Miracle City Online is yet another by-the-numbers city builder, though it's well-suited to Android
Miracle City Online is one of many attempts at bringing city-building games to Android, even though we're wall past the glory days of the city-builder boom when it comes to mobile social gaming. Miracle City Online is nothing special as far as Android city-building sims go: it's completely playable, with a solid interface and a satisfying series of missions to complete. If you're already invested in another Android city-builder or already burnt out on this genre of social game, there's not much for you here. If you've got a precocious kid who likes to build or just want to give a city-builder a spin, though, this isn't a bad one to pick.
There's no sort of attempt at plot or backstory in Miracle City Online. You begin with an empty plot of land and begin dropping houses, farms, and decorations onto it. You earn money by collecting taxes on buildings and (presumably) selling the crops you grow. Unlike many other city-builders which mandate a certain balance of development to agriculture, in Miracle City Online there's more room to just build whatever you want. The game's missions generally just ask you to build a handful of a certain type of building, leaving you with plenty of room to develop as you see fit.
At the heart of Miracle City Online is a very simple touchscreen-based interface. You tap on menu items to bring up the appropriate sub-menus and then use your finger to position buildings and plots of land. Miracle City Online uses a tile-based map system with 2D visuals. On a small handset like the HTC Incredible used to test the game, getting smaller buildings positioned just where you want them can feel a bit tricky. Positioning is never finicky enough to feel frustrating, but you may find yourself making heavy use of the feature that lets you automatically position rows of similar buildings or farm plots next to each other.
The social features in Miracle City Online are built around quickly befriending random players of a similar level, rather than necessarily making you play with users drawn from your real-life or online social graphs. This means that missions that require you to make friends, send gifts, or help someone out don't become speed bumps in Miracle City Online the way they easily can be in Facebook social games. This does also make the social aspect of Miracle City Online a bit less engaging, since it's just hard to invest in what random people are doing with their games.
Miracle City Online is certainly fun and easy on a phone's battery, making it a fun casual diversion for those spare five minutes when you're waiting on your coffee order or hanging around in a slow-moving line. It's not an engrossing game, and it’s fairly easy to forget about, in part because it's so generic. You don't really build anything special in Miracle City Online, nor do much of anything you can't do in about a thousand other games. Of course, on Android, many of these games are going to be much more poorly-implemented than Miracle City Online.
- Gameplay is simple and intuitive. Social features are well-implemented and don't serve to slow play excessively. You aren't starved for money or other resources. Missions give players good direction and sense of accomplishment.
- Some aspects of the interface are counter-intuitive. Touch-based controls can be finicky on handsets with smaller screens. Game has no real theme. Gameplay can be a bit bland.