Build It! Miami Beach Resort – iPad
Publisher: G5 Entertainment
Developer: Cerasus Media
Release Date: May 29, 2013
Genre: Strategy, Time Management
Reviewed by Mark Smith

Review Score: 4 of 5

I’ve always been a big fan of strategy and time management games, so G5’s Build-a-Lot games have provided countless hours of entertainment and a nice diversion from most of the other HOA and endless-runner games filling up my iPad. Their new game, Build It! Miami Beach Resort borrows on the construction and management aspects found in that series but mixes things up with a bit of surf and sunshine.

You begin the game in the 1920’s with a nice piece of beachfront property that you will slowly build up year after year (or level after level). Your goal is to build and maintain and constantly expand your resort, checking off a list of objectives each year and getting all the work done within time and budgetary restraints. More than ever, the theme of the game really drives the types of building and activities you can create for your guests. Not only will you need to keep building up your resort; you will be periodically tasked with upgrades, repairs, and renovations on existing properties.

Properties have unique relationships to each other and their location so proper placement is essential in creating the perfect resort, especially if you want to maximize your earning potential. While the game will tell you what to build, it is up to you as to where to build it. I loved the balancing act of creating non-revenue generating properties to build up the appearance and attract tourists versus building bars, restaurants and theaters to drain their wallets after they arrive. And with only a limited number of building permits you have to choose wisely.

The one thing I really enjoyed about Build It! Miami Beach Resort is that you are working with the same piece of land throughout the duration of the game. In other games you keep moving around and starting over, but here you get a real sense of progression, and I found myself actually getting attached to my little slice of heaven. There was a sense of pride as I watched my resort grow throughout the 60 years and a sense of loss when I had to retire.

Another unique twist is that rather than hiring a team of handymen to do all your work you are doing all the work yourself. This means that project and time management skills play an even greater role since you can’t spread the workload or have simultaneous projects. You must complete one task before the next one begins.

Gameplay is pretty slick. You just read your objectives, pick your category, building and then choose the perfect spot and construction begins. The animations are fun but everything is accelerated so you don’t spend too much time watching repetitive tasks getting completed. The pacing is surprising nice for a strategy game. The menus and interface are clean and easy to navigate and the touch controls work well for this type of game.

I enjoyed the variety and details for the graphics, and I loved the way I could watch one piece of land slowly evolve over 60 years. I wish there had been some people added to the mix so I could see my resort actually being enjoyed by someone, but I guess this game is all about buildings and not the people who use them. Plus, at the accelerated rate this game plays they would have just been scurrying around like ants. Later in the game when the map is full of building, it can get a bit troublesome navigating the overhead view and finding places to build.

There are some cool concepts like finishing all your tasks before July 2nd. Sure, you have the whole year but if you can get the work done before the summer holiday you’ll earn that Expert ranking and the rewards that go with it. This can be extremely challenging and is probably best tackled on a second playthrough after you have mastered the rhythm and concepts of the game.

And for those wondering if there is life after retirement, it’s called the Riot Mode. Yes, when your 60-year term as property manager is up you get to see how fast you can demolish your own resort. It is as fun as it sounds. Actually, the whole game is a blast with so much to do and somehow they make it seem fresh over the course of 60 levels. I think the biggest draw for me was sticking with the same resort over that time and watching it evolve. That concept alone kept me playing Build It! Miami Beach Resort to the bittersweet end. I really wish they had a way for taking a screenshot at the end of each year then showing a 60-second timelapse of your property.

Build It! Miami Beach Resort is one of the best strategy games I’ve played on my iPad in a long time, and if you love all the intricacies of creating and maintaining a thriving beachfront resort then you won’t want to miss this.