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Tycoon City: New York is the equivalent of watching your favorite baseball player try to steal home plate, with a tie game and two outs in the ninth, only to get thrown out. There's a lot of initial excitement then suddenly, "game over". Tycoon City: New York showed a lot of promise when it hit store shelves in early 2006. Initially it looks like the game scores a home run, but after a few hours you ask the ultimate question that tycoon gamers should never have to ask: "Where's the challenge?" And as you are aware, any game without challenge is a strike out.
After installing Tycoon City: New York and starting it up, you're asked to enter your name. I was tempted to enter "Donald Trump" but opted for "Joe Tracy" instead as I wanted to feel that in fantasy land, I can give Donald Trump a run for his money. Once you enter your name, you can select a picture to represent you or upload your own picture into the game (nice touch). So far so good. You're then presented with the option to Build New York or enter into Sandbox mode. If building New York was any bit of a challenge, then Sandbox mode would be welcome. However, in the case of Tycoon City: New York, it is virtually impossible to lose the game, even if you just build the same fast food place over and over and over and over. When a game gets too repetitive, the challenge and fun quickly disappear.
The elements involved in the playing of Tycoon City: New York are as follows:
Where Tycoon City: New York shines is in the graphics and you get the first taste of this after you click "Build New York" and accept the tutorial. The camera zooms in on a Row House right onto a man named Luco. Luco talks you through the process of playing in a well designed, interesting, and personable tutorial. From there you get to start building to meet the needs of New Yorkers. At first this process is extremely fun, although your upgrade abilities are limited. Soon, however, the process becomes extremely tedious. Build. Upgrade. Build. Upgrade. Build. Upgrade. The only thing keeping you from going crazy are Opportunities that usually present you with something new to do (like build a stage in Washington Park for a Punk concert that you get to watch when successful). The Opportunities keep you from pulling your hair out, except when you get one that says "find a female artist and click on her." Soon you find yourself fast clicking on tons of people coming out of the subway until the game says you succeeded. Worse, there was no purpose for you clicking on her.
New York is split into districts. You start by simply building Greenwich Village. Once you've built most of it, you get another district and so forth. The problem with the game is that some of these districts are huge and when you've completed the Opportunities (because you're bored of Build, Upgrade, Build, Upgrade, etc.) you still have to fill in the majority of open land before a new district will open to you. And after you complete the first three districts and get to ones three times the size of the ones you've been playing (like East Village), you quickly become both bored and frustrated.
What does work well with the game, however, is the opportunity to build out a parade route then watch a parade (like the Chinese New Year parade, Greenwich Village Halloween march, or Tickertape Parade in your honor). Also great is when the game has you tackle a task like taking a no name group and getting them booked in Washington Square where they become popular and you get to watch them perform. The news casts add definite interest to the game when you accomplish major goals. TC24 newscaster Darlene Delaney provides live TV reports, but the game gives you a view of this reporter's life just before and after the camera rolls. My favorite is at Chelsea Piers when the cameraman is feeling "ill" from eating day-old Sushi. When the report on Chelsea Piers ends, Darlene comments to the cameraman that he is foaming at the mouth and tells him that he "looks like a Yankee fan after a Yankees loss to the Red Sox." In addition, some businesses (very few), like the Super Car Showroom, allow you to upgrade the inside, which is a nice change from the hundreds of continual outside upgrades you are doing.
Are these additional interest elements enough to overcome the whole gameplay issue? Unfortunately, no. But if the gameplay was drastically improved, then these elements would make the game much more enjoyable.
I think Atari was surprised by the lukewarm welcome Tycoon City: New York received when it was released. As someone who covers the Tycoon game industry regularly, I can speak as to the problems of grabbing initial interest:
Here's what I would have done to make Tycoon City: New York the success it could have been:
In conclusion, Tycoon City: New York is a game that had and has a lot of potential. The fun factor and replay value are very low, but the graphics and some in-game concepts (news broadcasts, opportunities, graphics) hit the mark. With some tweaks and a better focus on gameplay, this could be a dominate Tycoon series in the marketplace. As such we give Tycoon City: New York a review rating of 7 out of 10.
» Even though I completed every single Opportunity, I was still 95 landmark bonds short in order to build all the New York landmarks. Apparently you must also get a population of more than 50,000 and over $30 million to get all the remaining Bond Points. But the game can end before you accomplish this. My game ended with a population of 41,000 New Yorkers and I had over $318 million (yes, million) dollars.
One final note, the "ending" of Tycoon City: New York is not nearly as personalized, long, or rewarding as it should be. Perhaps they should have saved the parade in your honor until the end and then had a fireworks show in your honor at the site of the Statue of Liberty.
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