Casino Inc. Review
By Simon Graves |
Countless games have been released over the past several years that promise players the chance to take control over various environments and locales, making businesses prosper, theme parks flourish, and if you're crazy enough, airports thrive. Konami Europe decided to delve into the relatively unexplored area of casino management in their latest effort, Casino Inc., which puts players in charge of their very own casino; with the ability to manage several casinos within the city at once, players get a real sense of the casino life during the 1970s. By combining a cartoon like theme along with mature content, Casino Inc. succeeds on delivering on several levels; comic relief mixed with serious issues makes for one fun game. Ladies and gentlemen, let's build a casino.
The game's high production values are immediately apparent through the highly polished menus and pre rendered movies before and throughout the game. Upon completion of various tasks players are rewarded with little movies that are usually funny in nature. But before anyone jumps right into the game it's highly advisable to take the game's extremely helpful and well designed tutorial. The tutorials cover every aspect of the game including building gambling attractions, hiring staff, arranging transportation to your casino, buying real estate and advertising, and even hiring cheats and troublemakers to cause mayhem in your rivals' casinos. Once you've learned the basic idea of managing a casino, you can jump right in.
There are three cities that the player can choose to build casinos in: Little Hope Springs, Fortune Falls, and Chancersville. Hope Springs offers the player the least amount of difficulty in regards to competition and all around complexity in managing the casino. Chancersville offers the greatest challenge of all, keeping the players on their toes at all times.
The basic idea of Casino Inc. is to build a casino that is far superior to all your competitors, while at the same time doing your best to drive them out of business. This is the '70s folks, a time where Mob Rule dictated how casinos were run. There is no Mr. Nice Guy. It's your job to make sure your casino is the best of the best, and if that means sending cheating players to steal from your competitors, or hiring muscle to go pound on guests in competing casinos, then that's what is going to have to be done. The game revolves a fair amount around the reputation that you earn throughout the town. If your floormen are blind and cheating is tolerated, the town will know, and cheaters will be flocking to your casino. If your security is lax and fights are constantly taking place, your casino will attract the trash of the town, causing a disturbance to your other loyal patrons.
All this would be dull had the developers not taken the time to ensure that every aspect of this management was fun. If a floorman spots someone cheating you will be notified, and can take several courses of action. You may choose to have your security guard simply escort the cheater off the premises, or you can have your bouncer "discipline" the cheater, thereby taking them to the basement and kicking the crap out of them. This game makes no effort to sugarcoat anything, including the escorts that you can hire for the lonely businessmen visiting for the weekend. However, if your employees feel like they're unappreciated, they may begin to demand a pay raise, or even in an extreme situation, begin to steal from you. Well, we know what the bouncer might have to say about that
Managing a casino can't always be fun. The powers to be want to ensure that everything is running smoothly so they can still make their house payments and government kickbacks. You need to make your casino unique - stand out from the rest - and make sure people are visiting you and not the competition. While all this micromanagement could prove to be a curse in an otherwise polished game, the developers managed to integrate a very helpful interface that makes organizing every aspect of the game quite simple. If at any time you are required to quickly find a bouncer, simply click on the "find nearest employee" icon on the side and there he'll be. The controls take about an hour to master, and after that, it's a breeze to navigate the menus.
It's imperative to have a good staff on hand, because sometimes people just don't want to co-operate. Take for example the 3rd floor of my casino earlier today. Two hooligans were giving a dealer a tough time at the blackjack tables. The tension was growing and finally amounted in a fistfight between the dealer and the two ruffians. After alerting the bouncers of the disturbance they were escorted to the basement where they promptly received a beating with a crowbar. After lying unconscious on the floor for several minutes, they both offered their services to the casino. They offered to travel to competing casinos to aggravate patrons in the hopes of driving them to a friendlier environment, like, say, my casino.
The game is constantly prompting the player with new challenges to ensure that one never gets bored and always has something to do. For example, several hours into the game, the player is required to obtain a 64% market share of casino attendance in the city. In order to accomplish this you must make your casino more appealing than the rest by having unique themes and a friendly staff. This might mean forking out the extra cash for a "5-Star" staff, but in the end, it's worthwhile. While the most expensive employees may take a bigger bite out of the casino's earnings, generally they are more effective in making patrons happy and keeping the casino running smoothly. Even if they become unhappy and demand a pay raise, the effect it will have on the casino's earnings in minimal: you'll be making so much money from the increased gambling traffic that you'll be more than happy to give your hookers a 100% raise. Hey, they're worth it.