Burn The City in Review – Think Physics Game Meets Rampage

Hey look, another physics game with a cute protagonist.  It doesn’t take long before you realize that Burn The City is a far cry from your Angry Birds or Cut The Rope, however (the name should be the first clue).  This game is just as amusing as those other offerings, and sometimes a bit more satisfying.  Unfortunately it has a couple of quirks that keep it from being top notch: the scoring system is way out of whack, and the second scenario has been “coming soon” ever since I got the game.

In Burn The City you play a cute little monster that looks something like an Anime version of Godzilla.  Your job is to visit a number of cities and burn them to the ground, using what amounts to a series of flaming loogies to get the task done.  Your final score on each level is a combination of four things: Completion Time, Fireball Damage, Collateral Damage and Explosive Damage.  There is no help to explain the subtle differences between the damage types, but I think you’ll figure it out as you play – I mostly have.  Based on your final score you’ll potentially earn a gold, silver or bronze medal, though it’s possible to complete a level without earning anything.

Along the way you’ll get cool new toys to play with.  For your dining pleasure there is TNT and what looks like peppers to help spice up your shots.  Large boulders and rubber walls make for some interesting combo shots.  And a small nuclear reactor… well, you can guess where that one’s going.  It seems like every few levels they introduce something new and entertaining, so the levels never feel stale.

Sending fireballs flying is simply a matter of dragging your finger from the monster in the direction you want to launch.  Distance from the creature and altitude determine the power and angle of the shot, respectively.  Sometimes you can’t get the maximum distance out of your shot without zooming out, which can be accomplished with the iPhone’s native pinch / zoom feature.  Dragging your finger around the screen when you’re not near the creature lets you see more of the area without zooming.  Even when you do zoom, though, some areas are too big to see all at once, which can sometimes make planning a shot a bit hard.

As for the game’s difficulty, I’d say it starts off fairly simple and then builds up, but that’s not really true.  I still haven’t even earned a bronze on level 2, yet on levels 13 and 23 I got a gold medal.  I think the levels aren’t very balanced as far as their difficulty levels are concerned and worse yet it, seems like the scores needed to attain medals are sometimes astronomical.  I suppose that’s meant to give you more incentive to come back and play, but it can get frustrating working really hard on a level only to come up empty handed.

I love the visuals.  The backgrounds are pretty basic but serve their purpose, and the cities have a cool silhouette look that shows the levels of damage really well.  The best part of the whole thing is the creature, which has great expressions when it is getting ready to launch a TNT laced flame or simply when it smiles.  The only thing that’s a bit weird is that sometimes flames “hover” when the building beneath them has crumbled.  The sound effects are decent enough.  Explosions pretty much highlight the noises, though I do like the “voice” of the monster as it prepares to launch a flame.  There’s some pretty intense music during the menus, but sadly none of that makes it to the game itself.

I’ve been a fan of city demolishing games ever since I first played Rampage in the arcades when I was a kid, and every time a new one comes out I hope it has something different to offer.  There’s no question that Burn The City is something different.  Each level feels different, and so many of them add something new to the mix, whether it’s a different obstacle or another item you have to learn to leverage to your advantage.  I just wish they’d get the scoring system straightened out so it felt more consistent.  And those extra levels would be nice too, because I’m almost out of the ones they have.

App Summary
Title: Burn The City Developer: JoshOClock
Reviewed Ver: 1.5 Min OS Req: 3.1.3
Price: $0.99 App Size: 34.8 MB
  • City destruction is fun
  • Nice variety of levels
  • Cool main character
  • Unbalanced scoring / difficulty
  • Controls can be sensitive


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