Game Review - by James Allen
With the recent influx of Tycoon games, and the popularity of them, especially RollerCoaster Tycoon, it was just a matter of time before we saw a whole line of Tycoon games trying to milk the success of earlier games. So, here comes Airport Tycoon. I think. See, the game refers to itself by its Australian title AirMogul, so the only place where you see Airport Tycoon is on the box. I actually think I saw "RollerCoaster Tycoon" somewhere in the menus. This is usually not a good sign for a game, and, as we shall see, it just goes with the flow of Airport Tycoon.
Airport Tycoon concerns itself with simulating (surprise) an airport. You get to choose an airfield in several exotic locations, each with their own specific challenges: earthquakes (my favorite), political unrest, and constant rain, for example. Then, you are left to build the airport to hub status. Now, I for one expect the process to be somewhat complicated, so the first thing I look at is the tutorial. For some reason, some people like to browse the manual first, and this is a mistake with Airport Tycoon. Absoultely no help whatsoever is provided by the manual, a paper thin pamphlet which was obviously made to preserve trees. OK, well since the manual provides no information, I guess the tutorial will. Or maybe I should say movie. Yes, the computer controls all movement during the tutorial, and you are left just to watch, which actually can be really entertaining. The tutorial goes excruciatingly slow, and the computer usually doesn't even do its own tutorial well, usually misplacing objects in areas that the game specifically prohibits. Pretty funny.
Airport Tycoon does have many different types of structures to build and place within your buildings, though. Pretty much any structure you've seen at an airport is included in the game, after its been unlocked after a certain date in the simulation.
Airport Tycoon does have some scenarios, just about two of them. I don't even bother with them. Airport Tycoon's mixed bag continues.
There's sound in this game? I've found a grand total of 4 sounds so far: the general ambient sound of your environment, like wind for Toronto, even in summer months, the repetitive public address in the terminal, the repetitive air traffic controllers in the control tower, and the beeper, which is the most prominent one in the bunch. There's also background music, but I turned that off immediately.
With all the problems with graphics, sound, and everything else, the gameplay can't be good, right? Well, this is where I hoped to tell you that the gameplay is stellar, but that's a lie. The gameplay runs in the same vain as all the other shortcomings. You can do contract negotiations with several airplane companies, but returning a contract for further review usually results in a LOWER contract later. So, since the business end of the game was the only thing left, it seems even this has failed.
The game is 3D accelerated, but I have no idea why. The airport landscape is joyless, objects are blocky at best, and clipping problems (and the general disappearance of objects when you zoom out far enough) are the rule. Well, that's OK, as long as the graphics show some relevant information, right? That would be nice. The graphics in the game have no bearing on what's actually going on. Your air traffic load could be a maximum, and all of your plane stands could be empty. Planes take off an land at random, instead of on schedule. This is even "fixed" to be more random in a patch for the British version!
In addition, a beeper, which is cute for the first 30 seconds or so, warns you of goings-on in the airport, but since the beeper window is so small, you usually have to watch the beeper more than once to get the whole message. You really have to read the beeper to know what improvements are needed. I've been warned that my long term lots are nearing capacity, even though no cars are parked in them on screen.
Even more, the people included in the simulation are blockheads, in more than one way. First off, they resemble the Square Polygon People from 1993, not 2000. And, they rarely interact with any of the objects in your terminals, usually ignoring security measures all together. These graphics are subpar, especially with 3D acceleration.
I really, really wish Airport Tycoon was a good game, because an airport simulation is a new idea, and one that gets me personally excited. If you want to see how to NOT implement a new game, look no further than Airport Tycoon. This game isn't even worth the low price. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to dedicate the next hour to watching the tutorial.