Global warming had been the most dominant theme in the media for a long time, until the banking crisis stole the show. Plan It Green, another addition to the lately prospering resource management genre, sets the record straight by enabling the player to rebuild all the districts of Greenville, a city suffering from heavy pollution, in an eco-friendly, yet profitable way. Do you have what it takes to put the "green" back into Greenville?
As the new Mayor of Greenville you promised to make the city cleaner, healthier and more prosperous. Supported by your lifelong friend, city manager Alicia Green, you will visit eight different districts such as the suburbs, an industrial area or an urban neighborhood in the course of the game. Each district looks totally rundown and polluted in the beginning, but hopefully by the time you’re finished with your renewal they’ll look like a green paradise.
Your main task is to construct various buildings in four different categories, namely residential, commercial, recreation and facilities. The residential and commercial buildings provide you with daily taxes and energy credits, depending on their type and already applied upgrades. Those energy credits are the third resource in this game beside money and materials. In fact, you can only sell them for money, which means that you are actually changing those credits for money, and the money for materials again and again. Nevertheless it’s an interesting twist which complicates the pace of Plan it Green.
Simply judging by what buildings you can construct, it’s obvious that the developers put a lot of thought into this game. There are Zero Energy Homes, which don’t need to be upgraded at all due to their perfection, Co-Op Markets, Parks and more than a dozen of other buildings. Even more interesting is the fact that there are also old and inefficient buildings that, by applying the mysterious "go-green" upgrade, become environmentally friendly, too.
The graphics definitely hold their own against similar casual offerings. The buildings and surroundings are very detailed and polished, and every upgrade you add is instantly visible. Simply watching the smooth and cute animations of driving cars on the streets and citizens working in the garden is more entertaining than actually playing some of the weaker games in the genre. After finishing a level successfully you can really see how the district suddenly gets greener, while the formerly heavy smog gradually vanishes.
The upgrades are very diverse and fit perfectly into the ecology-minded setting. You can apply fancy additions like Eco Gardens, Thermal Insulation Paint, Solar Panels or Wind Turbines. Other upgrades, like the Bike-to-Work, require so-called District upgrades, such as creating Bike Paths throughout the whole district. Other District upgrades, such as Speed Bumps and Charging Stations, do not unlock any new building upgrades, but they also change the appearance of the district and raise district happiness as well as environmental health.
Both of these factors are very important for your general performance. Every change you apply to a certain district automatically increases both environmental health and district happiness, but the key is to apply the appropriate changes at the right time. The goals you have to fulfill include raising a certain amount of daily taxes, researching new buildings or applying upgrades to certain buildings.
Since it is not possible to buy and sell houses, it is not important to save large amounts of money. The slogan is "Spend, spend, spend" to improve Greenville as quick as possible. Forty-five levels and a surprisingly funny free mode (“surprisingly” because in most games the free mode is rather lame and remains unplayed) ensure a sufficient length of enjoyable gameplay.
A remarkable aspect of Plan it Green is the absolutely well-balanced difficulty. In contrast to other games, where the first half of the game is rather slow and much too easy, while the second half may become frustratingly hard, Plan it Green establishes a really quick pace from the beginning onward, with every fifth level offering a breather. Though most of the goals require similar actions and the possible ways to beat the levels are very, very limited, no level feels exactly the same, especially thanks to the great variety of features and the perpetual change of the buildings’ appearance.
It might sound a bit odd, but Plan it Green is a great way to forget real environmental problems for a few hours by solving them virtually. No matter how much you are interested in ecological issues, this game is definitely one of the strongest entry into the resource management genre since its original pioneer, Build-A-Lot.