2020: My Country Review - Build a futuristic city on Windows 8

A few months back, Windows Phone Central revealed that Game Insight would be releasing a sequel to My Country on Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. The California/Russia-based publisher couldn’t announce a release date at that time, but at least we knew that 2020: My Country would be their next game for mobile Windows platforms.

At last, 2020: My Country is here on Windows 8 and RT; the Windows Phone 8 version should follow shortly.

Like the first My Country, 2020 is a complex and comprehensive city simulation game. Think closer to Sim City than Kingdoms & Lords. This one takes things into the near future, throwing a few sci-fi elements into the mix. It’s still free to play, which has its ups and downs.  Read on for our review on this new Windows 8 game.

City founder

After launching the game, players are thrust directly into a tutorial - no title screens here. You begin with a small section of city to call your own. The player’s first order of business is to construct an office building. Everything takes real-time to build, but spending a little energy causes tasks to finish instantly. You shouldn’t run out of energy during the tutorial phase, so just hurry things along.

Having erected the building, you’ll need to hire an entrepreneur to run the place. But you can’t just hire a building manager outright. First you’ll need to collect a handful of resources that the professional will need – in this case, a cell phone, briefcase, and folder. To get these and other items, just hop over to one of your other buildings and complete a task. Materials randomly drop after finishing these short tasks, so you might need to repeat the process a few times until you get the goods.

After hiring a professional to run the building, players can then select contracts for the business to work on. Initially you’ll have only one contract duration to choose from, but raising a business’s star rating will unlock longer and higher paying contracts. Whenever the contract wraps up, collect the money it produces and start a new one.

Making money and progress

Other types of edifices such as residential buildings just produce money on their own schedules with no need to choose a contract. After reaching level 6 (the end of the tutorial), players can perform short tasks at any building at any time in hopes of finding materials – or just to earn extra money. Collecting money from any building also causes a VTOL aircraft to come along and drop XP and more money for the picking.

Perform a building’s tasks enough times to raise the place’s star rating and earn a free spin at the upgrade wheel. Depending on where the wheel lands, players can win upgrades to the location’s money production or environmental rating, and even free money, energy, and premium game dollars. Or you might get unlucky and not win anything. The wheel minigame provides a fun little reward for leveling up a town’s buildings.

Like other city builder games, players always have one or more missions to work on. Some involve erecting new businesses or houses, while others might have you purchase upgrades for buildings or clear out space for future developments. Standard stuff, but cute animations like people rushing to a store or celebrating with fireworks instill more personality than you might expect. Events like UFO crashes, fires, and floods also keep things lively while giving players more things to do.

Social features

Let’s face it. There is no point in pouring countless hours of your life into a city building game unless your friends can see what you’ve built. Luckily 2020 does not disappoint in that all-important area. The game allows you to build a friends list from both Game Insight’s servers and Facebook.

I believe that makes the social features platform agnostic, so Windows, iOS, and Android players should all be able to interact with each other. The only catch is they actually have to accept your invites before you can visit them. Speaking of which, send me a friend request if you're playing! My username is EastX.

Upon visiting a friend’s country and remarking at how much nicer yours is than hers, you can also interact with your friend’s buildings. Each time you select one, both you and your friend will gain money or XP for your trouble. You’ll also get social points, which contribute towards unlocking unique goodies for your town.

Finally, players can send one gift per day to each of their friends. Daily gifts include materials and even professional workers, all of which are quite handy. Get a few friends to play and you’ll have an easier time of things.

Graphics and performance

2020 gives players so many things to do and systems to manage that it can get confusing at times, especially early on. The Windows 8 version makes things more confusing than necessary with tiny text and icons that are spread much too far apart. I expect things probably look right on low-resolution screens like the Dell Venue 8 Pro’s, but definitely not on my notebook's 1080P display.

The previous My Country on Windows 8 was also poorly optimized for high resolution displays, and things haven’t improved here. The tiny text and icons are particularly strange because the iPad version (which also runs at a beefy resolution) has adequately sized UI elements. Why not scale them properly on Windows 8 too?

On the other hand, the game does have a few graphical options that will allow it to run better on low-end hardware. You can adjust the pedestrian density from high to low to off, and even turn buildings completely off. Doing the latter will replace buildings with colored panels, which can also be handy just for taking stock of your country or cutting down on clutter. In short, 2020 should be perfectly playable on the more affordable Windows 8 tablets.

