Facebook Game Faceoff (iPhone Edition): CityVille Hometown vs City of Wonder

CityVille Hometown vs City of Wonder
In this week's Facebook Game Faceoff, we're taking the battle on the move with mobile editions of the two biggest city-builders on Facebook. It's CityVille Hometown, Zynga's first mobile game to release in five languages, vs City of Wonder, the mobile edition of Playdom's Civilization-like empire-builder. The former focuses more on town cultivation and character development, while the latter is an expansive mobile romp that spans centuries of research and exploration with a dash of combat.

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!

CityVille Hometown gameplay
Just One More Minute...
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).

City of Wonder Research
Playdom built City on Wonder for iPhone with both a sense for longevity and jump-in-and-out gameplay. Collecting from and reassigning all of your Markets and Farms is extremely simple, though the shortest crop takes three minutes to ripen. Buildings take a painful amount of time to complete, as does research. However, all three of these aspects have a set-it-and-forget-it feel to them as they require zero input after starting them off, which is only helped by push notifications. You're always getting something done in City of Wonder, regardless of whether you're actively playing.

CityVille Hometown city
Continuity Error!
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.

City of Wonder gameplay
For all intents and purposes, City of Wonder on iPhone is the web version of City of Wonder ... in your phone. Everything from the graphics to the fonts and other assets have been ripped directly from the original. In short, it's extremely faithful to the original game. Even the original's focus on research and exploration has been replicated. Though, the game's severe faithfulness to the original is almost to a fault in the visuals department when compared to CityVille Hometown.

CityVille Hometown Neighbors
Will You Be My Friend?
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.)

City of Wonder Expeditions
City of Wonder, on the other hand, embraces multi-player--but in a different way. This mobile edition of the game does not use Facebook Connect beyond finding friends who play the mobile game (it doesn't even use Apple Game Center), but rather keeps a list of every player in the game called "Community," and from here players can request a few new friends every couple of hours. This in turn allows you to place embassies in your friends' cities that you can collect Coins from every few hours. But it's Expeditions, anonymous encounters of Trade, Culture or Combat that truly set this game apart. Players can visit up to four random cities daily to boost any of their three main statistics based on the opposing city's stats. It's this feature that can help make a name for you in the game amongst the competition, and fosters the sense of community we search for in these games.

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.

Have anything to add about either of the contenders? Ready for some good old trash talkin'? Share with us in the comments. Add Comment.
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