reviews\ Jul 19, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Burn the City Review


Burn the City is another game in the ‘knock things over’ genre that has become so popular on the iPhone. It brings a few new things to the table before knocking it over for points, but it also leaves quite a few things behind in the process.

In Burn the City, you play as a giant, immobile dinosaur who can shoot fireballs out of his mouth and destroy buildings. He can shoot as much as he wants, which is one way Burn the City separates itself from similar games. Your score is mostly derived from how quickly you are able to destroy things and how much damage you cause per fireball, as opposed to how few hits you can use to destroy things. It’s refreshing to just shoot away with no regard to ammo.

The game starts out fairly simple, asking you to destroy a few buildings that are placed right in front of you. You do this by touching the dinosaur and dragging your finger toward your target. A reticule appears on screen to help with aiming, but it only dictates the initial trajectory of your flaming death balls. After the first few training levels, buildings and targets will appear off-screen, making aiming a fun challenge.

The game becomes the most interesting in the later levels, when things like bouncy walls and wrecking balls come into play. This is where Burn the City is at its strongest and sets itself apart from games like Angry Birds. Rather than trying to hit the weakest parts of buildings and cause instabilities, these elements force you to approach the levels like puzzles. You need to figure out how to bounce your fireballs like billiard balls, or the best way to cause a wrecking ball to swing and eventually drop and roll towards the other building that are just out of reach. These levels are the most fun.

Along with the above mentioned elements, you can also collect fireball power-ups that give you stronger blasts, or gives you the ability to shoot fireballs like a sniper. These power-ups can be collected and do not need to be used immediately, which lends to the puzzle feel.

There are a few prevalent problems with Burn the City that, unfortunately, affect the whole game. The standard fireball has very little destructive weight behind it, so you rarely get a chance to feel like a destructive monster. The ways that buildings collapse are also weak and make it not entirely obvious that they have been completely knocked down. There were a few occasions where I thought I had finished the level, only to find I had missed one little section of a building that seemed to blend in.

The game just feels a bit unpolished. Some of the levels work well, and there is a clear domino effect designed by the developers, but others feel like they aren’t working the way they are supposed to. It’s as though the on-paper version of the level looked sound, but it wasn’t tested to make sure it worked.

There are a good bit of levels to be enjoyed here, and while it lacks the polish of something like Siege Hero or Angry Birds, it at least has something to offer. The puzzle elements of the game are where Burn the City really shines, so if your just looking to scratch that destruction itch, Burn the City might not be the one for you.


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Kyle Hilliard I'm pretending, with as much sincerity as my imagination will allow, to be a video game journalist. This is my blog:
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