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Airport management sims over the last five years or so have been few and far between. The only ones recently that have comes close is Airline Tycoon by Infogrames Deutschland. Although not a bad game, it does have limited scope. In Airport Inc you have many features which include:
Installation And Settings
Installation was a simple matter of putting the disc in and letting it do its stuff. As soon as you have decided what language you want to play the game in you are ready to start. Before the actual game starts itself though you have to decide what graphics card, driver device and screen size you wish to use. After you have clicked OK you are then launched into the game where you can tweak other option like graphical detail, Hazards on and other bits and pieces.
The graphics in this game are not to bad, but just because it uses a 3D card don't expect to see graphics like that in Quake III or Unreal Tournament. The game runs in 640 x 480, but on saying that it doesn't look to bad. The standard device to run the game is Direct3D which runs quickly and gives a good performance.
A few annoyances is that while watching the game you don't see as much detail in the characters walking around as are about in other games. For example, in Age of Empires you can see the people chopping down the wood or carrying the food to the Granary, but sadly at the moment some details have been left out. When the plane lands and goes to where it is going to drop off the passengers (normally by the terminal building) you can see the stairs and the luggage holders move towards the plane, but they don't actually go right up to the place, just sit close by. It would have been a nice touch to actually see the stairs connect to the place and see people walk off it. You can also sometimes notice that vehicles overlap slightly, with say the refueling truck going through the baggage holder.
With the 3D walk-around camera the graphics are average. The characters that walk around are very flat with monotonous impressions, but that isn't something that is to concerning because I don't think it is a feature that is used much, just nice to have. The only other downside to the walk-around camera is that you can not control where the passenger is going or which passenger it is.
The sound in the game is quite good. When you zoom in on the airport you are building the sound gets louder if you are zooming in on a place. Also when you use the Control Tower camera you hear transmissions between the planes and the control tower. It might not be the actual planes that are flying into the airport, but it is a nice touch to add to the game. Sometimes I did find though that when new messages came through on your pager (I will go into more details about what the pager does later on) the bleep didn't always happen, which can be annoying because you are usually to busy trying to sort out where to build something or are adding something to the airport.
With Airport Inc. you get to choose which city and what continent you wish to start your airport on. Once the city has been chosen you then get to decide how far away from the city you would like to build the airport. If you choose to close to the city then you might have problems with high rise buildings, to far away and no one will want to travel all the way to your airport. The other deciding factor is the cost. The closer to the city, the more expensive the land. You only have $20mill to play with and an overdraft limit of $10mill. Although this does seem a lot it can decrease very quickly.
As soon as the location has been decided you then have to think of how much land you actually want. Do you go for a lot of land so you have loads of room for expansion later on, or start small and work your way up. Starting small will save you money, but there is always a chance that someone else will buy up the land that you had your eye on. Luckily they have added an Option land feature where for a nominal fee each month you can have first refusal on the said land. As soon as you have decided what land you want you move onto the fun part, the building phase.
The best way to do this part is to think ahead. One of the first decisions you have to make is what size terminal to build and where. On Easy mode you only get to choose from the prefabricated terminal buildings, but as you move up to Medium and Hard you can build the terminal from scratch. Once you actually see the amount of stuff that goes into the terminal buildings, it seems a bit daunting to actually build the whole thing from scratch, mainly because there is a very high chance that you will forget to add something or put a certain area in the wrong place, for example the security area.
The building of the rest of the airport follows the same pattern as the terminal building, think ahead, choose the item you want to build and build it. All the building is done through menus, but some of them can be slightly annoying. If you want to add more check out desks you have to click a button to choose the area you want to build in, find the item, and then place the item. It really helps to learn what items live in what section or else you might be spending ages looking for that set of photo booths or lockers.
As soon as you have the basic items a message box comes up saying that your Airport is ok. This usually means that you can open your airport and watch the contracts come in.
The contracts are the best source of money you have and it is usually a good idea to treat the airlines quite well or else they may not renew their contracts which could mean losses of millions of dollars a year. I did find though that sometimes retailers complain about things when they don't have anything to complain about. For example you will get a message about the Hotels saying they are not getting enough customers, and then straight afterwards they will say that all the rooms are full. With the airline contracts you might find that some of the airlines wish to have their own check in desks or cargo holders. They will not send you any flights until you have met their criteria. With the Administration building in place you are also able to see what companies were interested in flying to your airport, but didn't because of missing criteria, whether it is no short stay car park or no taxi rank.
If you get bored just building your airport there are a few scenarios provided to keep you going. these are a good way to see how to get the most out of the facilities given to you. You will find that you will turn to the scenarios a lot because of how terrible the tutorial is. The tutorial is more of a walk through on how to buy the land and a bit on how to build the airport. The interactivity isn't there which is a shame and only scrapes the surface of how to build the items you have in your arsenal.
Over all the gameplay is quite good and the game because addictive, but there are a few bugs that need to be ironed out. Krisalis are suppose to be working on a patch to fix these things.
This game is an addictive game that keeps you want to come back for more. Although there are a few bugs, the patch will hopefully fix these things. Although the graphics are not something to drop your jaw about, you can forgive it due to the gameplay and in depth playability of the game