For those of you who partake in the world of Facebook games, you've probably noticed a dearth of auto-related fun. That's about to change with the introduction of Car Town, a new Facebook app set to launch this week.
Since the bulk of the truly entertaining Facebook games focus on mobster training or channeling your inner Old McDonald, it's about time that gearheads had their own way to get lost in the social media gaming space. Then again, we already
The crew at Cie Games have spent the past several months sacrificing their own time so we can waste all of ours. And what they've developed could be our new favorite time-waster on the interwebs.
We were recently treated to an inside look at the game and came away so smitten we've already begged a few thousand credits out of them to keep our habit fed. As we quickly discovered, Car Town's not about racing, it's about collecting. New Car Town gamers are given a basic garage that forms their home base. They're also given some credits to customize their garage or to "buy" a car, starting out with basic transportation appliances and working up the scale to super exotics like the McLaren F1, Lamborghini LP670-4 SuperVeloce, Mercedes SLR McLaren and so on. Old cars, new cars, trucks, SUVs, muscle cars, hybrids, they're all in there. Cie has even been granted a license by the Indy Racing League to include Indy Cars and a virtual Indy 500 museum will be a part of the game some time soon. How they managed to get all of these top brands licensed for Car Town is beyond us, we're just thankful they did.
The game is incredibly simple: Players earn points by performing jobs or taking on challenges, they can build their own garages with service bays to do more jobs, hire and interact with friends in the game and buy cars – lots and lots of cars. Showrooms offer up plenty of eye candy and the prices are just tempting enough to have you washing cars, changing spark plugs and delivering pizzas all day long to save up enough cash for your next purchase. Pretty much anything you can do in a real car you can do in Car Town. Well, almost anything. You can race, you can take road trips, you can do deliveries or you can simply putter around town. But more than anything else, you can your customize virtual rides.
This is probably our favorite part of the game, as the options are endless. Besides simple stage 1, stage 2 and stage 3 types of performance upgrades, you can alter your cars' wheels, tires, chassis, body kits, paint scheme and graphics, including the ability to upload your own graphics to add to the flanks of your car, adding a whole new dimension of personalization. Take a look at the gallery of screen captures and you'll see what we mean.
Talking to the developers, you see a lot of car people in the talent pool... but many of them are converts. That is actually one of the side benefits of the game – non-car people become car people while amassing their collections. During beta testing they say many of the non-car people enjoyed the game simply for its challenges and inviting look and feel. Ordinary cars are available from Honda, Toyota, Ford, Chevrolet and the like, so it's easy for new players to replicate their real world ride if they choose. That was the path taken by many newbies, but the customizing bug struck soon enough. Upgrading their virtual rides gave them a chance to sample dozens of different looks and to learn what those strangely named parts actually do for their vehicles. Pretty soon they were noticing aftermarket rims that would look good on their real world cars too.
While game play is fairly simple and fun, you'll probably end up spending most of your time admiring the cars. We've embedded a video teaser of Car Town below so you can see how addictive it is for yourself. Like us, you'll inevitably think, "They've got those in the game?! What do I need to do to get it?" Fortunately, most cars are just a few (hundred) clicks away. If you simply can't wait or don't want to wash cars for the rest of your life, Cie will let you use some real world cash to speed up the process. They haven't worked out the exact exchange rate, but it's likely to be a couple of bucks for basic transportation and maybe $15-$20 for exotics. Ultra exotics like the McLaren F1 might be a bit more. It's a simple formula that has proven to work well in many of these otherwise free Facebook games.
While most players will just play the free version, there will hopefully be enough folks out there in Facebook land that want a shiny new GT-R post haste and they'll pull out their wallets to compensate these talented designers and programmers for their months of hard work. Their efforts definitely show in the game play, in the enormous variety of vehicles for purchase, in the customization options available and in the dozens of hours we've already lost testing it out for review. It's a tough job, but... you know the rest. Car Town launches some time this week and the team at Cie knows there will likely be some teething problems over the first few days, so they ask for your patience. Once it's up and running, we're pretty sure every car person on Facebook will be playing it and a slew of future gearheads will be indoctrinated into the car clan.
For now, check out the gallery and the video clip below.