ... Fight!
In CityVille Hometown, Zynga minded how mobile gamers operate extremely well. There are crops that ripen every 30 seconds, so players can supply their businesses in less than a minute. Most buildings can be built with just a few presses, and the game loads and runs without a hitch. And thanks to an intuitive interface, getting to what you need in the Market is a cinch. While you can leave the game feeling accomplished in just minutes, just minutes is all you'll ever get in this game without adding a massive amount of friends or paying up in City Cash. Yes, the dastardly Energy system is present as well (enough said).
Zynga Mobile obviously didn't want to create the same exact game in CityVille Hometown, but it came pretty dang close. Much of the artwork and assets are ripped straight from the web version of the game, but re-drawn in fancy Retina Display graphics. And while the gameplay is heavily similar to the original, there are some glaring differences. Namely, the game is largely focused on filling every house you create with a new character, and using those characters to fill your businesses with staff. Sure, this creates a major disparity between the two games, but it also brings balance to, well, a game that once had little to none.
Multi-player in CityVille Hometown is, frankly, brief. At least for now until Zynga comes around with that promised Trains update that will allow players to visit one another. At the moment, all players can do with their friends through the mobile game is send and receive gifts and community building help. However, this can be done across friends from both versions of the game, thanks to Facebook Connect. Still, it would be nice to be reminded that your friends are still breathing with neighborly visits. (Not to mention the much-needed Energy bonuses.)
Both CityVille Hometown and City of Wonder offer living, breathing cities inside your 4-inch iPhone. While the former is laser-focused on a small town of citizens each with a name and purpose, the ladder is much more concerned with expansion, exploration and making yourself known among a community. Both games are absolutely must-haves for iPhone, but City of Wonder reigns victorious with its sprawling multi-player features and the sense of creating an empire it evokes. But enough about what we think, let's hear which game you think is the victor.
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