Tycoon City: New York E3 2005 Preshow Report

We take a bite out of the Big Apple in this city-building game from the makers of the Tycoon series.series.

Tycoon City: New York brings the Tycoon series to the world of city building and social simulation, giving you a familiar venue in which to ply your creativity and entrepreneurial acumen: New York, New York. You'll get to populate the island of Manhattan with businesses, residences, and fun spots, reveal well-known landmarks, and take control of the city that never sleeps. We got to check out an early version of the game at Atari's recent press event to see how this newest project from Tycoon developer Deep Red is coming along.

The ostensible ultimate goal of Tycoon City will be to become the wealthiest and most influential New Yorker around, though of course you won't begin as a powerful business magnate. You'll start out in a single district (the one we saw was Greenwich Village) with an existing grid on which to build and then where you'll please your future residents. Tycoon City won't focus on laying out roads and managing resources. Instead, you'll simply have to make people happy by giving them the type of businesses and recreation that they desire. The type of services you'll have to provide will vary by district (there will be 12 key districts to unlock), as residents of the Village will have different needs than, say, those on the Upper West Side. You'll be able to get a sense of community desires from the district level, or the residents of a given building, or even just from an individual that you click on, so you can decide where to focus your efforts.

The artificial intelligence in the game will purportedly both complement and compete with players. For instance, if you're busy building businesses for folks while more residences are needed, the game will pitch in and build some new residences for you. Likewise, it will build businesses that will compete with your own, so you'll need to upgrade your own ventures to increase their appeal. Each business will have its own sphere of influence that's visible when you click on it, and it both color codes nearby residences to show their interest in the place as well as indicates which nearby neighborhoods will patronize the business. If you have a successful type of business in more than one district, you'll even be able to form a chain, allowing you to work on replacing Starbucks as the most ubiquitous presence in a cityscape.

The version of the game we saw was pre-alpha, so we were only able to check out a few businesses and some of the wants and needs of a few milling New Yorkers. We were also able to catch sight of some of New York's famous landmarks, which are in the game. While still a work in progress, the buildings were detailed and easily recognizable. As you progress and gain influence, you'll earn "landmark bonds," which you'll be able to trade in for key New York spots such as the Empire State Building. Areas for landmarks will be blocked off so you can't build on them, and that means no moving things around! In addition, you'll also be able to trigger events when you have enough clout, such as the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square, letting you bring New York to life.

The idea of a city-building sim where you're constructing a modern-day, preexisting metropolis sounds complicated enough without it being New York City, but Tycoon City: New York looks to be going about it in a compelling way. After all, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, and who wouldn't want to ply their business-building strategies in the Big Apple? We weren't able to see very much of the game running, but we'll be sure to keep our eye on this one as its release approaches. Tycoon City: New York is due out this holiday season for the PC.

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