reviews\ Feb 21, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Mall Tycoon - PC - Review

It is a time-honored tradition, handed down from generation to generation. Ever since the concept of malls, it has been a place to congregate, to ‘hang out,’ and a focal point for shopping.

Some may have seen those malls that failed to cater to consumers for one reason or another. Perhaps a bigger mall moved in down the road; maybe the mix of stores is wrong; or perhaps just the general ambience does not attract consumers.

Well, if ever you have been shopping in a mall that seemed on the edge of closing and thought to yourself that if you were in charge, you could turn its fortunes around; or if you were frustrated because the local mall doesn’t have the stores you want, then Holistic Design and Take 2 Interactive has the game for you. It’s called Mall Tycoon, and it is a release for the PC.

There have been quite a number of ‘tycoon’ style games released in the past half-year, each with the overall object being to entertain and challenge. But there is a more insidious aspect to each of these games – and that is to provide a lesson in economics. It is easy just to throw out a bunch of money with little regard to profit. But that is exactly what the overall object is to this game – make money. Oh, and you need to provide the consumers with what they want, otherwise they will not spend money.

You begin the game by selecting either taking the tutorial (which you will find in the free play section of the main menu screen), playing a free-play game (no limits, just make a profit), or jump into a goal-oriented game in one of the 27 scenarios.

You will have to construct your mall, select from one of four store styles, lay the floor and build walls, put in entrances, and the general kiosks, flora, fountains, and benches for your shoppers. You can build upwards if you so desire, but even though you build upwards, you will have to lay flooring and walls for each level.

The game utilizes a drag-and-drop style of construction that makes it easy to build a mall. Once you have it stocked and decorated, throw open the doors and let the shoppers in.

You can fluctuate rent, demolish stores (actually the inventory goes first) that are not attracting attention, and research technologies to hire employees like janitors or press agents. You can also run promotions and take out advertising on various media.

The player interface has a short learning curve, and is well designed. Once you understand where all the components are, this program is a breeze to navigate through. Of course, do not confuse that with a program that is simple to win. This program does have several difficulty levels, and it will challenge most players, from the young to more experienced gamers. However, some of the more adept players may find this program is not as challenging as other programs in the genre.

And the graphical elements are not as strong as some of the other ‘tycoon’ style games. The animation is a little simple and repetitive. The game does have a camera that will zoom in and out, as well as rotate 360-degrees and move up and down a vertical plane. That really adds to the game, giving players the opportunity to see how each store is doing.

The game does have quite a wide range of elements that you can incorporate into your mall.

The audio portion of the program is merely average.

This program is rated for Everyone.

Mall Tycoon is a nice little program. While not overly complex, it still is entertaining.

Install: Easy
The game requires a PII 300 and DirectX 8.0 or higher as well as at least 300 megs of hard-drive space.

Gameplay: 7.5
The game can be paused for construction or reports, and when you open and run the mall, time moves quickly while you watch meters depicting customer numbers and income. The time format is fairly typical of this genre.

Graphics: 7.3
The close-up view reveals graphics that aren’t as well done as other games in the genre.

Sound: 6.8
The game does not feature that many effects.

Difficulty: 7.5
The learning curve is about 10-15 minutes (if you decide to forego reading the manual, and run quickly through the tutorial) to learn where everything is, and there are several difficulty levels.

Concept: 7.8
Building and running a mall is a nice touch. The game has been kept simple enough for young players to enjoy.

Multiplayer: N/A

Overall: 7.5
Mall Tycoon is, by no means, one of the strongest games in the genre, but it does have appeal and is very user-friendly.


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