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Mall Tycoon 3

Score: 71%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Global Star Software
Developer: Cat Daddy Games
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

The corporate budgeting and tongue-in-cheek humor in Mall Tycoon 3 are masked by the innocent looking cel-shaded graphics. The disproportionate people who populate your malls also add an awkward, comical sense to things. Much of what you see is also customizable; walls, floors, store items, even the people who shop and work at your mall can be visually altered. This very simple approach to the graphics suits games of this type, as it keeps everything uncluttered and easily recognizable.

Audio content in Mall Tycoon 3 consists of elevator music, a couple of very short lines of dialogue, and a bunch of blips and bleeps that signify button pressing. The content is both simple and limited. As long as you donít have high expectations of the sound in this game, you wonít be disappointed.


Gameplay:

Mall Tycoon 3 is based solely around a single concept: building and maintaining a mall. The third game in the installment doesnít have much to live up to; the previous games were utter fiascos. In what seems like a desperate last attempt, the developers have fixed most of the superficial flaws prevalent in the earlier game, but have somehow missed out on creating a fun game.

There are only two modes of play, but while they are called by different names, they are still very similar in nature. First we have Sandbox mode where, as the name implies, you have free reign to build the mall of your dreams. Surprisingly, this is much more fun than the other side of the coin which is Challenge mode. Challenge mode is simply a list of tasks that you can complete, and are not obligated to do them in any order, or even to do them at all. For the most part, these tasks clearly state what you have to do (which usually boils down to turning around a failing mall). However, some of the tasks are extremely ambiguous and you never know if youíre anywhere close to completing it. All these challenges manage to accomplish is to demonstrate various aspects of the wholly dull gameplay.

In order to establish your money-making mall, you first need to lay out the floor plan and then throw in some essentials: a bathroom, a place to eat, and a couple of stores so you can start raking in the cash. The problem is that every game starts out in this exact same manner. Sure you can make the floor plan look different each time, but you are severely limited in the stores you can purchase at the beginning of the game. Better stores can be unlocked as you progress, but the process each time is almost identical.

After the stores are in place, you need to get some staff out on the floor to keep things running smoothly. This process is also identical every time you play a new game; hire a janitor, a security officer, and a mechanic and place them in strategic points. Your staff can be promoted to make them work faster and cover larger areas, but that is so far down the road that it does little to alleviate the monotony of the early game.


Difficulty:

Mall Tycoon 3 is more of a grind than a challenge. As I said earlier, the beginning of the game is fairly easy as there isnít much room to branch out and try different things. The challenges are also relatively simple, but some of the later ones do get a little tough. The majority of the game, however, is nothing more than constantly monitoring your profit from each store so that you can buy more stores. It is a long, tedious, and boring job that yields one of the most despicable constructs of our time: the mall. The end certainly does not justify the means.

Game Mechanics:

Compared to the earlier Mall Tycoon games, the interface in Mall Tycoon 3 is incredibly simple. Yet despite this fact, the information that needs conveying is lost in a jumble of bugs and poor design. There are no tool tips at all, something that would have helped make the game easier to get accustomed to. This leaves a lot of the interpretation of the buttons down to intuition and trial-and-error. The information is there, itís just hard to get to and then even harder to read.

The basic method to success in Mall Tycoon 3 is by having profitable stores. When stores are profitable, you can charge them more rent, and with the rent money, you can buy more stores, and so on and so forth. You also need people to come to your mall, and this is done by making the current visitors happy and then making your mall more appealing so as to attract new visitors. You can see what a certain customer thinks about your mall simply by clicking on them. Their basic desires are hunger, entertainment, and the need for a restroom (no mall can have too many of these).

While the premise here is simple, the many flaws and the shallow gameplay make for a boring experience. Mall Tycoon 3 has attempted to remedy the flaws from the previous games, and for the most part was successful, but in the end the game is just not much fun to play.


-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows 2K/XP, 800 MHz Processor, 128 MB RAM, 8X CD-ROM, 750 MB Free Hard Disk Space
 

Test System:



Windows XP, 2.4 GHz Processor, 1GB RAM, 256 MB GeForce 6800 GT Video Card, 160 GB Hard Drive, Cable Modem Internet Connection

Windows Age of Empires III Nintendo GameBoy Advance Rebelstar: Tactical Command

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated