City of Wonder, developed by Playdom, is a construct-your-own-city simulation with a historical slant. As such, City of Wonder adds one more dimension to simply just constructing a city: it also allows you to construct your own history to better technology, artworks, and/or military. While this certainly makes the game unique, the complexity and slow growth makes it difficult to enjoy the game in the beginning. It does, however, get much better further into the game.
Starting City of Wonder is similar to CityVille: a Cultural Adviser guides you into collecting new populations, money, and cleaning up cultural decorations. And, well, that’s it. Goals are introduced in the upper-right hand corner, but unlike CityVille, only one goal will appear at a time. From this ever changing goals, however, all the actions are introduced, including farming, planting, visiting other cities, researching new technology, developing a military, building markets, decorations, monuments, homes, and so forth. Finally, Expeditions are introduced, allowing you to either exchange culture, trade, or go to war to other colonies.
City of Wonder has a few advantages and disadvantages compared to CityVille. On the advantages side, City of Wonder does not use the energy system in CityVille, allowing you to conduct any activity as rapidly and as long as you’d like. Instead of the energy system, you’re only limited to the amount of resources you have left to build and expand your territory. This is quite a huge relief, considering how so many games rely on this trope too much (Bejewled and Angry Birds being notable exceptions). Another advantage is the unique Expedition system. Your attacks, trading skills, and cultural sophistication are all dependent on the kind of buildings you’ve created. Thus, you have to strategically construct a city tailored towards a certain attribute, while sacrificing others.
On the disadvantages side, City of Wonder “builds-up” slower than CityVille, and has a worse GUI. Visiting you’re friends cities are not very satisfying, since the only action you can take is to collect from their Embassy. Since there’s no reason to explore other peoples’ cities, there is no aesthetic competition. City of Wonder also feels less animated, which is a bit of a double-edge sword. While it’s convenient that resources are collected automatically simply by clicking on a farm, it loses the gratification of collecting the spurting items via a mouse. Spam-wise, City of Wonder demands less from your friends, but more from your credit card.
I personally thought City of Wonder was a slightly less entertaining than CityVille, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad at all. I found it quite satisfying playing it, even though its GUI is rather unwieldy.