Currencies and energy

The currency and In-App Purchase (IAP) systems could also lead to player dismay. 2020 has too many currencies going on for its own good: game dollars, country bucks, gold coins, reputation, and energy. Country bucks are the main premium currency; you can buy game dollars, gold coins, and energy with them. Gold coins are used to buy specific items like hot dog carts and ice cream trucks.

Most processes in the game require energy to perform, whether it’s the actions that buildings offer, constructing a business, or speeding up a process’s completion time. The energy mechanic doesn’t annoy too greatly except for when you’re trying to earn a rare material from a building. You might have to perform a building’s action ten or more times to find the part you need, which can easily drain more energy than your meter holds. In those instances, it might be tempting to just buy the rare item with country bucks.

Wish list

One of the most important features in free-to-play games with In-App Purchases is undoubtedly cloud save support. Nobody wants to pour money into a game only to lose all of their progress when they switch devices or whatever. Sadly, 2020 has no cloud save support. A game like this would be great to play on multiple devices - phone, tablet, and PC. Keeping the user's save data on the device and nowhere else really cuts into the potential to enjoy the game anywhere. Game Insight needs to get onboard with cloud saves and never look back.

Overall Impression

There are about a million city building games out there on phones and tablets. Each game needs a little something to grab players’ attention, and then something to hold onto it and keep them playing. The last genre entry I reviewed, Kingdoms & Lords, accomplished the first part with its PVP battle system. But it totally dropped the ball at long term play value; there just wasn’t enough game there.

2020: My Country first stands out by offering a more fully-developed simulation than typical mobile games. It also packs a ton of content, with numerous missions, buildings, and ways to interact with those buildings. Like all of these games, you’ll need to be able to stomach the time mechanics in order to enjoy this one past the tutorial phase. Perhaps that’s fitting – you can’t build Rome in a day, even in the year 2020.

  • 2020: My Country – Windows 8 and RT – 94 MB – Free – Store Link (opens in new tab)
Paul Acevedo

