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Tabloid Tycoon, by Valusoft, is a tycoon game in which you become a big media publisher, like The National Enquirer, and take on the duties of building your empire based on reporting bizarre stories. The game is interesting when you first start, but very quickly becomes extremely repetitive with no true "action" happening on screen. You simply click options, click next, then repeat the same process. The game starts to get boring real quick.
To add insult to injury, Valusoft decided to release Tabloid Tycoon without a manual! Sure, when you look at the files, you'll see one called "manual," but a manual it is not. It is only a simple installation sheet. Valusoft is trampling on the needs and desires of its potential userbase by making sure they don't have information they need to make the game more fun and gameplay more enjoyable.
To its credit, Valusoft does offer a series of very short in-game tutorials, but these hardly cover all the bases of the game. Valusoft also forgot to tag label some of the important icons on the user interface, thus if you didn't write down what they meant in the tutorial (or didn't do the tutorial) then you'll be staring at a picture of a face with a number and a crown with a number and have no idea what either one means since mousing over doesn't bring up a text prompt telling you what it is.
In Tabloid Tycoon, you manage a National Enquirer type paper. You hire reporters and photographers and assign them to stories. You have one week to investigate leads before you have to "assemble" your issue for publication. On the main in-game screen you select from several options - staff management, investigation, awards, store, archives, lawyer cases, company info, and public relations. You have to wonder where the creators of the game went to school because for Public Relations you have two options - launch an espionage attack on one of your competitors or try to sabotage one of your competitors. I have a degree in Public Relations and funny thing... none of those two subjects were taught to me. But I digress as the game rating speaks for itself.
When you start the game you can select from Enterprise Mode, Scenario Mode, Free Play Mode, or Tutorial. Enterprise Mode is like Free Play Mode except that you have objectives to fulfill and every time you fulfill a set of objectives, you are given the exact same list of objectives, except with more difficult requirements (i.e. have to double subscriptions from the first set of objectives you had). Scenario mode has about 10 different scenarios you can complete ranging in difficulty (Easy, Normal, Hard). When you complete a scenario, you just get a "congratulations" pop up window. No check appears next to the scenario showing that you've completed it. Most Tycoon games do show you what scenarios you've successfully completed, so Tabloid Tycoon is a little behind the times.
There is really only one area where Tabloid Tycoon succeeds. And that is that the game includes a "Story Creator". This story creator allows you to create your own tabloid headlines, stories, and even upload your own photos. It really provides an excellent personalization interactive option to the game and is the reason I've given the game a 4 out of 10 rating instead of a 2 out of 10 rating. There is a fun element to creating your own story, then seeing it pop up in the game where you can assign a reporter and photographer to investigate it. I would have given the game a 5 out of 10 rating if they had included a real manual - even one just on the CD.
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