by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
Cartoony graphics appear to be the trend within the Tycoon genre and Airline Tycoon 2 follows that trend by being even more outspokenly cartoony and colourful than its predecessor. The characters in the game are lively and well animated and the heads bobbing loosely over their bodies are a fun touch. When they are not peering back at the Evil Eye or other funny referrals to popular culture that are hidden in the scenery, they’re usually on the phone ignoring everyone else around them.
But even at high resolutions, most of the game’s screens feel too much ‘in your face’. Everything is a little too big and a little too clunky and all these oversized objects deny more important elements such as lists and statistics the room they need to breathe.
I was pleasantly surprised by the sound. Every NPC you can interact with has his own cheesy but well suited accent and almost every line of written text in the game is voiced. The only exception is the bartender slash caterer who appears to be a transvestite working on a sex-change. He’ll start off sounding like a man but two clicks further down the line will sound like a woman.
Navigating through the game can be a bit of a chore. At first, you will be rushing your in-game avatar through the airport, running between your office, your human resource department, hangar and other areas. There are shortcut keys that will take you to each location instantaneously - making your life a whole lot easier - but you’ll have to figure that out by yourself.
Unfortunately not every shortcoming of Airline Tycoon 2’s clunky interface has such a nifty solution. Almost everything you do requires one or two clicks that should have been eradicated during the testing phase. Filters on the plethora of informational screens are inadequate and as soon as your fleet surpasses a dozen or so planes, keeping track of your flights becomes a real challenge. Some of these issues would have been easy to fix. Selecting a craft from the list should light it up in the list like a Christmas tree and by clicking on a route in the right-hand column should act as a filter to show which planes are on that route. These are just a few examples to illustrate just how poorly the user interface was designed but the list goes on and on.
Airport Tycoon 2 is not an empty shell, but I can’t label it as a deep business simulation either. It’s somewhere in-between and while the game is quite comfortable with its place in the world, I can’t help but wonder what if... What if you could train your personnel and build classrooms with simulated in-flight services for your hosts and flight simulators for your pilots? What if a research tree would bring new technologies in areas such as flight safety, fuel economy and airplane types? The possibilities are endless and I am sure other players will have similar wish lists that keep the game from feeling like a full experience.
So, depth is an issue, as is the interface but once I had reconciled myself with these, I did enjoy playing the game. Airline Tycoon 2 aspires to be a great game but does not quite reach that potential. The promise is there, though, and it is up to the developers to make it happen in Airline Tycoon 3.
Configuring your own planes is fun, great animations.
Information screens are clunky, filters inadequate. Running a large airline is a chore.