Hours Played Disclaimer: I accidentally left the game idle overnight during the tutorial, so the hours played is inaccurate.
I am writing this, and I am still very early game in freeplay mode. Keep in mind I have played city and business sims before.
IE offers an extensive tutorial that will introduce you to its mechanics. This game seems to be very detailed and nuanced in terms of its gameplay mechanics. You not only make larger choices about where to place buildings, but you hand-pick the number and type of trucks needed to deliver your goods; different trucks transport different goods. You will also need to maintain your vehicles as time goes on. Also, you can actually determine the shape of the land you purchase for development, as well as the location of buildings within a given plot.
The graphics are nothing to write home about, but they are serviceable and get the job done. So far, I haven't run into any bugs or problems of note.
I'll update this impression once I get more gametime under my belt.
Update: The various information panels available are acutually useful and helpful. As vets of the genre know, this is not always the case with this kind of game.
Your primary source of income will be from fulfilling orders for various products. You will need to deliver the products on time in order to avoid a penalty for late delivery. The game ends if you run out of money. However, you can get a limited number of loans (six, I think) from the bank.
It looks like the game has two gameplay modes: freeplay and scenarios. At launch, there are six different scenarios for you to choose from, which place in charge of varying industries at different stages of development. While the scenarios seem somehwhat interesting, I think most gamers will want to go for freeplay option.
Overall, I recommend this game. I know there are concerns about the the developer's past releases, but I decided to take the plunge, and I am enjoying myself so far.
Update 7/31: Still enjoying the game overall. Pick-up and delivery of goods are made instantly once a truck arrives at a given destination. It looks like the early game is limited to farming, and you will gain access to diffirent techonologies and industries as the game progresses. The game can drag a bit at regular speed when waiting for production of various goods to hit a desired level, but you can speed-up time to compensate.
One minor issue I have run into is the awkwardness of knowing how big the next plot you're going to buy needs to be in order to accomodate a given building. Right now, you have to go into the Buildings menu select the building and look at it's footprint; then you have click on the Land menu and draw out the plot based on your memory of said footprint. This isn't so bad when you're placing one or two buildings, but it can become a bit of a challenge when you're doing more. It's not a dealbreaker, but it is annoying.
If you want to mine, you can order a geological survery that will tell you the size of given deposits in an area, and I wish there were something similar available for setting up water plants. There doesn't appear to to be a water table that tells you what areas of the map have more water than others, and this is a feature I really liked in the latest SimCity. Currently, it seems like you can just plop a water plant anywhere, and it will produce the same amount of water.
Workers become available instantly when you build residences and request a given number, so there's no gradual build-up of the population like in other games. This may not be realistic, but it does allow you get facilities up and running sooner since you don't have to wait for workers to become available once requested. Their travel to and from work is not simulated either.
I still haven't encountered any major bugs or crashes. I'll update these impressions again soon.
Update 7/31 #2: Okay, after playing the game for a while on Freeplay, I would still recommend this title for fans of the genre. If you are trying to choose between IE and the latest Sim City, however, I would go for Sim City, as it's prettier and, perhaps, more streamlined and refined in some of its gameplay elements. Some folks have been reporting lag spikes and sluggish gameplay. I really haven't had any problems in those regards. All of the game features I have tried have worked as one would expect.
The bottom line IMHO is that this is a competent entry into the city building genre, but it could use a facelift and some subtle improvements to make it even better. Perhaps the price tag should be a bit lower given these issues, but this is a generally robust simulation that seems to offer a solid foundation for some good fun. If you're on the fence, wait and see if and how the devs respond to suggetions and complaints.