“ Developer: ValuSoft / Type: RTS „
Over the last couple of years the quality of PC games has really declined. Most new releases are either sequels of tried and tested formats or new games, which play exactly the same as the older, tried and tested ones. As a result I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Eco Tycoon Project Green in Game for a mere £9.99.
The game was released in 2009 but I've only just come across it, and decided it was worth a punt as I had been a fan of some of the tycoon style games in the past. Although by the looks of things it is based on the old "tycoon" style of game, I thought that the idea of putting the player in charge of climate change was a unique little twist on the genre, and may breathe new life into the series. So home I went and to give it a go.
Installation of the game is very straightforward as usual. Simply place the CD into the drive and follow the onscreen instructions. It has a rating of 3+, making it suitable for anyone over the age of 3. The requirements for the game should be well within scope for most modern computers with a 2GHz processor, 512MB of RAM and 500MB hard drive space being needed. Bizarrely the box also states a mouse and keyboard are required, however I'm not really sure how you operate a computer without these things - On reflection this should have acted as a warning for me! You don't need the disc in the drive to run the game once it is installed. Slightly annoyingly there is no instruction booklet with this game, with a very basic help file being included on the disc, but I really wouldn't waste any time looking at it, as it is no help whatsoever.
So the game is installed, you have no idea what to do as there are no instructions, what could possibly go wrong with this game? It is advised that you follow the tutorial first, which takes you through the various steps and concepts of the game. I did this and still had no idea what the hell was going on! I will try and give a basic overview of what the game play is like now. The basic idea of the game is a simple one, and on the face of it, quite a novel and interesting one. You simply take control of one of the seven continents and you are then charged with running it, making it prosperous whilst ensuring that the economy is eco-friendly and hitting United Nation set targets. You do this by introducing different government policies such as developing green public transport and moving away from fossil fuels to renewable sources such as solar or nuclear. This all sounds pretty simple, and with a little more thought and application from the game's developers it would have been. You have to ensure that your popularity stays high as each of your decisions will result in positive or negative responses, so as well as hitting your targets, you have to keep your economy strong, and if your popularity falls to low, you are voted out of office and the game ends. Natural disasters are a constant worry, and these too will have an effect on carbon targets and the economy.
Now as I said, I don't really have a problem with the concept, and in fact I think it is a very good concept, and one that in theory could have made for quite an enjoyable and educational game. However there are many, many problems with the game that make it virtually unplayable. If I listed all of the issues my review would be many thousands of words long, so I will simply state a few of the major ones that really spoil it.
Firstly, the game is all based upon targets, form economic targets, popularity targets to carbon targets. Now this wouldn't be a problem, except that in their infinite wisdom, the writers have decided that all of this will be represented in graphical form. There are literally tens of different graphs, all of which have to be interpreted, and reviewed before and after making any small decision to see what effects have transpired. This makes the game play seem more like an advanced applied mathematics lesson rather than something that should be fun. You soon get fed up with all of this and it becomes more of a chore, giving the game a very limited shelf life.
Next problem is that quite often you find that there is no way to win. It seems like no matter what decision you make, whether one to boost the economy at the environments cost or vice-versa, the same results occur. It is very easy to get voted out, and the game ends. This might be true to life as governments often have to take unpopular decisions for the greater good, but it doesn't make for a good computer game. In addition as it is so irritating you are not particularly inclined to give it another go.
Final major problem is linked to some degree to the previous one. You have several advisors who pop up from time to time to offer you some "useful" advice. However if you choose to take this advice, they quite often pop up again a few minutes later suggestion you take the opposite course. Again this just gets frustrating and spoils everything.
So the game play is annoyingly flawed and irritating, surely the look of this game will start to make up for it? Well frankly no, the graphics are very blocky and clumsy, slightly reminiscent of the very first Command and Conquer game back in the 90's for those that remember it. There is no excuse for this and even the actual quality of the individual buildings is rubbish. The graphs all look very nice, but nothing you couldn't knock up with a few minutes on Excel, and the advisers all look like Spitting Image style puppets. All in all yet another disappointment with the game.
The sound quality isn't too bad to be honest. It's a little annoying after a while, but no more so than any other game, but it is a case of too little too late to rescue this game at this stage.
So to sum this one up, simply one word - AVOID. A very unique and potentially interesting concept has been well and truly butchered by very poor game play. Its so badly designed and implemented I will be very impressed if you give this more than one or two goes before giving up on it. I tried persevering with it for a while, but later regretted it as I will never get those hours of my life back, and so I would describe this as possibly the worst game that I have ever played on any format.
Thanks for reading this and this review may appear on Ciao under my same username.