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • Downloading asphalt 7 this next:P
  • Why not Asphalt 8?
  • 8 is awesome.
  • No xbox :'(
  • I have tried games like these and i always suck at them lol.
  • Agree :D
  • It doesn't help that the game is 99% random number generators though. With a 99% chance of failure, unless you buy into the IAPs...
  • I played through my country literally five times, and everything didn't start going right until the fifth try because you know what you should and shouldn't buy/upgrade.
    That being said, this looks badass!
  • Any info about tr2 and ss for 512 MB devices?? And whats the launch date of the black update?? Any guesses??
  • That has very little to do with a Windows 8 game called 2020 My Country. :P
  • Lol
  • Nothing in fact except tat its about wp;)
  • Dude stop whining its gonna take some time.wat do u want in black? Use dev preview.there are methods to install theese 1gb games bing research them a bit.whining won't get u anything
  • These games bore the arse off me but good to see yet more quality developer support.
  • For me, "killer feature" for these types of games would be if they saved progress. Then you could go from Win8 to WP8. You could also keep your creation with a reinstall, reset or hardware change. After losing all of my work a few times, I'm holding out for this feature.
  • Yeah, the lack of cloud save support is disappointing. Easier to invest when all your progress will be backed up online.
  • Cloud support is only possible for games that are "Xbox Certified" ? Do you know if that is the problem? They should certify more games for Xbox..
  • I don't think that is correct. Any developer should be able to set up and access their own cloud server.
    Xbox support for WP and Windows 8 is dwindling due to Microsoft's overly restrictive policies and the additional time and money involved in producing Xbox games. We published a series of articles on the subject earlier this year.
  • Yep, they absolutely can do it. But there's no incentive for the developer. They'd have to pay for the servers/bandwidth. Plus, if you were the type of person who didn't mind spending a ton of money on IAPs the first time around, you probably won't mind doing it again if your device gets reset. Double win for the devs.
  • The incentive is to make a better game. Using Azure to do this would cost them pennies. Inbound bandwidth is free. Outbound bandwith is pennies for Gigs. Its a no brainer, which makes is suprising they didn't do it. Perhaps support overhead.
  • How much data would it take to backup progress to somewhere in the cloud (SkyDrive, dropbox, etc)? I know other apps will create a backup to SkyDrive. TVShow does, for example.
  • This a good game from game insight but i prefer that game insight port mafia story to Windows phone.
    mafia story could be a blast in Windows Phone.
    i hope game insight hear my comment
  • I used to play My Country heavily on Windows 8. It was one of the first games to support RT and I appreciate that. But there comes a point when you have to spend real money to progress in the game, not just real money but a LOT of money for a game. The game is made like this on purpose. I'm not falling into the same trap again.
  • This, exactly. Paywalls suck. It's not that I'm cheap -- I'd gladly pay $5 to $10 for a quality mobile game. But the way games like these are structured, there's no "maximum amount" of money you can spend to unlock the game and make it fully playable without additional purchases. There's no way in hell I'm spending $50 on a recurring basis to be able to fully enjoy a mobile game where all my progress is permanently lost if my phone gets lost/damaged/reset. It's a real shame too, because My Country was actually a pretty good game that I would have bought if that were an option. Sadly, the fact that they keep forging on with this model means it must be working. I can only assume there's some tiny percentage of people with limitless disposable income who don't mind dropping hundreds of dollars into these games, and so it keeps the business model going. :/
  • It's the same story with "Guns 4 Hire", the game is really fun and I spent quite a sum of money on it, but at the time it seemed fine becuase I was enjoying it. But then I had to change my system and reinstall Windows, to my surprise everything I had unlocked was lost and so was my money. And it's not just about the money, but the time I spent on these games in vain.
  • Would this problem with Cloud support not be resolved? I know not all games support it, but they should.. MS should force it or something like that and make it easy to implement. If then something breaks or gets lost, you should load your cloud game and continue where you were.. And your bought content ingame should saved in that as well. MS should make that possible: "You wanna use paywalls? Save the in-game purchases online." Just a random thought
  • Exactly. I've played a little My country but then it became frustrating, because I needed some item to hire someon to build something. I was waiting and waiting because the game wantet me to buy it for the real money. But if I had bought those items and spent lots of money the game would be without any fun. This is not a simulation game! I would bay for some simplified citybuilding game. I could buy some extra packages but this game is designed to adict people and make them spent money just to get bored and stop playing.
  • I play My Country last days and I like it alot, but I'm gonna stop it when I hit "paywall"... with no regret at all
  • Need the wp8 version for this
  • No Xbox intergration? :((
  • It looks like this does not support RT.  I get an error trying to install this on my Surface 2.  I then realized that ARM processors are not supported.
  • I see that know too. Well lets wait for Kindgom and Lords
  • I just don't get why you would want to play a game like this on a PC, when you can get Anno 2070, Sim City 4 or other great city builders with superior graphics and gameplay, and the two I mentioned you can get pretty cheap now. The only exception I guess would be Windows RT. Edit: Nevermind I just read it does not support RT.      
  • Question... One thing i didn't like about the original was that your city/country didn't sync between devices. Games on my Windows 8 PC and on my Surface tablet were totally separate. Also when I had to reload my Surface software, i had to start again. Has this been fixed?
  • No, the game does not support cloud saves. We should all let Game Insight know we want that feature. That said, you CAN copy and backup saves on Windows 8 devices. So you could move the save from one device to another, but it's a big hassle.
  • I just want clash of clans on WinPhone, an onine battle with friends is awesome
  • Me 2!!!
  • When for wp?
  • Come on, Windows 8 2020 My Country players! Send friend requests to EastX. Post your username here too if you like.
  • So supposedly, I am Mayour4145. Is there a way to change that?
  • Not sure... It asked me to put my name in at some point and I did.
  • Hey Paul! Thanks for the shared review. After I downloaded the 2020 My Country app, played for almost a day and a half, loved it; and when I restarted my laptop (Windows 8), I can't find the app to play the game again. The store says I own it and that it's installed, but I can't find it anywhere to play again. Any Idea on what might have happened and what I should do?
  • Rosie, that's some kind of weird Windows 8 bug. It happened to me with another game before - I simply have no way to access that game after buying it. Best you can do is contact Microsoft support and see if they have any ideas.