Even though it brings a few new ideas, the future of 2020: My Country is still a pretty bland place.
Don’t ask me what the world is going to look like in 2020, because I was one of those kids who was certain we’d have flying cars by now. While we wait to find out, you can shape you own version of the near future by playing 2020: My Country.As a sequel tothe Facebook city builder My Country,this one goes mobile with some new ideas – but ultimately, not enough of them.
By now, most gamers don’t need much of a guide to know what a city builder is, and 2020: My Country takes advantage of this fact by gleefully glossing over some of the details in its introduction and tutorial. You’re tasked with rebuilding an island nation at the start of the next decade (I know, I know, technically the end of this one), but the story behind what you’re doing is minimal, and then it’s quickly on to dropping some buildings.
The operative word here is “dropping,” since the game gives you shockingly little control over where to place new structures. It seems to simply place things in the nearest possible, suitable space as soon as you tap on the command to build. And while you can move things around, it would be much nicer if you could just have everything where you want it from the get-go.
In any case, the core of the gameplay is similar to many games in the long lineage of city builders. Residences produce coins and experience points on regular intervals, collected by a cool-looking but annoying-sounding VTOL craft of some sort. Businesses and civic buildings like police stations and post offices work using contracts, where you can (eventually) choose to spend more coins and wait longer periods of time for correspondingly bigger rewards.
To finish off most buildings, you need to hire a suitable professional: a police officer for the station, a chef for a restaurant, and so on. Pleasantly, this doesn’t involve bothering your social network friends to hire as staff, like in plenty of other builders. It does, however, mean scrounging through your other buildings to find three items to be able to hire said professional.
That’s great since it gives you something else to do. What isn’t so great is that it takes lots of energy to hunt for items. In fact, the abuse of the energy mechanic is one of the really depressing parts of 2020: My Country. The mundane actions like collecting from buildings cost no energy, but the more important ones like finding items and fixing disasters – everything like simple plumbing leaks to alien invasions – use up your energy so fast that it can easily kill off your play session in about 30 seconds.
Advancement is also an issue. Coin and XP rewards are so small from doing everyday tasks that you are mostly forced to play through the quests. The problem there is that the quests often require you to build expensive buildings, trapping you in the worst kind of feedback loop. Hard currency can speed things up, and the game deserves credit for allowing you to earn it as you play, but it’s not enough to smooth over all the warts.
Some of the other interesting concepts also get short thrift. Your nation of the near future is clearly green since there’s a big wind-powered contraption that helps power it. Building upgrades include solar panels and other things to both beautify and stay eco-friendly, but too often these come out of necessity through the quests rather than from your own planning. There’s also a system by which each building can become more efficient in terms of energy use, yet it isn’t explained well at all.
At least my inner child was happy with the vehicle and building designs. There’s a bevy of nifty and suitably futuristic ways for your citizens to get around and equally sweet places for them to visit. The sound effects are also fine, save for the unintelligible language spoken by the people that seems to have been “inspired by” The Sims. And again, that VTOL plane really does get on your nerves.
Games Insight and innoWate obviously had some new ideas to throw into their city builder, but they just didn’t include enough of them or push them to the limit. In that respect, 2020: My Country ends up just like the real world when compared to the future of my younger self’s dreams: a bit of a letdown.