A little Capitalism and a little Transport Tycoon add up to a lot of pain.
When you think of strategy games on the PC you usually think of MicroProse, but over the last couple of years Interactive Magic has done more for strategy gamers than most of its competitors.
Industry Giant is I-Magic’s most recent strategy game. Originally released in Germany during 1997, it contains elements of both Transport Tycoon and Capitalism in it, but doesn’t really match up to either.
You can play the game in two different modes–a campaign of progressively more difficult scenarios with limited objectives, or in free-form mode, where you can customize the number of your competitors, the amount of resources and land on the map, and elements such as the starting date or your initial amount of cash.
There’s also a nifty map editor included that allows you to hand-edit your own map, including the placement of cities, industries, and other resources. This does give the game some good replay value, as users can create and exchange maps of different real-world locations. But all the replay value in the world can’t help a game that is so much of a chore to play.
At first glance, the game looks a lot like Transport Tycoon. Its isometric look, with four different angles, and the way the game names the stations and cities, is identical to Transport Tycoon. You also set up routes for trucks, trains and the like in a very familiar manner. In fact, there is so much resemblance between the way Transport Tycoon looks and the way Industry Giant looks that when the demo was released, Interactive Magic ended up fielding questions from game writers wondering if this was the Transport Tycoon engine or a sequel from Transport’s original creator. But it’s not; it’s an all new engine from a different developer.
Essentially, your mission is to link an independent resource provider–steel mill, gold mine, lumber mill–with one of your factories. With your factory in place, you then choose to build one retail item, then set up a new transportation route between your factory and your retail outlet. Both the factory and the retail outlet can only handle one product at a time.
This is different from a Transport Tycoon or a Railroad Tycoon because you’re not earning money by providing transportation routes for carrying someone else’s goods–you earn money by selling products at retail. (Though in the real world, most companies do not own their own factories, retail outlets and at the same time operate their own transportation lines.)
But because earning money is done at retail, Industry Giant is more akin to the earlier Interactive Magic title Capitalism than anything else. However it is a very trimmed, down “lite” version of Capitalism. For example, in Capitalism, your factories are relatively complex buildings that can produce a variety of products, Capitalism’s and retail outlets can sell up to four. In Industry Giant, it’s one factory, one product, and each store can also sell only one item. This brevity really limits the amount of strategy you’ll employ in the game.
There are other shortcomings attributable to the game’s lack of depth. Capitalism has a stock market; Industry Giant does not. Selling products in Capitalism is extremely competitive–branding is important, what competitors are doing matters, you can price a product right down to a cent. Products also have quality ratings, and you need to do Research & Development in order to discover new products.
In Industry Giant, you can sell a product at a default price, or higher or lower by up to 20%. Branding, competition and R&D; are all ignored. You can increase demand for a product through advertising campaigns, and you may also build city improvements–stadiums and culture centers–that draw more people into the towns, and so expand the market that way.
Controlling the transportation routes can be a little tricky, especially with the trucks, who will frequently lock up in traffic jams because one truck is waiting for products–products that cannot be built
So in a nutshell, Industry Giant is an extremely stripped down version of Capitalism with a thin veneer of Transport Tycoon–yes you have the ability to create transportation networks, but not earn money from them or manage them in any way. This is ultimately an unsatisfying thin and somewhat repetitive strategy game.
So if you want to run a transportation company, play Railroad Tycoon or Transport Tycoon. If you want to run a manufacturing and retailing business, try Capitalism. If you want an unsatisfying mish-mash of both, Industry Giant is available.