TouchArcade Game of the Week: ‘Pocket City 2’

It’s hard to believe but we’re just a few months away from the 5-year anniversary of Codebrew Games aka developer Bobby Li launching the original Pocket City in the App Store. A full premium city-building sim is something that was severely lacking on mobile over the years, and that original Pocket City delivered the goods with a wonderful touchscreen interface, gorgeous visuals, and satisfying city building. And no micro-transactions in sight! There was a reason we chose it as our Game of the Week and awarded it 5 stars in our review when it came out, and since that time the original Pocket City is still pretty much the only serious option for those wanting a premium city builder on mobile.

Just because there’s no real competition in that space doesn’t mean that Codebrew have been resting on their laurels though. In the fall of 2020 a sequel was announced, and this time around the entire game would be built in 3D. I was excited by the announcement, but to be honest Pocket City 2 slipped from my mind in the time since, so I was especially taken off guard when a new trailer was released last month and revealed just what was in store for this 3D sequel. The isometric city-building of the first game was retained, but like a magic trick, at any moment you could zoom right into the city you were building to reveal a 3D open world mode where you as the Town Mayor could roam around partaking in activities or completing missions.

To say that this feature blew my mind would be an understatement. I’d been playing open world games for more than two decades, and playing city builders for closer to three, and it never occurred to me how awesome it would be to design and build your own city AND THEN actually explore the entire thing on foot or by vehicle. This is like a peanut butter and chocolate moment that was just begging to be explored, and so now we have that on mobile with the release of Pocket City 2 this week. I guess the big question is does this ability to roam your own city open world-style add anything to the experience, or is it just a pretty gimmick?

At the risk of teasing, I think I’ll let that question be answered by our pal Mikhail in his full review of Pocket City 2, coming to your eyeballs soon. What I will say though is that the open world feature can be as much of the game as you want it to be, meaning it’s totally possible to just ignore it altogether if you want and just play through Pocket City 2 like a normal isometric city builder. In fact that’s pretty much how I play about 80% of the time, mostly because there’s just so much to be building and managing and monitoring that I don’t really have time to think about “Oh I’m going to go shoot hoops at the park I just built!" or “Oh I’m going to go stop some random muggings on the street!" I love that those options are there, and I think once I get further into my city where it doesn’t need so much micromanaging I’ll probably explore them more.

For now though, Pocket City 2 is exactly what fans of the original game could hope for. It’s bigger and better in pretty much every way just on its city-building mechanics, with the extra open world stuff being like icing on the cake. This is maybe not the most in-depth city builder when it comes to strategy, but it makes up for it in sheer fun and approachability. You can still change between landscape or portrait on the fly, and Pocket City 2 retains that wonderful quality from the original where it’s easy to play for just a few moments at a time or for long stretches. A lot of sim games wouldn’t have that sort of pick up and play nature but it works perfectly for Pocket City 2 as a mobile game.

If you enjoyed the original, I think it’s a no-brainer to pick up this sequel. It seems so far to be better in every way. If you missed out on the first game, it’s safe to just skip it I think and dive right into Pocket City 2 instead. For a mere five dollars you are getting a lot of game here, and I suspect there will still be no real contenders to take its crown as the best premium mobile city builder until the inevitable Pocket City 3 comes along someday in the future. Also, for even more insight about Pocket City 2 and its development, be sure to check out our interview with Codebrew Games from earlier this week and keep your eye out for our review of the game soon.

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