Whenever I seem the word “Sim” I begin to shudder, but I’m never sure if that’s from excitement or fear. Another add-on to The Sims? One of those ol’ Microprose pseudo games? Someone trying something new? Oh wait… Hold on… It’s the last one! SimAirport is a call back to the ol’ Theme, Tycoon, Sim franchises where you are a micromanaging madman in control of more than you reliably can handle. In this case the new company LVGameDev LLC have attempted to form a scenario where the logistics of running an airport, even a small one, is more complex than you’d expect.
Spiritually the game resonates with the style of Prison Architect, simply shaped humans who are floating between one point to another while you, the omnipresent mouse pointer of God, creates things around them. Not to say it’s a clone, that would be unfair, but ignoring the parallels would be a criminal offence in the game reviewer’s world. It’s difficult to explain this game without an instructional video on egg sucking because it literally expects you to run an airport. Everything between initial arrival, reception, happiness, toilets, luggage, you name it and it’ll likely be included. Fail to meet the basic requires of your customers and your reputation drops and this reputation defines your income indirectly with the clientele you provide. Have nice and happy customers from EasyJet and eventually British Airways will knock on your door. Granted you could sit in squalor and serve up the basics to a horde of low paying air fare fanatics but I see the primary goal is to become the best airport out there and then keep it that way. Shuffle the stag-do excess to somewhere like… Hull… Wait does Hull have an airport? -checks notes- IT DOES? Wow…
Beyond what has already been made SimAirport has more ideas than time to create them. Like many indie developers with games at Early Access stage they have a completed foundation concept, theoretically they could release the game with a bit of spit and polish by the end of 2017 and it would fit purpose. But doing the bare minimum has never been the ideal of an up and coming company. The future is littered with concepts of threats, weather, security issues, challenges and plenty of fan suggested ideas. Truth is that the limit of the game is based completely on its success and the persistence of the team making it. What is clear is that the creators of SimAirport are keen about keeping the people in the loop, this sort of community engagement is very encouraging and leads me to believe there is nothing but good times ahead for future developments.
As it currently stands the game is both playable and enjoyable. It’s very clear through the Let’s Play series I started -cough-shamelessplug-cough- that there are rough edges to sort out. Little things numerical values still looking like code rather than information on a GUI or the detail on the passengers and staff being a little pixelated, it’s nothing horrible or game changing but it is noticeable. Luckily for me SimAirport prioritises substance over style and so the gameplay is already solid and relatively free from bugs. Logistically I found the game fascinating, it’s easy to forget when you go abroad how much is happening in the background. Things like organising luggage through transport and conveyor belts, dealing with streams of passengers through understaffing and all the god damned litter. Frankly I feel more inclined to be friendly with the security staff next time I go abroad even after they frisk my beard hidden weapons. Personal trials aside the challenge of running an airport efficiently, cost effectively and ergonomically is a made entertaining by this title.
The only thing I am worried about with this game is the competition out there. I wasn’t lying when I said this game depends on its own success and so with people like Apoapsis Studios creating a very similar concept it can be a dangerous battle to the finish line. The true test for the developers is making this game unique to the other. If I am to go by release dates SimAirport was “here first” but when it comes to the gaming community that may not be enough, ensuring they continue their communication with their fanbase will be vital and failing to do so could make or break the project.
I sincerely hope this game succeeds as everything about it thus far tells me it should. It’s challenging without inducing rage, there is mountains of potential to expand on and the team seem actively engaged in the community around them. The future maybe unclear for SimAirport and unique-ness and progress will be it’s guide but if what I’ve seen so far is any indication the future is looking bright for SimAirport.
Watch all the Defective Inspector's Let's Play videos for SimAirport
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Images - Steam
Buy SimAirport on Steam