As far as management sims go, Empire TV Tycoon is a strange creature. The game is a solid simulation, but with barely any TV shows to put in your daily programming (with the focus mostly on movies past and present) Empire TV’s strong foundations soon unravel a shallow core.
You don’t mess around in Empire TV; you pick your character, name your network and your journey to the top of the TV food chain begins. The aim is to become the best network, competing against two rivals who work in the same tower block as you and your team. This is achieved by managing a daily schedule of TV shows and movies that you think will appeal to the viewers that currently occupy each time slot. Between 1PM and 3PM you may have a block that is watched mainly by women and the elderly, so your aim is to put a show on that both of these viewers may like. It’s much easier than it sounds because the game sticks to stereotypes that don’t represent real life. If a character is part of the ‘lover’ category, just shove any romance film on and they’ll be happy. The same goes for ‘musicians’; regardless of the emo fringe and moody demeanour of the in-game character, he’ll be just as happy watching Grease as he would be if you put Graffiti Bridge in the same time slot.
The strangest choice of all with Empire TV’s schedule is the lack of actual TV shows to put on. Outside of Supermarket Sweep which is a mainstay throughout, the games focus is entirely on what movies will appeal to the masses, which is a strange choice for a game that sells itself on being a TV management sim. You can however bloat out your schedule with a plethora of adverts which are a great way to earn money. They do however come at a cost if you don’t achieve the target amount of viewers by an allocated time, so getting them in during peak times is recommended.
The different floors of the point and click tower offer ways of unlocking and upgrading things for your station. You can hire staff, such as marketing managers who can help improve watchers and scriptwriters for when you fancy dabbling in the film industry yourself, and if you’re strapped for cash you can visit the top floor to ask for a loan. Money never seems an issue though, and as long as you adhere to the games simple formula you can’t go wrong.
Money isn’t your main concern and the game focuses on making your station the most famous rather than the richest. When your scheduling needs that little something extra to spice up ratings you can dabble in the seedy underworld of pirate movies to purchase newer and usually higher quality films that attract more viewers. There’s also a focus on making your own titles, with the option to hire staff and stars to create new blockbusters which can then be entered into award ceremonies to boost your ratings.
The games tug of war dynamics are simple to adhere to and once you get into the swing of things you’ll have no problems toppling your rival stations. It’s made all the easier due to Empire TV not accounting for watershed, with any old movie being played at any time regardless of the content of the film. It’s disappointing not to be able to plan your schedule based on the age of the people watching, which would have given the game a degree of strategy to an otherwise easy venture.
Outside of the gameplay the constant spoofs on popular TV and movies grows old fast and the bombardment of quotes from the 90’s era films you’re forcing the population to watch begin to grow tiresome quickly. The game itself looks fine and plays just as well, but the tower can be a pain to move through, with a slow elevator and a character without a sense of urgency which leaves you anxiously rushing to different floors to complete tasks before key moments in your scheduling.
Empire TV Tycoon is a solid built but poorly executed management sim with little thought to real life values of a TV station. Its disregard for diversity and insistence on forcing reruns of old movies into your schedule are odd omissions that force the game to grow old quickly. Its core works just fine, but just like its schedule Empire TV is a shallow entry without enough top quality trimmings.
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