|Publisher: Last Day of Work Genre: Simulation|
|Min OS X: 10.4 CPU: G4 @ 500 MHz RAM: 256 MB Graphics: 32 MB VRAM|
The Virtual Villagers series hasn't changed much from game to game. The interface has only had a couple minor updates, the gameplay has remained almost exactly the same since game one, and there really hasn't been anything new or innovative in the series so far.
Virtual Villagers: The Secret City (VV3) is the latest game in the series. Will it add something new or will it just be another rehash of the same game? That's the question to be answered in...
GameplaySadly, you'll find nothing new in VV3. As always, you drag your villagers around to get them to do various tasks, like building, researching, making potions, etc. and solve puzzles to get yourself upgrades or a small plot sequence. The only thing that's remotely new is the "village chief." Once unlocked, the village chief orders around the villagers and keeps them organized. This helps some in keeping them from wandering off, but it can also get them to ignore harvesting food in favor of the chief's task if you're not careful. There's nothing quite as annoying as leaving and coming back two days later to find your entire village starved and sick with half of the villagers already on the brink of death. Especially when you can fish at the time.
The main problem with VV3 is that you simply have nothing to do. Once you're settled, you don't have to micro-manage your villagers at all. All you can do is wait for whatever they're doing to be complete or gather collectibles. Sure you can quit for a while and come back after a day or two, but there's still not much to do in between breaks. If there was even a mini-game or two it'd break up the monotony and make VV3 much more enjoyable. You might be able to spend a few minutes on a puzzle or collecting feathers, but there's not much more.
GraphicsIt does have one saving grace, though. Due to the new weather effects and slightly updated other graphics, VV3 looks way better than VV2. The rain obscures the island while causing droplet effects on the ground, the clouds are quite scenic, and the occasional foggy day is quite beautiful. There's also an easy way to change the weather, if you know where to find it.
Aside from the new weather, there's nothing new in the graphics. The villagers look roughly the same, the world map hasn't changed, and the new interface is the old interface with a new skin to match the island. It still looks good, but don't be surprised if you can't remember which Virtual Villagers you're playing.
SoundThe sound is, sadly, almost exactly the same as VV2. The music has changed, but the sound effects aren't noticeably different. It was tolerable the first time, tolerable the second, but a little worn for VV3. It'd be nice to see the sounds get an overhaul just for a little change.
ValueThe question is, should you pay $20 for nothing more than a rehash of Virtual Villagers: The Lost Children? I'd recommend against it unless you're a rabid fan of the relaxed simulation genre. If you like games that have a lot of action, or even if you get bored while playing SimCity 4, don't spend a dime on VV3. However, if you haven't bought any of the Virtual Villagers and enjoy watching other people work for you, give Virtual Villagers: The Secret City a try. It's worth it... once.
Pros• Beautiful weather effects
• Relaxed pace
• Villagers work while you rest
Cons• Nothing really new
• Not much to do
• Villagers starve while you rest