Build A Lot 3: Passport to Europe PC review

Crisis in the housing market? Not in Build A Lot 3, there isn't...

As a big fan of Build A Lot, I couldn’t wait to play the next instalment. However, I managed to skip that one and move directly onto the third – Build A Lot 3: Passport to Europe. I expect I shall go back and play Build A Lot 2: Town of the Year at some point.

The third instalment is immediately appealing. As always, you have the tutorial levels so those that have never played any of the games before know what they’re doing. Soon afterwards, though, you’re launched into the action. Already from the options at the bottom of the screen you can see how many more things you can build and create, even if you’re not allowed to do so just yet.

The action begins in England, and the rest of the countries you visit are Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Germany, France and Greece. They all have their own amusing ‘quirks’ – stereotypical things like it rains a lot in Ireland and England, it’s snowy in Switzerland… you get the idea.

As always, you have set goals to achieve in each level, whether it be a certain amount of houses, empty lots, an amount of money, etc. But to add a twist (I’m not sure if this features in Build A Lot 2, guess this is as good an excuse as any to play it and find out), houses and neighbourhoods now have something called ‘appeal.’ That is, a new house you’ve just built will have neutral appeal. However, landscape the garden, (which requires a Garden Center) and you’ll add +5 appeal, boosting its value and rental income. Similarly, add a lick of paint and you’ve another +5. I loved this feature, having great fun in colour coding my communities – one of them was entirely pink!

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There are also houses which begin the game with negative appeal because they are dilapidated and need restoring. You have the option – either flatten it and start again (often a good idea if it’s a small property, as building a bigger one in its place will earn you more cash), and restore it to its former glory.

As well as these tarting-up-of-property features, there are Landmarks available, which massively boost the appeal of neighbouring properties. They do come with their own problems, however, as if you don’t own a Garden Center, then every now and again a Landmark will become dirty and one of your builders will have to clean it. This can be a pain as you’re also dealing with building and demolishing and emergencies in the houses.

Having to repair broken houses was present in the first instalment, but now you also have other emergencies – your properties are now in danger of setting on fire, having rowdy residents which require police intervention or having an accident which requires medical assistance. Unless you have the relevant emergency service building in your town, you will be required to procure assistance from the neighbouring town, at a cost.

Despite the numerous challenges, the game wasn’t too taxing. I didn’t have to replay a great deal of levels before I completed the game, but I also didn’t achieve perfect status on each – that is, to complete the level in a set amount of time. Some people like to go back and replay levels on which they didn’t get this status. Me, I finished the game and browsed off to find my next procrastination method.

Overall, Build A Lot 3 is the bigger, older brother to the first (and presumably the second) with additional features and challenges. The graphics are little changed, but it’s just as addictive as ever. If you’ve played the first and enjoyed it, play this. If you haven’t, but you’re looking for something different, I recommend the Build A Lot series as there’s more to these games than just frantically clicking in the right places.

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13 January 2009


4 out of 5