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PC Review - 'Atlantis: Underwater Tycoon'

by Tristan on June 15, 2003 @ 11:57 p.m. PDT

Atlantis Underwater Tycoon borrows successful elements from The Sims, Rollercoaster Tycoon and Railroad Tycoon to create a game that is fun for all audience types, from casual to hardcore gamers. The game has a strong concentration on personalization, fun, and humor, combined with a cutting-edge 3D game experience, featuring complete camera freedom and dynamic surround sound, giving you the most absorbing visuals and gameplay available. Read more to find out how our review went ...

Genre: Underwater Building Simulation
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Anarchy Entertainment
Date: March 18, 2003

Buy 'ATLANTIS: Underwater Tycoon': PC

The world of building simulations has undergone major changes in the past few years. A genre that started off with the hit titles Sim City and Civilization. The genre has only gained ground since. These original titles were not only followed by successful sequels, but inspired a new age of building simulations. The evolution of this genre has been quite an exciting thing to experience as it has gone from 16 color, 2d graphics to lush 32-bit visuals supported by vast 3d environments. With the release of Sim City 4 the bar was set just a little higher, as the game featured the ability to zoom in on a city and watch people and cars roam the streets, all with outstanding detail.

In order to compete with titles like this it is crucial to utilize any and all available technologies to create, detailed realistic game environments. Anarchy Entertainment took up the challenge of creating a competitor for Maxis and their Sim City series. Atlantis: Underwater Tycoon was the contender that was seeking to dethrone the heavy weight that was Sim City.

Set deep on the ocean floor, Atlantis: Underwater Tycoon, is the latest building sim, and first to be set underwater. The player is give over 15 characters to chooses from to use in the construction of his/her city. Each character has his/her own benefits to the city, i.e. with certain characters; the desire of tourists to visit your city will increase. There are many terrains to choose from, including canyons and underwater forests. The game also features objectives on certain maps. The objectives vary from defending against enemy attacks to producing a certain amount of product for your warehouse.

The game was not only a small install, but very easy to get the hang of with the aid of the included tutorial. The tutorial teaches players of all skill levels the various techniques required to succeed in a game like Atlantis: Underwater Tycoon. After the tutorial, it was quite easy to get started playing the game. There were a few options to choose from, when starting a game it was possible to follow one of a series of stories, or simply build ones own city, without objectives.

The game features many different building types and upgrades. These upgrades allow players to create newer, better buildings, also allowing them to create new life in Atlantis. Each building brings a different benefit to the city. In order to keep the people happy and the population of the city up, it is necessary to create a diverse selection of buildings. The creation of certain buildings makes the city more desirable to vacation to, increasing annual profits, and average population of the city. The creation of other buildings like a police stations and shield generators helps in the defense of the city against pirates and other enemies. Restaurants and grocery stores, keep people fed and happy, which is key to the success of your city.

Resource harvesting is also very important. It is possible to harvest gold, pearls, and other valuable resources. Units can be built to scan the terrain for the best places to harvest. Once located, buildings can be built to harvest these resources at the desired locations. These resources are the key to success in this game as they provide money to expand ones city and make it bigger and better.

One very interesting feature in this game was the fact that it is possible to dig for gold. Dig sites are identified by small treasure chests; below these chests are various treasures from weapons to stock certificates. It does cost money to dig, and a lot of the time, the player will only find worthless objects. However, on occasion, the player will find an object that is worth a significant amount of money. These objects can be sold to either the humans or the people born in Atlantis (Atlanteans). Sometimes the objects will be worth more to one group than to the other, so it is necessary to pay attention to who the player sells it to.

Life in Atlantis and its continuation is basically the long term objective of this game. It quite interesting how life is created and maintained in Atlantis. In the beginning, life in Atlantis includes only humans, but as time goes on, people are born in Atlantis and two groups develop. Atlantis is eventually broken up into humans and Atlanteans (the people born in Atlantis). Through research and upgrades, it also becomes possible to bring sea life to Atlantis, such as whales and dolphins. These increase the appeal of Atlantis to vacationers, and increase the annual profits of the city.

The great thing about this game is that it appeals to just about every age group. Anyone able to wield a mouse and keyboard has the ability to do well in this game. The neat buildings and bright colors / atmosphere appeal to the little kids, while the work and strategies required to maintain a successful economy appeal to the older generations. It is this ability to appeal to many age groups that makes a game like this successful and Anarchy Entertainment hit the nail on the head with the production of this game.

The game does have one large downfall and that is in its like of options for buildings. The game would have benefited from about twice the buildings that were originally included. There were merely 3 types of residence, and each type only had one model. There aren’t nearly enough different resources to harvest either. It is this lack in diversity that deeply hurts the game, as when larger cities are created, they all look relatively the same. In games like Sim City, there are many different models for not only the residential buildings, but the commercial and industrial buildings as well. If this game could have provided more models and more buildings it could definitely dethroned the reigning champ that is Sim City.

In an increasingly realistic gaming world, it is imperative to develop crisp detailed visual effects. Anarchy Entertainment did just that producing graphics that could give Command & Conquer: Generals a run for its money. These visuals include vast seascapes along with extremely detailed buildings. During the day, the small amount of sunlight that manages to penetrate the water reflects upon the buildings adding to the detail of the game. It is because of this detail that the player is also able to see through windows inside the buildings, and watch people in night clubs, movie theaters and even in their apartments. Although there aren’t many different human / Atlantean models it is still a gift all by itself as no building sim before this has featured the people inside their buildings. In most games, the characters usually just disappear into the buildings, but not here, here it is possible to see what the characters do when they get into the buildings.

In a game like this, sound effects aren’t the most important thing in the world. Music however is very important. Anarchy Entertainment provided an excellent score for this game. The game features mostly techno based music, but each track is designed to generate different emotions. At different points in each mission, as well as during the day, different music is played. At night, a quieter type of music is played, and during missions, active, exciting music is played. The music in this game is, like the graphics, a huge benefit to it.

In the long run Anarchy Entertainment did a fine job of producing the first underwater building sim that this reviewer has ever seen. Their utilization of a strong graphics engine along with the amazing techno score make this game quite a pleasure to play. If it weren’t for the lack in buildings and building models, this game could very well have taken the seat as building sim heavy weight champion, but Anarchy Entertainment fell a few steps short. So until the next time, Sim City remains the champion of building Sims.

Score: 7.8 / 10

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