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Casino Inc.

Developer: Hothouse Creations
Publisher: Konami
Genre: Tycoon / Simulation
Players: 1
Similar To: Casino Tycoon
Rating: Mature
Published: 05 :14 : 03
Reviewed By: Ryan Newman

Overall: 6.5 = Fair

Screenshots

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Minimum Req.: P2 450, Win 98/2000/XP, 64MB RAM, 16MB 3D card
Reviewed On: P4 2.5ghz, 256MB, GeForce 4ti, SB, Win XP Pro


Intro

Konami and Hothouse Creations are out to break the mold with their latest release, Casino Inc. Billed as a more adult-oriented title, players can hire thugs and order around prostitutes. Sound like fun? Well, it is for a while; unfortunately, Casino Inc. suffers from a lack of versatility and nagging micromanagement hang-ups.


Gameplay: 6/10
For those who want to be the next Bugsy Siegal, get ready as Konami is giving the perfect venue for your megalomaniac and violent tendencies. It's going to be a rough start, though, as beginners will hit a sluggish tutorial that does a solid job of going through the oodles of menus, but lacks an easy option to get to the next step; resulting in superfluous steps in a game that really doesn't need any more. Each casino is a little varied in its presentation, goods, and difficulty; there's also different starting locations that will offer differing degrees of challenge as the lesser the competition - which also includes nightclubs, restaurants, clubs, and theaters - the easier it is to complete all the objectives given during the level.

Tackling the first casino and its appropriate starting location isn't much of a problem, once the oodles of icons and menus are put to memory. The first few goals are pretty tame, requiring a certain amount of daily income, adding a new floor - which can also be turned into a swanky hotel section that can range from 1-5 stars, depending on what the area needs and how much the player wants to invest, and getting a percentage of gamblers. The influx of visitors will require tons of dealers, doormen, guards, bouncers, bartenders, technicians, janitors, waiters, ticket takers, cashiers, thugs and even hookers. Not only is that a large number of different workers, but they will all want massive amounts of the player's time; whether it's asking for a raise, threatening to quit, or having to manually move them to clean up vomit, service a John, what have you. I was more annoyed at how the hookers wanted more money, I mean, what happened to the olden days when threatening them with a box cutter was sufficient enough to get them to shut up? Alas, that golden age of disciplining whores seems to have passed. The rest of the employees will either threaten to quit, or do so, and too much of a turnover will lead to low moral and even more resignations. Can they not see that their 3-star service isn't worth their bloated asking price?

While there are varying levels of employees, each with an appropriate price range that matches their talents, there are also the coveted 5-star employees. Despite being the cream of the crop, and pretty pricey, the elite staff didn't seem to make all that much of a difference. Other interesting features, like purchasing advertisements, setting the doormen to enforce entrance rules, and making shuttle routes, didn't seem to make much of an impact either. Luckily, the bouncers enjoy disciplining ruffians and do it with great gusto; and, if the player is lucky, they will get someone ratting out about a rival sending them over to start trouble or offer their services. Such services can be beneficial, although it'll require a nice-sized goon squad to be effective. Sending hooligans to a rival can bring them some unwanted attention, because an establishment that has too many fights will be shut down by the authorities, and all those lovely customers will be looking for a new place to go.

Around the time the player has gotten their feet wet, they will then need to attain a certain percentage of gamblers, and this is where the trouble begins. Already having everything from roulette and poker tables; ice cream and burger stands; arcades and pinball machines; bars of all sizes; vending machines; proper leisure seating; dance floors playing rock, classical, and heavy metal; theaters showing action, porn, and musicals; and a host of other attractions, it'll be nerve-racking to figure out just why people aren't showing up - and why the people who are there are so damn annoying. The customers are just as irritating as the employees as they continually vomit everywhere, start fights, and say the same phrases over and over. It doesn't get much better when opting for a different starting location or other casino either, despite whatever new goods are made available.

The excessive amount of information is useful, as is the ability to take to the streets and check out rival companies, but they're only part of a handful of things that make Casino Inc. enjoyable. At its core, it's a decent tycoon game. There are the traditional aspects, like having the ability to adjust the quality to price ratio for goods, employee wages - get prepared to give up some heavy wages to keep moral high - as well as the added features of sending thugs to fight, rob, and even kill. However, there's also the constant micromanagement of bouncers, guards, janitors, and dealing with the incessant whining of greedy employees and obnoxious customers, not to mention the cruddy controls. Casino Inc. also relies on the fact that its skewed take on the genre will get it attention, but much of the humor fails; I guess no one told the developers that the liberal use of the term 'white trash' isn't the equivalent of striking comedy gold.

Graphics: 7/10
Decent models with cartoon-styled deformed statures are decently animated and adorn some nicely colored attractions. The casinos themselves aren't much to look at, regardless of their design or color scheme, so it really puts more emphasis on the attractions and the oodles of customers. Admittedly, it's enjoyable seeing a customer get smacked around in the basement after having them act up, but after witnessing tons of fights, it just isn't as entertaining. The city streets are nice to see with a bustling population and traffic-filled roads, which served as a nice change of pace.

Sound: 6.5/10
There's nothing quite like the constant clinking and clanking of change to get that 'casino feel' and there's also nothing quite like wanting to rip your ears off after hearing a 'white trash' customer scream about her trailer for the 30th time within 5 minutes - and that isn't an overstatement. Going outside fares better as the city streets sounds like one would expect and adds to the ambiance, much like the machines going wild in the casinos. If it wasn't for those horrible sound bits being repeated to the point of pushing me to the brink of insanity, I wouldn't have been so eager to pull the headphones off.

Control: 5.5/10
Wow, that's a whole lot of icons. What's that? Two sides worth? Yowza. Then factor in that those menus have submenus and even some of the submenus have submenus. While the information given is relevant, I can't help but think that there had to have been a better way of streamlining all of the processes. Then there was the asinine decision to not allow the player to use the mousewheel to move the camera and, instead, have them use the deadly six: insert, delete, home, end, page up, and page down. Why the mousewheel or right mouse button weren't used to control the view, I'll never know; the way it works now is pretty irritating, but luckily, there are ways to skip to certain employees and situations, and that does help. Streamlining: It's your friend, so take the time to do so, it's worth it.

Overall: 6.5/10
Casino Inc. isn't necessarily a bad game; it just wasn't fun over the long haul. It's better to treat a casino as a pet project and go back to it over the course of a week or so, instead of trying to tackle all the objects at once. The shortcomings in design, and general annoyances, can easily turn an enjoyable session into one of complete frustration. Without all the features fleshed out, I had a hard time telling if my outside efforts, like advertising, was having much of an impact. With customers coming and going in hordes, it wasn't easy to tell just what it was that they wanted; some had pictures of ice cream above their heads and completely ignore the two ice cream stands on the same floor they're on and walk out the door. For those wanting to try the naughtier aspects, I can't say it's worth it, but for those who are dying for a chance to run their own casino, they certainly won't hurt.

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