Jim Bray's Car & Tech rants - publishing online exclusively since 1995
Overdrive City

Overdrive City brings sim gaming to car nuts

By Jim Bray
May 8, 2020

Are you a car nut who's tired of being locked down and not able to drive anywhere any more? If so, I have a pastime for you that might make your house arrest a little more palatable.

It's called Overdrive City, a "free" sim-style game for iOS and/or Android operating systems, and according to the press release I received announcing the game, it'll be available on the Microsoft store, too. It is, indeed, a free download but as with so many other free games you'll have to beat off with a stick the many offers that'll pop up as you play, offering you game resources you'll either have to purchase via their offers, or to earn a lot more slowly by playing the game itself over time, rather than opting for the cash outlay.

I don't opt for such cash outlays, which slows down the game's progress substantially, and that tends to make me play rather spottily – I'll go gung-ho until I run out of resources, then slow down dramatically until the resources are available.

According to Gameloft, the company behind the game, Overdrive City provides "a fresh take on city-building while delighting car aficionados with licensed brands and racing gameplay. Car enthusiasts become automotive visionaries and celebrate their passion from the factory floor to the fast lane."

The Montreal-based creator of Overdrive City has indeed unleashed an attractive and fun way to build your "Motor City" (I called my city Animoscity, just because I could), in which you buy and "build" (you place them on the game surface, then they "build" themselves) car parts and other factories and, eventually, factories that build brands of cars – Ford, Mitsubishi, Chevrolet, Volkswagen, etc. You can also perform service on a variety of "other peoples'" cars (if you have the resources), export shipments, and do other stuff such as upgrading your own vehicles (if you have the resources) to make them racier.

Overdrive City

Speaking of racing, there's also a racing quotient to the game, but it's pretty silly. Driving manually means you touch the screen to accelerate and let go to decelerate, but I got bored and frustrated with that pretty quickly and have chosen since to let the game race with itself, via its automatic setting. Automatic takes all control away from you as you either race other cars or drive against the clock or whatever. It's not much of a feature but you have to keep racing if you want to keep earning stuff that lets you make progress in the game.

As you build your Detroit (or Stuttgart or Seoul or whatever), you can add roads and buildings and get rid of trees and rocks that are in the way of where you want to place your new buildings, which must make the game really popular with the greenies and "warm mongers" (hat tip to Mark Steyn). It's very much sim as opposed to some Hot Wheels game, though it's neat seeing the variety of cars available and I can't wait until I've earned the right to unlock a Porsche (any Porsche!). So far, I have factories to build Volkswagens, Mitsubishis, Nissans, Chevrolets and Fords and have unleashed several vehicles onto whatever virtual world they go to when you put 'em in a truck and send 'em off.

Car nuts can – eventually – complete their collection with over 50 cars from such iconic models as the Porsche 911 GTS, Nissan GT-R Nismo, 1967 Ford Shelby GT500 etc. Naturally I haven't earned any of these yet and getting closer is really trying my patience…

The livery of each vehicle can be customized with various paint schemes and there's supposedly also a six-chapter career mode across a variety of exotic locations that I have yet to find, let alone qualify for.

The maker says future updates will bring new cars, brands, and features.

There are some edifices you can build besides ones that are strictly auto-related, but in m experience so far you don't need them and they just take up space. But most of the buildings you'll buy and build are some type of automotive-related factories, either to create raw materials, parts (suspension, engines, whatever) or the completed cars themselves.

The rather uninvolving racing aside, if you're a fan of sim-type games you might enjoy this one. And if you're a car nut, you might enjoy it even more: I enjoy looking at – ogling, actually – the various cars in the game, of which there is an abundance, even if I haven't earned the right to build them myself yet.

Other than its definite automotive focus, the game reminds me of Electronic Arts' SimCity Buildit quite a lot, a game I also have on my iPad. Overdrive City functions pretty well the same, too, so if you like that game and you like cars, this might be right up your alley.

Alas, there's at least one rather silly component to the game that the supposed car nuts who made Overdrive City really should have paid a little more attention to, or at least done a bit more homework (or spent a little more resources) on.  It also makes me think they're either not the real car nuts their press materials purported them to be, or they cut some corners in their animations.

What is this? Well, when your virtual car is spinning its wheels, creating a nice virtual cloud of tire smoke, the stuff comes from the rear wheels of the car regardless of whether it's rear wheel drive or not. So, you get clouds of smoke coming from the back tires of your Volkswagen GTI or Mitsubishi Eclipse or Nissan Altima – the list goes on and on. Pretty sloppy.

Still, I'm enjoying Overdrive City and will probably keep at it for a while. And since it's free as long as you can resist all the popup ads (etc.) you don't really have anything to lose. How's that for high praise?

On the other hand, if you're looking for something that's more Gran Turismo or iRacing than it is SimCity, this definitely isn't the game for you.

Copyright 2020 Jim Bray
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