Sick of slinging cakes in time management games? Want to build a real estate empire but don't feel like crunching numbers? Build in Time may be your answer. Combining some of the best features from big titles such as Build-a-lot 2: Town of the Year and Cake Mania 2, Build in Time blends resource management gameplay with a simple real estate theme to breathe a little life into a familiar genre.
Build in Time puts you in the shoes of Mark Retro, a recent graduate eager to join the workforce. A large building firm hires him on the spot and Mark begins a career that spans 60 years of housing styles. As you play you'll follow the young man's life as he grows up, gets married and starts a family. Your skill at playing the game affects events in Mark's life, and the houses you build (along with the customers) reflect different decades as you play.
The basic skeleton of Build in Time sticks close to the time management formula. When a customer calls, answer the phone and wait for him or her to choose a house. Then, click the matching style and set your crew to work on an empty lot. Once the house is built you'll need to construct any additions and paint it the right color, then simply drag the customer to his new abode to collect your money. Work as fast as you can, as happy customers pay extra cash, which can be a crucial factor in meeting your revenue requirement for the level.
What resource management game would be complete without the ability to buy upgrades between rounds? Build in Time allows you to purchase faster work crews, new add-ons to increase the value of your houses, a receptionist to answer customer calls, additional work crews to build/paint several projects at the same time, and more. This is where individual playing styles can really flourish.
An interesting gameplay addition to Build in Time is the click assist that allows you to hurry workers by rapidly clicking on a job in progress. You can even build combos by constructing three homes of the same style or color with identical accessory (garage, pool, etc.), allowing you to click just three times to finish any in-progress construction. It shoves a spaztastic arcadey feeling to an otherwise precision/reflex-based genre, but mostly it's a welcome addition.
Analysis: Build in Time contains everything you need to know about its gameplay and theme in the title: constructing houses as fast as you can (enhanced by the frantic click assist feature), and building houses through six decades of architectural stylings. Paralleling the game's progression with Mark's life is a great touch and makes the experience feel a little more personal.
If you want to pick a few bones with Build in Time, it is a bit lacking in the graphical department and the gameplay itself could use a little spicing up. The visuals, while perfectly adequate and far from distasteful, don't offer anything special on any front. And after a few long sessions of house building you'll begin to feel as if you're doing the same thing over and over again. The upgrades change things around a bit, but you still feel a bit constrained as far as what you can do and how you can do it more efficiently.
The core gameplay doesn't stray from the beaten resource management path, but the theme leaps right out of the mold and takes a meandering walk through the daisies. I suppose a real estate-flavored game of this type was inevitable after the huge success of the Build-a-lot series, but Build in Time gets everything just about right.