E3 2011: Airline Tycoon 2 Preview - First Look

In Airline Tycoon 2, you can (easily) build an airline superior to our real-life counterparts. At this year's E3, we find out how.

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After nearly a decade of absence, the Airline Tycoon series is back with Airline Tycoon 2. In this super-stylized airline management simulator, you will fill the shoes of one of four CEOs each in control of an international airline. Just like the original, this game will have you building planes, plotting routes, and planning your competition's demise. At this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, we took a brief look as this upcoming game.

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The bread and butter of any airline is its airplanes, and building the right ones is key to success. There are two main ways to customize your aircraft. The first is the aptly named airplane editor. This tool lets you adjust the specific parts that make up your airplanes, including the nose, body, tailpiece, turbines, and more. Special gadgets, such as the flux compensator, can also be added on to give your plane some extra pep. No matter which items you choose, they will all impact the price and performance of your planes. And once you have your bird built just the way you like, you can add a bit of a personal touch through its paint job and personal logo.

The second is the cabin editor. This tool functions similarly to the airplane editor and allows you to customize the interior of your aircraft. Everything from the types of seats installed to the style of doors used is at your disposal. For example, you might want to pay the big bucks and pamper your travelers with personal televisions and expensive meals. Or you might be more budget minded, in which case your passengers will be lucky to get a bag of peanuts. Whether you choose first class, third class, or something in between, your accommodations will attract a certain type of customer.

Once your airplanes are in order, it's time to put them to work. As the airline manager, it will be your job to set and adjust flight paths based on the types of aircraft you have available. You will also need to schedule arrivals and departures, as well as be ready to capitalize on any sudden emergencies. Randomized events, such as riots or natural disasters, can occur, and if you're quick, you can line your pockets with the misfortune of others. Of course, you won't be working in a vacuum; there will be rival airlines all aiming to undermine your company and elevate themselves to the top.

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Compared to its predecessor, Airline Tycoon 2 is planning to offer a more streamlined interface and better usability. Planning and reviewing your flight plans will be easier, thanks to a simple drag-and-drop method presented on a world map. The hub airport has also been condensed from a series of individual rooms--each with its own loading screen--to a single, all-encompassing area. On the topic of airports, the developers were not ready to confirm whether you will be able to modify your hub airport in any way. At any rate, you'll be able of find Airline Tycoon 2 on the PC this October.

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