Review by RockyRan

"Great potential, but only halfway there."

Way back in the early 90s, the financially-troubled Maxis company decided to release a large slew of "Sim" games in an attempt to strike gold like the way they did with SimCity. Yoot Tower is the sequel to the appropriately-named Sim Tower. Instead of relying on Maxis for development direction, the creator of the concept Yoot Saito developed and directed this game himself. Fortunately for us, we see the game exactly as Saito wanted. Unfortunately for us, the game came to us about 5 years too late.

The concept of the game relies on building a tower and "furnishing" it with offices, condos, hotels, stores of many types, elevators/stairs, apartments and many other establishments. Sound simple? That's because it IS simple. In fact, the majority of the time playing this game will be divided between building and waiting. You wait for money to come, build a few establishments and wait for hours on end for more money to come. Of course, the same can be said about nearly every simulation game in existence, but the good simulation games tend to keep you entertained with a fair balance between micromanagement, customization and the basic building. Yoot Tower only posses the basic building aspect and a ridiculously primitive management aspect.

The biggest flaw in the game--which happens to be the biggest flaw that pretty much any simulation game can have--is that it gives the user next to no control over their tower whatsoever. In other games like in SimCity, you can develop huge skyscrapers, setting down your own major intersections, highways, parks and embellish your streets with trees and small parks. In RollerCoaster Tycoon you can build your own park from ground up, get to decide the general layout of scenery, and build your own realistic roller coaster that convincingly follows the basic laws of physics. In Yoot Tower, there's nothing that lets you make your tower unique in any way. The player can only decide on three essential things--deciding what to build, where to build it and in the case of elevators, how large they want it. There's virtually no customization in the game to speak of aside from the three most basic aspects of any simulation game that I previously mentioned. Yes, the location of the establishments can in turn make some mildly interesting shapes, but this "customization" is the very least that any simulation game developer can give you. The result? Unless the player is extremely creative and dedicated, every tower that the player constructed in the game will look like every other tower ever constructed by anyone. Nothing will be able to set them apart due to a severe lack aesthetic options, which is the essence of the simulation genre.

In addition to this fundamental flaw, the game manages to fail in nearly every other aspect. The sense of time, for instance, is ridiculously executed. In the normal speed, the "people" (which are actually black silhouettes) scurry around as if running at their top human capacity. The dizzying speed at which the people move lets them cross your tower in a matter of less than a second. The sense of time moves relative to the speed of the people: entire days go by in less than 3 minutes. The problem should be simply solved, right? Merely decreasing the game speed should solve it, no? No. The "profit" that you get comes in huge chunks at the end of every quarter. Even with the lightning speed that is the "normal setting", it takes around 15 to 20 minutes to go through one quarter. So while the entire game zips by a mile a minute, other aspects like the "quarterly profit" system drags along at "regular" time. Huge inconvenience and highly confusing.

Other aspects of the game remain to be a huge nuisance. For instance, the game fails to inform you of anything that happens around the tower, and even if it did inform you, there aren't any tools to help alleviate that. For instance, tenants tend to leave because "of the bad atmosphere" (as stated in the game), although this hardly explains anything. Lack of bathrooms? Lack of security? Healthcare? Electricity? You're left to ponder it by yourself. In addition, the game tends to be extremely sensitive about "people traffic". If too many people scurry through an establishment, it could cause excessive noise, which is one cause for them to leave the building. However, there's absolutely no way to get rid of the problem. Building more staircases and elevators does not help at all, and since that's the only control you have over transportation, you're left with no way to solve problems.

The graphical aspect of the game is a completely different animal. My main gripe about the graphics is that everything is supposed to represent something, and thus nothing seems real or believable. Instead of people, you get black silhouettes, and you're supposed to imagine that they're people. Instead of rain, you get 2 or 3 static images in the sky with blue lines, and you're supposed to imagine that it's rain. Instead of snow, you get while circles, again, telling you to imagine that it's snow. But perhaps the worst one of all, instead of real-time animations of people inside the establishments, you get two or three static images of the same establishments rotated every second or so, and you're supposed to imagine that there's people in these. So basically instead of little people running around in the restaurant, you get a tiny slide show of three images rotating around ala Microsoft Power Point. This happens with every single little room that you build, so in a short time your screen is filled with 700 little slide shows that are supposed to represent people. In short, the developers cut as many graphical corners as possible, telling the player to "imagine" that things are real, and in the end absolutely nothing is believable.

The concept of Yoot Tower seems to be a fun one. Who wouldn't want to build their own Empire State building, peer into the lives of thousands of people working in offices and managing your huge commercial mansion with security and the basic facilities? As much as the game might sound exciting to the average Sim game fanatic, the game falls flat on its face as soon as the execution of the idea starts. Horrible, "interpretative" graphics, flawed fundamentals of the game and bare-bones gameplay leave much to be desired. Yoot Saito may have had a great idea in his mind, but the fun factor and basic gameplay failed miserably between the concept in his mind and the real game.


Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 07/02/07


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