Our first reaction upon seeing this app was - With so many city-building apps out there already, you would think that the makers of Ice Age Village would've come out with something more original; especially since the fourth installation of the series, Ice Age: Continental Drift is expected to hit theaters in July.
Well, our first impression was correct.
The story goes like this: Scrat, the squirrel who has been chasing that godforsaken acorn for eons, has accidentally opened a crack in the Earth's crust. Looking for a safe place to stay, Manny, Diego and Sid decide to build a haven not only for themselves, but also for their animal friends. Considerate as always, the Ice Age heroes take it upon themselves to build the village, populate the village, feed the families there and to even keep them entertained. Your job is to assist them in every way possible.
By completing certain goals, you earn coins, acorns and level up. You can trade in these coins (essentially, buy) and acorns for more land to accommodate your growing village, fill up your nursery with eggs, find animal companions, decorate the place and play fun mini-games.
According to Gameloft, the game is free. What they forgot to mention is that you won't be getting much for free after the download. The in-app purchases are rather expensive, ranging from $1.99 to $99 (yes, we're serious). Which took us a little off-guard considering it's catered to children.
Although the game is very cute, and the game-play is very smooth, the flow is rather predictable. It loses its appeal after a while because you know what to expect - more buildings, more families, more feeding and more populating. We wish the dialogue between the characters were given voice, rather than just being typed across the screen in little speech bubbles. Plus, hearing the dialogue provides users with a more vivid experience. Hearing just the background music, the occasional screeches from Scrat and the clicks of your tapping becomes monotonous. In fact, a large chunk of the app consists of tapping and dragging.
To get a level upgrade takes too long a time after the first few initial upgrades. On the flip-side, you get coins a little too fast - literally every 5 seconds.
There were a couple of features we did appreciate - for one thing, the animation was great! We also liked the various utilities you can purchase; from playgrounds to Drawing Stone Walls, from cascading waterfalls to snow sculptures of Sid, you can customize and pretty-up your village any way you like. There's a movie theater in your Village which plays clips of Scrat hunting for his beloved acorn, and he pops up on the screen from time to time - you get rewarded for snatching the acorn away from his little paws.
You can also invite your friends from Facebook to play - they can create their own villages, you can drop by and visit them or even help them out. You can take care of your friends Village, 'Like it', and get rewarded for your effort. A good privacy feature they've included is when visiting Villages of those not included on your friends list, you can only 'Like' the Villages; you cannot enter and help them out.
We feel Gameloft could have done a little more with this App. It was a little disappointing. Then again, die-hard fans of Ice Age and children across the world are going to love the initial novelty the app poses. Especially since it's available in English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
The game is available on the Google Playstore and on the Apple App Store.
Ice Age Village (iPhone/iPod Touch, iPad, Free - Reviewed here)
Ice Age Village (Google Play, Free - Reviewed here)