Out of the blue a CD pops through the door from Take 2. Thinking “hmm wonder what this could be”, the packet was ravaged open. Inside was a CD for a game called Airport Inc. The name rang a bell but couldn’t pin-point where I had seen it. It then dawned on me that this was the Airport management sim I thought looked pretty tasty a while back. “Airport management sim?” I hear you cry.
What we have here is a complete simulation of on an airport and it’s workings, everything from flight schedules to designing your terminal!The introduction to game is pretty simple looking, nothing to flashy at all, until you realise the whole game is in 3D! Yep, you heard me right a sim game in full 3D! sim games always sell well, you just have to look at the success of games like Sim City 3000 which was the top grossing game of last year in the US. One thing that’s lacking in sim games these days is the level of interactivity you have with your creation.
All that is about to change thanks to the Airport Inc developer, Krisalis, who have come up with something that little bit special.Like every mad gamer the manual is never the first thing you turn to when a new game is fired up, it’s straight to the start game button to try and figure it out for yourself. Be warned in this case, Airport Inc has a steep learning curve to start, watch the tutorial don’t just go diving in head first.The training is well presented, instead of just popping up guide boxes you are shown a complete rolling demo of how to get started allowing you to sit back, relax get a cup of tea and enjoy the show while flicking through the manual.Before you can start messing around with aircraft and cargo you have to choose a location for you airport. Krisalis have decided that just giving you a map to start your building is not enough, they want you to choose which Continent, city and how far away your land will be from the main city you have chosen.
The closer to the city the more expensive your land so be a wary although it makes sense to be closer it might cause you to hit that overdraft limit a little too early and put you out of the game.There are 3 modes of gameplay, easy, medium and hard. Easy gives the player a load of prefab ready made buildings to start the game with, more on that in a minute. Medium makes things a little harder, less help and prefabs and the difficult setting. just gives you the minimum to startThe game designers have put h** of a lot thought into this game. Not being satisfied with giving the game player just the option to place buildings and off you go, they have gone one step further and given the game player the option to design the layout of the whole terminal interior, from check-in desks to security checks, it’s all at your finger tips, awesome stuff! If you start on easy your terminal is a prefab so all this is already done for you. This is a good way to learn how an Airport should be set out before you tackle the harder levels of the game.
The game is mainly mouse driven although a few handy hot-keys are on hand to make looking round the airport that bit easier. Keys can be a*igned for zooming and map rotating, this made things a lot easier when you need to get to a spot quickly. The interface runs along the top of the screen (you can drag it to the bottom if prefered) and it’s basicly a point and click affair with sub-screens to choose your buildings/items you want to place.So what do you have to do then? Firstly once you have placed the building like your runway, taxiways control tower etc and your terminal is looking good to go it’s time to start he clock. The game only starts once you have placed everything where you want it. The player starts the clock and the real game begins. To make sure the bank balance stays healthy it is up to your Admin Centre to bring in the lucrative contracts to keep your airport afloat. After a period of time a small bleep signifies your first contract is ready to negociate. The player decides what charges should be placed on an Airline for using the airport as a destination. You can either accepts the terms they offer (usually less that the set rate for your airport) or re-negotiate the deal.
If you re-negociate to often the airline will pull out altogether so this is where you have to be a shrewd business person.Contracts are signed for a number of years after which you can renegotiate or terminate a contract with the airline depending on what hey offer. This also applies for airport services like fuel providers an caters which you will have to make deals with to make sure your airport has the best facilities possible.You airport grows and expands as more contracts/airlines use you as a destination allowing you to provide and build better facilities like rail, bus and taxi links into the city which in turn brings more passengers and more money into your airport. This all sounds very easy but believe me it isn’t after about 7 games I managed to keep my airport bank balance healthy. If your bank balance goes -10,000 that’s it game over, time to start again.There is also an airport World ranking which you can check to see how well you are performing against the other airports, the object being to make it to the top spot with as few hiccups as possible.
All standard airport problems appear from security issues like bombs on planes, crashes etc so you have to make sure all these problems have a solution like police station and fire stations should a disaster happen. Weather conditions also change dependning on where your airport is situated globally. It’s up to you, the airport administrator, whether to shut down runways should the weather get that little bit too rough. Oh and if you want to cause a mad-panic why not evacuate the airport terminal!.Airport Inc has some amazing detail, the graphics look great in their full 3D splendour, seeing planes land and taxi round the airport is great to watch. Once planes land and pull into a terminal, the aprons spring to life with refueling trucks and baggage handlers servicing the aircraft, fantastic stuff.It doesn’t stop there folks! Krisalis have also added different camera views. You have the option to go into the control tower, watch and listen in and even walk round the inside of your airport with the other passengers as they go about their business.The game uses Glide to produce some great graphics so there should be no problems with most 3D cards. The airport is fully 360 degree rotatable and you can zoom in and out to get right in there with the action. All aircraft, passengers, vehicles are in full 3D to add that extra bit of realism to the game. As you r airport expnds there is a handy mao that you can pop up to see the bigger picture.To help the player out with identify building as your airport gets larger you can change the colours of buildings to anything you want. For example I have a few aircraft servicing buildings so I made them all yellow, that way I could see exactly how many I had and whether or not I needed more depending on what traffic my airport was doing.To put it mildly this is a corker!
The only thing I wouild say is it may be a bit hard to start but stick with it, we haven’t been able to put the game down at all. Great graphics, a fully immersive gameplaying experience and a control system that’s easy to master. If there is one sim game we could recommend at the moment it’s Airport Inc. Get it now!