There is something comforting about airports. It’s the strange out-of-time, out-of-place experience where all you can do is sit and wait, shop, or eat and drink. But they are places that hold great moments of happiness, as the arrivals gate brings people from the world over back together; friends, families, loved ones, taxi drivers holding name cards.
But have you ever thought about how an airport is actually run? You know, the nitty-gritty of dealing with planes, staff, and thousands of passengers on a daily basis. Well, with SimAirport you get to experience all of this, via an engaging sim.
A light warning before this review kicks in. Sim fans will revel in this game – if you love the complexities they bring, and can’t wait to get involved in all aspects of airport management, SimAirport is going to be for you. Newcomers to the sim market might struggle though, as even the tutorial ramps up the level of detail quite quickly. As always with these games, the transition from PC to console is well implemented but I have still been left wishing for a mouse and keyboard to make it a little bit easier at times.
In SimAirport you will be left dealing with everything you would associate with an airport. The in-depth tutorials will give you a complete breakdown of what and how you need to micro-manage the airport, with the main goal being to take your small airport and expand, expand, expand. There are two modes to play through – the opening career mode and that of sandbox. Career mode gives you limits on money and is much more suited to hardened sim fans, while in sandbox mode you can give yourself unlimited funds and set other options to make the game play as you want it.
In terms of running your airport, you need to think about everything. Baggage control, ticketing, food and drink, staffing, zoning, planes, and countless other things as well. It’s a full-time job, but someone has to do it. But for your first couple of attempts, you’ll no doubt find yourself falling into debt, making the wrong choices and failing. But when you start to get the hang of things, you begin to realise the genius of SimAirport.
It’s all about balancing the books, listening to your customers and your colleague’s needs. If you are not careful passengers at the airport will start complaining about a lack of things to do, or will be found complaining about the bad customer service in the baggage department. You then have to think about your workforce and their needs, both regarding work standards and pay.
You also need other airlines to come to your airport and fly from there, keeping competitive but also ensuring you drag in some decent cash. Honestly, playing in career mode sees a difficulty curve that is quite steep and it can ensure you feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of stuff to deal with.
However you play, SimAirport’s visuals are not the main draw here, which is a bit of luck because they are not up to some of the more ambitious sim titles that are around on console. The focus is on the amount of detail found in the micro-management side of things, and it all works fine with a top-down style and use of colour to be able to view different zones in the game. The menu system and the UI are easy to navigate and the text is simple to read; again, something which is occasionally tricky in games like these. Sound wise it’s very simple and maybe it’s better to create your own audio entertainment.
If you’re a fan of the sim world, where you need to be involved in every decision, micro-managing every detail in every department, then you will have an amazing time with SimAirport. But should you be coming along for your first experience of the genre, this is perhaps not the best game to start with. The attention to detail is brilliantly done, but it does have a steep difficulty curve, and whilst the visuals and sound are simple, it doesn’t really matter as you’ll spend your time completely involved in sorting out some baggage problem.
SimAirport does exactly what it’s meant to do – giving an insight into how hard it is to keep us all up in the air.