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Plan It Green - Clever Name, Clever Sim?

by: Christian Cawley ; edited by: Bill Fulks ; updated: 5/25/2012 • Leave a comment

Eco friendly green technology and living are the way forwards, and games like Plan It Green are designed to encourage this philosophy - but does the game live up to its price tag?

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    Eco Friendly Green City Planning

    Plan It Green seems like a smashing game - and the concept of a "green Sim City" is certainly an attractive one.

    Available from the National Geographic website, Plan It Green comes with a free 60 minute trial for you to try out some of the early missions. This is a great feature and one which is becoming increasing common among independent video game producers. It's great for giving a good flavour of the game and determining the difficulty level, and wIth a relatively small 53 MB download it gives a great sample of what Plan It Green is all about.

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    System Requirements

    Plan It Green is suitable for Windows 2000/XP/Vista machines with a minimum 600 Mhz CPU, 256 MB RAM and a 120 MB Hard Drive; it also requires DirectX 6.0.

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    Like an eco-focussed Sim City, Plan It Green requires the player to managing the regeneration of their city on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis. Residential, industrial and commercial areas are covered, with wind turbines, bike shops and solar plants all available for you to replace the polluting old-fashioned structures.

    Beginning in a run-down part of time full of demolished properties and resource-wasting houses, the aim is to build new eco-homes and upgrade existing properties alike, adding to each gardens, solar panels, insulating paint and more.

    Plan It Green borrows the zoning idea from Sim City, using it to control where certain building types can be placed while resource management is represented by means of higher taxes paid by new arrivals in the town attracted by the new cleaner areas and bonuses for power saving which can be sold in exchange for tools.

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    Plan It Green Screenshots

    Plan It Green menu screenThe polluted and run-down starting neighborhoodThe clean and eco-friendly area!The end of level scores and bonusesFinally an example of the cut-scene illustrations
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    As you can see from the screenshots, graphically Plan It Green is adequate - a birds eye view of the areas to be upgraded is offered with a succession of interesting and user-friendly menu items and tools.

    It's very static however, with very little animation and only the cutscenes to provide a visual change in focus. You might think "well it's only 53 MB" but plenty of games in the past have done far more graphically with far less hard drive space.

    National Geographic's visual "house style" is all over this game - they have several others available on their website with the same look. There's nothing offensive about the way the game looks - it's just limited.

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    If there are sounds in Plan It Green, I can't remember any.

    Audio wise, there's nothing challenging about Plan It Green, save a few upgrade sound effects and "fairy bells" when a level has been completed. It's a little patronising and certainly ill-advised to skip on the sound in such a way - it just adds to the various elements of the game that as a whole lend Plan It Green to comparisons with any number of casual games to be found on Facebook or various browser game sites.

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    Disappointing Propaganda

    The National Geographic website is charging a hefty $24.95 for Plan It Green - a lot of money for what is essentially a Facebook game.

    While appearance-wise the game resembles Sim City, there are none of the nuances of micro management of the earlier game to be found here - it pains me to describe it as such but Plan It Green really is nothing but repetitive green propaganda, a series of missions drawing on the same limited tools to provide a semblance of some sort of "challenge" and seemingly designed to push "poster child" green solutions in favour of realistic ones.

    This is a very disappointing game that in no way is commensurate with the price tag.