|Tycoon City New York (2006)
Available for: PC
The tycoon genre of games are to the PC what the fighting genre of games used to be for the arcade. It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, or if anyone’s even interested, rest assured that there will always be a new tycoon game being released somewhere. This is not even the kind of thing that you could point your fingers at Maxis and blame. Their share of “Sim” titles has been many, but at least there was always a sense of quality behind them for the most part (“SimFarm” and “SimCopter,” you may sit down). Tycoon games, on the other hand, usually sell for around $14.95 hot off the shelves, come with a 5 page manual, and seem more like glitzy shareware than real programs.
If you want to point fingers, just aim them towards Micro Prose, whose “Roller Coaster Tycoon” series pretty much got this ball of wax rolling. And the series is still rolling along, with new expansion packs to go on top of your old expansion packs and so on. It’s still a well-respected line and does extremely well. So it only goes to show that other folks would want in on the action. But trust me when I say that fare such as “Mall Tycoon 2” and “National Lampoon’s University Tycoon” would have been better off just given away like so many AOL CDs.
So here we are with “Tycoon City New York,” which allows players to recreate New York and its boroughs on their own, in a “sandbox” mode, or to play through a series of challenges focusing on specific sections of the city until the whole place is complete. Players will be competing against other AI tycoons to create and control the most successful parts of the city, and of course a budget is always a central concern, so it’s always best to build wisely and to check around to see what the locals want before tossing down any old building.
That said, this game is rather deep. Players can click on individual people walking around town and see what their needs are, or check the overhead view of the Big Apple to see where certain groups of people, say those night owls who want to party, want their next night club, or where the best place to lay down a trendy Internet café would be. And trendiness is certainly at the heart of Greenwich Village, where you’ll start if you choose to play the “Create New York City” option. Before you know it, you’ll be laying down coffee bars, used clothing stores, art house cinemas, and the like.
After you’ve chosen which building you want to place, you can then upgrade it, getting more people to come visit. Upgrades don’t cost money. Players get a set amount of upgrade points, which then ebb and flow per building as the city and boroughs grow. Upgrades include everything from vending and ATM machines to plants, wait staff, tables, signs, produce stands, benches, and plenty more. You can click on what is called the “Sphere of Influence” to access said items and add them onto the properties until they’re just the way you like. Before you know it, those kooky college kids will be filling up your cafés and shops, wanting more, demanding college apartments and office space and all that New York City pizzazz.
Funny then, that since the game does have a bit of depth that it isn’t even really that necessary to get in deep with this game to succeed at it. A lot of times, just throwing down buildings the public wants and then upgrading them will get the job done. But that’s OK, as this title is engaging and fun enough that anyone can pick it up and start enjoying it right away. The in-game tutorial is short and sweet and pretty much tells you everything you need to know to play a fun game.
The graphics are nice and crisp, and the attention to detail is just as attractive. The game sounds nice, too, with people chattering on about the places you’re building (“This place is so off the list!”), varying traffic noises, nature sounds, and the like. The control is also smooth, although sometimes the camera panning can be a little hairy. All in all, though, “Tycoon City New York” is a welcome addition to the genre and is fun right out of the box, so there are no headaches for anyone who wants to just jump in and play. This is always a nice thing, because these types of games really shouldn’t be like flight simulators with 500-page manuals. New York has never looked better, so go ahead and throw that grocery store next to the dive bar. It all makes sense in the end.