Industry Giant Review
By Chris Commodore |
Even before you start playing Industry Giant, there's a lot working against it. Well, looking beyond the fact that the game was originally shipped in October of '97 in Germany as Der Industriegigant (and of course Industry Giant here in the States), there are a few other little clues. For example, upon setup, you are prompted with a window that asks which processor you have, and it gives you three choices: 386, 486, or Pentium -- which is...interesting. And, of course, there's the fact that this is a "re-release." I can't immediately think of any other game that's been re-released three years after its initial release, which gives some credibility to the idea that the practice is bizarre, if not even a bit foolish, considering JoWood's reputation is somewhat at stake. So, you're essentially left with a title that still possesses decent, though difficult to learn, gameplay and seriously outdated graphics but only costs a fraction of a new release.
If you've never played a Business Sim game, here's the lowdown: You are an entrepreneur with some venture capital (cash), and you must spend that cash on factories, trucks, trains and airplanes to move your goods, and stores to sell them in. In essence, you are responsible for micromanaging every level and layer of a corporation. And, instead of battling Diablo in on a lake of fire, fighting off the ravaging hordes of the great Mongolian empire, or rescuing horses with Barbie, you greedily scramble for cash and hostile-merger your foes just for the satisfaction of being able to "Boo-Ya!" your fellow board members in front of your opponents at the morning company meeting.
Graphically, well, Industry Giant didn't look that hot three years ago. Based on today's standards, it looks like it was ported from Gameboy Color. Colors look washed out, and resolution is as jaggy as an Oregon beach. Sometimes, the poor graphics are a bit of a novelty, however, particularly the grainy, low-resolution shots of your geeky corporate foes. But, as any Sim fan can tell you it isn't the graphics that make the game, it's the content.
The content is here, for the most part. The AI is excellent, and the opponents can be downright nasty. The in-game features regarding supply and demand feel accurate. Most of all, Industry Giant is a micromanagers dream, letting you become the power-mongering evil CEO that you always dreamed of being. You can build any sort of structure that your corporation needs, and the great number of products allow you to specialize in whichever goods you like. In this sense, JoWood has shown a high degree of competency with design.
Bizarrely, despite the attention paid to accurately modeling economic scenarios, even the brightest, most dedicated enthusiasts of the genre will have an extremely hard time even learning to play Industry Giant. The tutorial is almost worthless -- all it does is explain the buttons -- and the manual is skimpy. If playing the game weren't so unforgivably grating on the nerves and patience, players would notice and appreciate all of the complex and favorable elements of the game...such as AI, economic detail, and corporate management.
The sound effects and music in Industry Giant are, well, bad. So bad, in fact, that I've ranked them a staggering second place in my list of the all time worst, only just falling short of the now legendary and hellishly tormenting Swamp Buggy Racing for the coveted top seat. The music is a cross between EuroPop and hotel lobby Muzak. They'll have you swearing like a Frat boy at your speakers.
So, one of the great mysteries of the universe will remain the question of why anyone green-lighted the re-release of Industry Giant. Was there a powerful consumer demand for the title, and a lack of copies from the first publication? This is all troubling because it only dredges up an ugly reminder to the public about Industry Giant, which only hurts a European developer that has actually displayed some promise. No, the best question I have, and one that jumped right to my tongue the moment I installed Industry Giant, remains..."Is this a joke?" If it is, it's certainly in poor taste, or the humor is the kind you find in 80's British Sitcoms and is over my Simpson's infatuated head. What seems most likely is they knew people would buy it
Despite the fact that Industry Giant still retains some distinguishing characteristics, the quality of the title has not improved, even in re-release, since its first production. It's not a big surprise -- most of their efforts have gone into creating a great sequel, and pouring money into a 3 year old game would be doubly foolish -- but I still would have liked to have seen at least a few new features. Is it a waste of money? For most people, probably, but for the few that know they love Business Sims and are willing to put up with some design issues just to get their hands on one of the few examples of the genre still left around, then it will fit them well. Even a JoWood representative admitted that there's "Basically no difference", and that this Industry Giant is intended as a budget title and as an introduction to the series. Certainly, the game which appears much more promising is JoWood's Industry Giant 2 -- which has the distinct advantage of using technology that's brand new and not three years old -- and people would be much better off just waiting for its release at the end of this year rather than laying down 15 bucks for this shamelessly retro economic Sim experience.
-- Erik Peterson
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