LINUXGAMES

Airline Tycoon Deluxe

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We received a review copy of Airline Tycoon Deluxe a few weeks ago from Rune Soft, and today I’ll be taking a look at this business simulation game.

Linux doesn’t get too many non-sequels, or business simulations for that matter, so Airline Tycoon is certainly the first business simulation I’ve played for Linux. Though it is similarly named to Railroad Tycoon 2, this is a very different game, with a different art style and gameplay. Airline Tycoon Deluxe was originally created by Spellbound Entertainment AG for Windows.

For the Linux port, Rune-Soft (formerly epic interactive) developed the game using Ubuntu Linux. Although Rune-Soft’s website had no downloads at the time of review, the Linux Gamers’ FAQ has a download to fix a problem with Airline Tycoon Deluxe crashing X. Unfortunately, the manual that shipped with our review copy of the game was apparently for the Macintosh version of the game.

As the manual we received with the game was the Macintosh version, all the technical details for installation and such were wrong, I hoped this problem would be rectified in future shipments. However when I asked a Rune-Soft developer he let me know that Rune-Soft would not distribute a Linux manual. The DVD style case that holds the game mentions that it is the Linux version, in addition it has an SDL logo on the back. Below that and the game description in three languages (German, English, and French) is the “Systemrequirements” which are notably higher than what the Spellbound Entertainment AG site suggests they should be.

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Those requirements still aren’t very high at a 500 Mhz processor with 128 MB of ram and 16 MB on the video card. As this is a 2D affair, laptop Linux users will be happy to see these low requirements. Airline Tycoon Deluxe offers no resolution selection, so we’re stuck with 640×480. The intro film is a short comedy featuring a jet, a bird, and the leaders of each of the four airlines in the game. After the intro you’re dropped into the menu.

Speaking of the menu, it is an impressive representation of an old fashioned flight board, with the character spaces that flip to form the appropriate message. If you leave your cursor still for some time in the menu, a screen-saver will form of various planes zooming across the screen.

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For my first game I chose Siggi Sorglos as my character, with his FL Falcon Lines, though I first took the opportunity provided by the game to rename my character and the others appropriately…

The tutorial isn’t very comprehensive, it gives you a guided tour through getting one flight off the ground. You only really get a quick scheduling demonstration before you are left on your own to ponder the interface.

If you’ve played Aerobiz or the sequel (Aerobiz Supersonic), you know what you want from this game. I’m sorry to say you, the former Aerobiz player, will most likely be disappointed. Airline Tycoon Deluxe isn’t as well put together as Aerobiz. Though it is a similar game in theory, in practice the interface will likely annoy anyone beside someone so desperate to play anything but a first person shooter who barely kicked the Aerobiz crack pipe back in the day, and can’t help but try the latest diluted hit.

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If you haven’t played Aerobiz, you will probably be confused and give up a few minutes after completing the tutorial. The gameplay involves you as the owner of an Airline, seeking to become the titular Tycoon. You can achieve this goal through buying planes, fuel, and making your reserved flights on time.

The interface I’ve been crowing about is incredibly infuriating. You must operate inside a 2D graphical airport, and while there are hot keys for some items, you will probably not use them. Instead you will most likely end up clicking to walk to a location, clicking around objects in the office to launch controls for your business, and then clicking to quit the game. Finally clicking your FireFox button to whine in the forums because you hate Airline Tycoon’s interface and can’t believe you bought it.

I’m reminded of the supremely frustrating
Battlecruiser 3000AD
when I actually try to play the game. You might not have been surprised to find that a distant relative of Derek Smart worked on this particular title, after you play it and give up in a furious rage. Raging not just at the interface, but the germanglish throughout the game (and manual) as well. If Airline Tycoon Deluxe hadn’t been free I’d have felt bad for buying it and continued trying to play for the sake of the lost money.

Unlike Battlecruiser’s insane attempt at detail, Airline Tycoon Deluxe only has to hit within the scope of the usable fun running this business. Which is why it is so disappointing when it fails, this game is so close to
being very entertaining for Tycoon and Aerobiz fans. At least the only technical problems with the game are solved, and we don’t have to complain about the work on the port being shoddy outside of the nearly useless germanglish manual.

I’m sorry to say that I can’t really blame Derek Smart’s family for this disappointment. This is all the product of German excellence, so I blame Hitler. Thus I’ve won the argument, goodnight everyone!