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Introduction - What Are Tycoon PC Games?
Tycoon games are for those gamers that want to build an empire, but with a more specific aim than conquering the world or defeating an enemy. They're simulations that challenge you to successfully build something up from nothing, using limited resources and your own ability to manage. The tycoon genre has included just about everything you can think of, from roller coasters to zoos to railroads. There have even been tycoon games where you manage a prison. While the games may differ in their content, all tycoon games share similar identifiable traits; they all require someone who enjoys managing and controlling an environment (sometimes to the Nth degree).
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What Makes A Good Tycoon PC Games?
While this question is somewhat subjective, there are some qualities that the best tycoon games all have. The most important aspect of a Tycoon game is the ability to control things. That's what the gamer is looking for, after all. If your Tycoon game limits a gamer's ability to control the environment, you've failed to provide them what they want.
The second thing potential Tycoons want is content. A tycoon game can drag on if there isn't good content to keep the gamer interested. Everything is goal-oriented, and those goals need to come with real rewards. There also needs to be enough to occupy the gamer's time and attention as their empire grows, or they'll get bored and play something else.
The last (but not least) important aspect of tycoon games is that it not have bugs or glitches. While bugs in other games might be annoying, they can be a deal-breaker for a tycoon game. Imagine how upset you might be if you're building your railroad empire and a bug causes your trains to disappear randomly or worse, crashes the game. Because of the sheer volume of changes a tycoon game can encompass, problems like these have greater impact than your average FPS or racing game.
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One of the early Tycoon games was RollerCoaster Tycoon. At the time it came out, there were no other games quite like it. The premise was not just about building great rollercoasters, but the gamer also had the ability to create other thrill rides as well. The idea was to build the most thrilling theme park possible. The gamer had to carefully plan where the various rides would be, how to provide access to each ride, and even the placement of bathrooms (for the eventual sick rider, of course). Although the rollercoasters were the main draw, they were by no means the only thing a potential tycoon could design. There were shops for customer to buy souvenirs, food stands, water rides, and even slow rides for the more faint-hearted customers.
The earliest in what would become a series, this game started out with a few scenarios available for the gamer to conquer. With each success, more scenarios unlocked and more content became available. The last scenario had no goal, other than opening the entire map up for the gamer to enjoy and build on. This game was so successful that it spawned two downloadable scenarios, two expansions, and two followup Rollercoaster Tycoon titles.
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Sid Meier's Railroads
The last in a series of Railroad Tycoon games, Sid Meier's Railroads is the epitome of railroad management. Railroads takes the gamer into the world of railroad management, with scenarios that cover every development of the railroad industry from the early 1900's up to and including modern railways. For those gamers with a passion for trains, this title is just what they've been looking for. But the game is incredibly fun for the rest of the potential tycoons, whether your interest is trains or not. Besides managing trains, you also get to create industries along the path of your rails. The savvy gamer will be able to not only provide an efficient and profitable rail system carrying materials, but they'll also manage the crafting of those materials into usable goods at various stops along the way.
The use of fictional and historical scenarios provides for some unique fun, as you build railways through the southwestern United States, Great Britain, or even Germany. The scenarios and their respective locations demand different management techniques, especially as you consider what particular time period the scenario is in; each of them are challenging in their own way. When it first came out, the hardware requirements were a bit high, but on today's hardware this game will run beautifully. The visuals are breathtaking, the controls are simple and intuitive, and the support for both singleplayer and multiplayer gameplay will satisfy every gamer's needs.
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Zoo Tycoon 2
For the gamers with children (or just young hearts), Zoo Tycoon 2 is the game of choice. The second of its type, Zoo Tycoon 2 takes what was done right in the first game and improves on it. As you can expect, you're given a plot of land to build a zoo. This game is about more than just caging some animals for people to gape at however. Your job is to create an environment where the animals are happy, they are entertaining your visitors, and your zoo enterprise is profitable. There are a number of challenging scenarios, and there's even a sandbox-like scenario where you can basically build whatever type of zoo you desire. You can even jump into a first person viewpoint as a visitor or a maintenance person and walk around your zoo, getting a close look at what you've created.
Some of the updates to this second title in the series include a much cleaner visual experience (including 3D objects instead of flat 2D as in its predecessor), the ability to take photos of your zoo from a zoomed in perspective, and an informative collection of data on all the zoo's residents. The child gamer in your household can learn quite a bit about the various animals you are raising and housing. All-in-all, this game is a fun tycoon experience for everyone.
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This tycoon title has its roots in the original boardgame Monopoly. Though it resembles the game however, this tycoon is only slightly similar to the tabletop fun we all know. Monopoly Tycoon takes the idea of gathering together real estate in the 1930's for profit and expands on the concept exponentially. In addition to buying property, you get to do choose what types of businesses you want to build in a given location. To aid you, there are ways to research and find out what the nearby residents really need in their neighborhood. In this manner, the game becomes more of a city management game where you're actively advancing your real estate empire's net worth rather than merely a game of collecting rents on visitors to your houses and hotels. The passage of time also opens up new business opportunities, such as grocery stores and Blockbuster-like video rental locations.
There's a single player and multiplayer game mode, so you can choose to challenge yourself against others if you wish. The 3D graphics are beautifully rendered, and it can be entertaining just to see the city from the various viewing modes available. The sense of competition from the other business owners around you is palpable, and you'll find yourself worrying about their pricing practices as you struggle to stay profitable. This game provides a great deal of enjoyment, but it will definitely challenge your management abilities.
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Vegas Tycoon is the tycoon game for those who feel the need to attend to ever minute detail. After all, this game is set in the city where the smallest details can mean the difference between profitability and being demolished. In this game, you need to build a Vegas empire. This does include a casino, but that's just one aspect of the business that you need to manage. Vegas these days means entertainment meccas, and this game mirrors that very well. You'll need to create tourist shops, a place for spectacular shows to take place, and attractions that will draw the paying customers to your location like a bee to honey. And yes, you'll need an awe-inspiring casino as well.
Everything in the game has to be planned out carefully. If you have topless dancers for example, a certain portion of your potential customers may be offended. Where you put a fountain or how you arrange your poker tables can have an effect on business. As they say, the devil is in the details here. But for those who enjoy such attention to detail, this is the ultimate game for such diversions. The city is breathtaking, and there is an opportunity to make your casino mirror the city's beauty. It all depends on the choices you make as you play.