Fare City: First Shift is a line drawing game for your iPhone at the low, low price of .99 making it unique, well, not at all. That’s not to say Fare City doesn’t have some great things going for it, it’s just that at this point in the genre, it’s going to need to be dancing elephants. It’s a good product, for which I offer my line-drawing stamp of approval. Whether this is the line drawer for you will be a matter of taste, and whether you’ve already spent .99 ten times over on the other games of its ilk.
Beginning with one taxi in your fleet you must pick up and deposit fares before pixel people get impatient. Drawing a line from cab to passenger assigns a color to the vehicle and its route, and once picked up an arrow indicates where you need to direct the driver to deposit the passenger. You can only handle one fare at a time, but until you pick up a fare there’s no telling where they’ll need to be dropped off – and you can’t exchange them.
Each fare is assigned a dollar amount, so points are tallied as money. It’s very entrepreneurial; as you successfully complete fares you will acquire more taxis and your customer base will grow. There are great features here that we’ve come to expect from line drawers, like the fast forward button, as well as some nifty Fare City specifics like “insurance, which is basically a life system. Insurance is earned through successful gameplay and represented as stars at the top of the screen. Crashing will remove the wrecked taxis from the screen while repairs are handled.
The view is a top-down section of urban splendor, conveniently at night so very little is visible other than roads, passengers, and building lights. What others might call ambiance I call a clever way around the more graphically demanding daytime. The map wraps around, so exiting the screen on the left will have your car re-enter from the right. The cars are law-abiding, sticking to one side of the road and turning into the correct lane. The controls are great, and you can pause a car for up to 5 seconds by tapping it, a helpful save known as “Emergency Brake”.
Basically, the Emergency brake is Fare City’s version of my “endless circle” technique often used in the likes of Flight Control. The global leader boards are highly competitive and given the scores I’ve seen I think they serve to humble, not reward. If, however, you are proud of your cabbie skills you can issue challenges to friends.
Fare City is not a bad game, it’s actually a very tidy little game, but it’s been done. With neat features and gameplay elements, it has the potential to be the line drawer of choice for many. Much like the reality TV glut there is now something for everyone in the land of line drawing, so if Fare City strikes your fancy there is plenty of fun in this proficient time-waster.