Reviewed: May 7, 2003
Released: February 26, 2003
Ever wanted to run your own airport? See all those planes landing and taking off in one smoothly operating system, car rentals, and restaurants, all to be commanded at your whim. Let me set you down easy. This game Ė Airport Tycoon 2 isnít it.
Airport Tycoon 2 features:
Well, letís seeÖ basically Airport Tyccon 2 is like all the other management sim games. You buy land to build your airport on and then build the terminals, runways, control towers, and maintain (note itís not a maintenance building, but a maintain building) and emergency facilities. Then you basically just speed up time and let things run. Thatís pretty much it.
If that doesnít sound challenging enough for you then rest assured that you will be tested and found wanting. How so? There is no tutorial. Oh wait, let me rephrase because if you open the scenario menu there are two tutorial missions. They teach you exactly nothing. The most help you get is a paragraph mission briefing outlining your objectives and then youíre off. You do get a helpful little pop up window every so often that tells you requirements for buildings, and some sometimes useful information about buttons, but donít believe everything they tell you.
I played the first tutorial mission four times. Three times were needed just to figure out how to get everything built and running, and the little pop-up window was wrong. I had to look in the manual to find out how to get my facilities up and running properly. There wasnít even a warning box that I needed to connect my buildings to the main road instead of using the ďapronĒ surface that the other structures were surrounded by and that the little box said I needed. The control tower that was already built when I started needed a road, which by the way was not mentioned in the briefing.
The fourth try was make or break because I figured that Iíd gotten all the bugs worked out the first three times, but again I must be missing something because I still needed to have another thousand flights by the time my six months was up. Iím sorry, but if I have to play through a tutorial four times to figure out the rules of the game then there obviously isnít much of a tutorial, or much of a game for that matter. Thatís just ridiculous.
The controls leave much to be desired. Instead of using the genre-standard move-the-mouse-to-the-edge-of-the-screen to scroll the view you have to hold down the left button and then move the mouse around. To rotate the view you hold down the right button and move the mouse, which isnít so bad, but to unselect a building you have to right click. That leads to some abruptly changing views, and with nothing telling you what the controls are this may come as a little surprise. You can zoom in and out with the mouse wheel, but the two caveats with this are that you cannot zoom after selecting a building to build and centering the camera is imprecise at best.
This is sad. Iím not sure I can get enough scorn into the following text, but Iíll illustrate with an example of just how far this game went out of its way to fail to meet any reasonable expectations. Why would you want to play an airport simulation game? Mostly, it would be because you like airports and airplanes and other aeronautical devices, or you like simulation games. Why an airport as opposed to docks or a train station? Obviously to see planes taking off and landing, taxing to the terminal, or to see people being harassed as they wait in line for baggage or to go through customs. You will be sorely disappointed.
The airplanes appear and disappear at the terminal that is all. Iíll give the programmers some credit in that they actually have representations of different types of planes rather than just one stock image. As far as people are concerned youíll see none of them. The most action that goes on is planes disappearing, cars moving to parking lots, and the day and night cycling. Woo-hoo! Stop me from finishing this review with a rusty farm tool embedded in my skull, Iím so excited.
The menus are best described as shoddy and the graphics, as a whole, could be handled by an old 486 or Super NES without them breaking a sweat. Why this game requires a 32mb video card is beyond my comprehension. Computers these days could run this game while still being occupied by something that would really use the processors, like Solitaire, which you would have more fun playing and the graphics are about as good.
Music is for the most part far more appropriate to an action title than a management sim, and the music repeatsÖ to say frequently would be generous. After about five minutes in any one country youíll find the 30-second music loop very grating. The good news is that the music samples themselves are excellent. The Kenyan track was appropriately African in rhythm and the occasional pseudo-vocal, though not cheesily so. The tracks also arenít overtly electronic or at least not with the typical í80ís keyboard horns or anything.
Sound effects, such as they are, boil down to beeps and bloops that are more annoying than anything else. Just turn them off, because itís not like anything is going to happen without you noticing it.
You can play the game in free mode or you can pursue scenarios, of which there are a few, so thereís plenty of time to be invested if you donít have anything else to do like drill a hole in your head to get rid of visions and blackouts that you get from writing algorithms to predict the stock market that just happens to contain the true name of God, or eat pudding. Iíd eat the pudding.
If you havenít figured it out already then Iíll spell it out to you in big bold letters. THIS GAME IS TERRIBLE. Iíve played bad games in the past, but this is very nearly the pinnacle of pathetic. Youíre better off putting your money in a paper shredder or using the CD as a clay pigeon or a coaster. Heck, just send your money to me. I can spend it on something better than this game.