“Crowd City” a week worth of fun

Ever want to raise an army of mindless followers whose only goal is to infect more people to join your ranks, causing you to grow exponentially and consume everything in sight? If so, “Crowd City” is the game for you.

“Crowd City,” launched last year on iOS and Android devices and is a very simple game. For just about two minutes, you run around a 3D metropolis, adding blank white 3D person sprites to your crowd. Be careful, though, because if another player has more people in their crowd than you, they can infect and steal your followers. If you are consumed by another crowd completely, you die. The player left standing with the largest crowd earns the most stars, which the game uses to unlock skins and to level up players. When players level up, they start with more people in their crowd, with the maximum number players can start with being 45.

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Once you have 500 sprites in your crowd, you’re almost unstoppable.

The game’s biggest strength is its accessibility and quick game play. The last thing gamers want from a smartphone game is long load times, overmonetization and high-commitment matches, and “Crowd City” does not disappoint. It gets extra points for the fact that its only in-app purchase is the ability to pay to turn the ads off. Not even the crowd skins are for sale, which is admirable and adds replay value to the game, as these aesthetic items are tied to gameplay accomplishments.

 

Where the game lacks is in depth, with there being little for players to do once they level up to the maximum starting crowd of 45, though it will take you about a week to get there, assuming you’re playing it only in your spare time. The game also only uses one map, and while the blank people sprites that are necessary to building your crowd early on spawn in randomly-generated points, the general areas in which they spawn remain the same, meaning that it takes only one strategy to win the game over and over again:

1. Rush to the large streets near the center of the map where the most blank sprites spawn and add them to your crowd.

2. Find the nearest enemy crowd you can find that you can reasonably take on and absorb it. Repeat this step until you have the largest crowd.

3. Maintain your dominance by consuming any rival crowd that is near your size or has the potential to get to your size. Usually when you hit a crowd size of 500, you’ve secured your number 1 spot for the rest of the match.

The game also has discrepancies with its reward system, with the first place player receiving 20 stars, the second place player getting 10 stars, the third place player 5 stars, and the rest of the surviving players getting 2 stars, with the defeated players getting a star each. While this encourages players to hang on if they are among the last survivors even if they have small crowd sizes (it is not uncommon for the first place player to have a crowd of 800 and the second place player have one of under 100), if you get stuck in 4th place and beyond, there is no incentive to finish the match. In fact, if you lose a lot of your crowd halfway through, it is more efficient to either close out of the app and start a new game, or to die by hurtling yourself into a larger crowd.

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Dying with only a few seconds left on the clock is the worst.

Matches can also be over quick, even when there is more than half of the time remaining in a match. When a player gets a crowd of more than 500, it usually gets to a point where even if the second place player absorbed all of the remaining crowds, they still wouldn’t have as much as the first place player. I’ve gotten crowds of 800 and above multiple times with more than a minute left on the clock, and had nothing to do but let time run out. There is no bonus for killing all rival players, so once players secure their first place spot, there is no point of playing as a player who barely gets to first place and a player who wipes out all competition get the same reward.

Getting in first place is fun, and absorbing crowd with hundreds of sprites on screen is a treat, even if all of those objects can at times cause your device to lag. Be sure to monitor the app’s power consumption on older devices. “Crowd City” drained the battery on my Galaxy S8, so any device with older hardware might not last very long.

If you’re a “Lord of the Rings” fan, “Crowd City” puts the feeling of leading a sprawling army against an enemy army in the palm of your hand, except there are no weapons and if you have the larger army everyone from the opposing army will become part of your horde.

It’s not a complex app by any means, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it never receives any further updates. “Crowd City” feels like someone’s first game, and it’s good for that. Don’t expect anything that’ll keep you entertained for more than a week. It’s a neat concept that unfortunately I think has a limit, mostly because if the game allowed players to start with more than 45 sprites at a time, the game would crash.

It would be neat to see more maps and different game modes, but only time will tell if the app’s developer will put in the work to keep the game relevant.

Crowd City gets a 6 out of 10

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