Airline Tycoon 2 is another business simulation game in which you must successfully run and manage an airline. The game is the sequel to the original Airline Tycoon that was released way back in 1998 by German developer Spellbound and publisher Infogames. The original had a few add-ons, but to this day we have not had a true sequel, until now. This time round, Airline Tycoon 2 has been published by Kalypso Media, who are famed for backing a number of strategy based games. So the big question is, ten years on, is it a worthwhile game to play? Well let’s find out.
Over the years ‘Tycoon’ games seem to have lost a lot of their appeal, despite the fact that many of them are worth playing. Only a few stand out over the years, such as Roller Coaster Tycoon, while many have tried, but failed, at bringing you an idea of running a business and making it an enjoyable experience at the same time.
Airline Tycoon 2 is very much a remake of its predecessor and it shows. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however. As with a lot of sequels, often the developers build on what they already have. How else do you think series manage to develop? If developers wrote every fresh piece of code from scratch we would hardly have any game releases each year.
This game certainly looks great, like the original, the developers have kept the cartoon style look and feel and given it a lick of paint. It looks great and the colours are all vibrant and stand out. Each scene has loads of detail in it and you keep seeing humorous remarks, Like the PlayStation 3, Move controller and bottles of spirits you’ll be able to spot in the centre of the boardroom table. It certainly makes a difference from water; maybe that’s where current airline companies have all been going wrong. Get the executives drunk and we may have better airlines and airfares. Hmmm, I might write to them and suggest that.
Anyway, sorry about that, back to the game, which does try to be enjoyable and a pretty demanding business simulation at the same time. The sound effects are pretty basic, just really the sound of an airport and some cheesy music, but, on top of this, you also have spoken dialogue for the individual people you have to put up with as you go about your daily tasks. Some of this, however, can become annoying after a while. For example, one man in the design area where you can add upgrades to your planes such as seats, lighting etc., has an extremely obvious and annoying man with an obvious cliché accent that many male designers are tarnished with.
The actual gameplay, though, is not too bad. Once you have played through the tutorial where you are taught all the ins and outs of becoming the new CEO of the company, you soon get to grips with it all. Like modern budget airlines that we see today, not all airlines can afford to buy nice new shiny planes in the beginning and you often find yourself having to buy a second hand plane. You, of course, have the option in the hanger – with the help of your trusty Einstein wannabe – to build your dream plane. However, if you chose this route at the beginning, it would not be long before you face liquidation. You are best buying cheap and getting yourself off the ground.
After all, we also have staff to hire, new flight routes to rent. Yes, you need to rent new routes then gain money back from your airfares and hopefully fully loaded flight, which was something I never understood all the intricacies of, until now. That would explain why my local airport still doesn’t have as many cheap flights as London airports. Somehow, during all the learning and pretty fulfilling gameplay on offer, I actually started to get a feel of what airline companies have to put up with to give us those cheap flights to the sun and I actually feel slightly different towards them. Now, before you all start screaming at me and I start a political debate over airline companies, yes, I am aware this is still a game and not real life. What I am trying to get across here is the actual gameplay seems very in-depth and there are lot of things you need to do to be successful. I had to restart completely about three times until I started to get the hang of things, but once I did the game was fun and enjoyable.
Now I don’t want you to get the idea in your heads that this game is perfect, it does have its downfalls. Putting the characters’ narratives aside, I also found it a bit frustrating that to move between departments you are faces with a third-person, sort of arcade game. Well, when I say game, I mean control system. You have to walk between departments to manage everything. Although at first this is great as you can see and enjoy all the finely detailed graphics I mentioned before, after a while it gets a bit annoying, especially when all you want to really do is check on something, like to remind yourself how many staff you have working for you. It would have been nice to have a quick option, like using your PC in your office to access all these areas. It’s just a thought, I can only presume it’s like this as the developers want you to feel like you are in a real airport and not an executive that just sits at his desk all day.
After an hour or so of learning, I started to really enjoy the feeling of buying that first brand new airplane you have managed to save for, or paying that bank loan you got so you could hire better trained staff. This is a game that, like the original ten years ago, does a nice job of balancing it’s realism with reward and enjoyment game. Now, I’m off to design my new Brash Games Concord, and take to the skies, Tally-ho people !!!!
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