Bridge It - Sail on By

Jake Spencer
27 March 2012

All I had heard about Bridge It before trying the OnLive demo was that it is a "bridge-building simulator." That's true, but it's also somewhat vague. Am I drawing blueprints? Am I playing the role of a construction foreman? "Bridge-building simulator" as a high-level genre intrigued me, but what does it mean in terms of concrete game mechanics?

After spending a few minutes with Bridge It, I have a revised description: "Slow-paced World of Goo with realistic graphics."

Bridge It:

World of Goo

Again, I only sampled the first few minutes of Bridge It, so I won't pretend that I know much about it, but even with that caveat, I can tell you which of the above games I'd rather play. World of Goo communicates its appeal within the first few seconds. Building a structure is ludicrously easy and intuitive. Anyone can click a few goo balls and comprehend the way they stick together. If your structure is unbalanced or poorly supported, you see it start to sway or topple instantly, and you can react just as quickly. Understanding the rules and controls of the simulation is so effortless that you can move straight to the game's fun and challenge - easy to learn, hard to master.

Bridge It is more complex. I skipped the tutorial at first and proceeded to click experimentally through the first level's menus. Unlike World of Goo, building is not in real time. Instead, you build your bridge, then click "Simulate" to test it. I assumed so, at least. When I tried this strategy, however, nothing happened. Maybe I built my bridge incorrectly? Without more feedback, I couldn't tell. Hm.

My new approach: Complete the tutorial.

The tutorial does a fine job of explaining everything, but it's slow and dry, and I got the impression that I was only being prepared for a slow, dry game. It's a lot of menu navigation and deliberate clicking. I imagine that's followed by watching cars and trucks crawl over the bridge until it cracks, then going back to make adjustments, and repeating, but I was ready to quit before I got that far.

When I played World of Goo, I did so in three player co-operative mode on Wii. That's three people pulling from the same resources and building on the same structure. It was fast and chaotic, and we all wanted to kill each other after every level. Someone would add one too many goo balls on the left side, someone else would panic and add seven on the right, and the third person would give up and set the whole thing on fire. We loved every minute of it.

Not everyone wants that kind of mania. No doubt, there's someone who liked the concept of World of Goo but found it too twitchy and stressful to enjoy. If that's you, Bridge It is your game. The rest of us can pass over this one.