Sometimes games can keep us interested years after release, gathering enough attention to warrant remasters and various ports. Other times, games can appear on our store without the slightest knowledge they were coming, and then stick out like a sore thumb despite no one asking for them to be there. Industry Giant 2 is one such game.
But unlike some of the other ports and remasters we’ve seen hit the shelves in 2016, Industry Giant 2 isn’t a title that many of you will have played in recent years. No, this is a game that originally hit stores back in 2002. Fourteen years later though, we are being given the chance to experience this appraised tycoon game once more on our Xbox One. But is it deserving of a place in the current generation, or is it something we could have ended the year without?
Whilst many may turn their heads in horror at the thought of a game based around statistics and business management, I for one am not found in that crowd of individuals. In fact, over the years I’ve spent several hundred hours with the tycoon games that have come and gone – but upon loading into this game for the first time, and setting myself up in one of the many industrial areas, one thing struck me very quickly – this was not a game that had been optimised for Xbox One in any way.
Before I let my thoughts known on this issue, let me tell you a bit about what we have though. 2002 was a long time ago after all. Industry Giant 2, unlike most city builders, puts the player in charge of an American business at the dawn of the 20th century. Through trade and a firm understanding of the economy, players set out on a path from the humble beginnings of their first industrial production facility, to the far reaches of state of the art, age of information technology. After taking over from the super-entrepreneur before you, players must manage every aspect of their business production cycle, from acquiring resources, to the processing of raw materials into marketable products and indeed the sales and logistics that follow.
In order to ensure all this is achievable, players are given a set amount of funds – the amount dependant on the difficulty setting chosen – and are expected to build and manage various different production plants, in order to maintain a positive cashflow. There are various production facilities available to build in order to produce the varying things of need. These range from furniture shops to farms, supermarkets to vehicle factories and many more in between. Of course, those that go in sparing no expense will certainly find themselves, much like I did, with a quickly deflated bank balance – after all, what good is splashing the cash on luxurious food outlets if you don’t have the food to sell. And what good is selling furniture, if you don’t have the wood cut and prepared to make it, or the customers to sell it to.
Of course, this wouldn’t be so hard if there wasn’t the potential of stock market crashes, oil crises and competition, but hey, if you’re a successful tycoon, what’s a little challenge right?
A lengthy tutorial process is on hand for those looking to learn the ins and outs of how to start in the world. This isn’t the most enjoyable experience though, with tedious texts appearing one after the other. With the dated graphics constantly in your face this can make the tutorial feel like nothing more than a chore, and after all, the fun comes from learning your own way right? – Not quite.
I’m guessing by this point there will be several of you looking at this with blank faces, but for those of you who read those words carefully, you’ll understand that a game such as Industry Giant 2, like many other city management sims, is a game that involves lots of menus, lots of options and a staggering amount of choices on how to play the game.
With mouse and keyboard this is no real hardship as just a few mouse clicks and you’re away, breezing through the various menus at a healthy pace. The Xbox One controller is quite a different kettle of fish, and even though there are a decent number of buttons available that could have been configured to different menus, the development team obviously didn’t think about ensuring this was a smooth game to play. In fact, even though the gameplay aspect offers a heavily in-depth management title, the controls make it truly horrible to play.
From the very first moment it’s obvious that there has been no changes made whatsoever to Industry Giant 2 since its original release back in 2002; from the clunky menus, to the terribly oversized U.I., and all the floppy disc icons along the way. Although this wouldn’t usually be an issue, the gameplay is just as lacking in any modernisation.
Placing the different buildings is something that you will be doing a lot, but with the movement and zoom combined in a horrible way on the same stick, simply traversing the mapped area can feel daunting. Another issue is that the different menu selection buttons are so close together that more often than not you will find yourself buying the wrong building, with no chance of a refund, simply because you couldn’t get the right building you’re after. On top of this, text within the game is much too difficult to read, and even with a nice new supersized TV, I found myself straining just to ensure I knew what it was I was agreeing too.
It may seem slightly harsh to condemn a game for horrible controls, but those who are used to management sims will agree that fluid controls can be what makes or breaks a game. Unfortunately, Industry Giant 2 mixes outdated design choices with horrendous controls in a game that requires a lot of effort to get right in the first place, making it more of a chore than it ever should be.
For those willing to look past the torridity and try to persevere with this game, then solo isn’t the only way to make or break it on the path to success. Should you have managed to master the daily business that is expected of you, then there is the option to change things up a bit and add in some friendly, or not so friendly, competition to put the pressure on each of those decision-making moments.
Industry Giant 2 was certainly no stranger to success with the original release back in 2002, but that was a long time ago and it hasn’t done well with its arrival on modern consoles. With a lack of any update or modernisation, as well as nothing to ensure a smooth ride for controller use, Industry Giant 2 is one of those games we could have ended the year without. Tropico 5 already offers a much more controller friendly and modernised experience, and so it seems this release may have only done damage to what has been a successful series so far.