Friday, August 20, 2010

Game Review: Wine Tycoon

My husband’s computer died a few months ago, so we went out and purchased a new one. Of course, with the new computer, he had to have a new computer game, and while I was browsing with him, I discovered Wine Tycoon by Got Game. I had a coworker rave about Railroad Tycoon to me once, so on an impulse, I bought this game for $20.

I played it for a little bit, thought I wasn’t really impressed. You are given an estate in some region of France, and you have to manage the existing vineyard for weeds, pests, over growth, and soil depletion. You have to make a one time purchase for equipment to do this, and then periodically check in to see if the equipment needs any maintenance. There is a market demand, which helps guide your selection of what grapes to plant, though one would think that some of the market would find the product other places in the amount of years it takes to meet an order. You have other buildings such as grape sorting/crushing, fermentation, and bottling, and you have to build a storage room and purchase barrels for aging. When fermentation is done, it asks you about “blending”, which is really what you have ready to bottle unless you want to set some aside for aging in barrels. It seems to me that you can buy x number of barrels and put less wine in it than they can hold, and the program will treat them all as full when maybe only a quarter of them are. Also, two types of grape wines are never bottled together, so I’m not sure why they still call it “blending.”

The game marches on in time with or without you. In fact, at one point I was cooking dinner and just letting it run, and would periodically check in on it. You just have to periodically check in on the vineyard to make sure it is healthy, on the equipment to see to maintenance, and also deal with blending and possible selling of wine. So much more of it is automated, including harvesting and bottling. I was never really sure if I had the right equipment for crushing or if I needed more fermenters, but I figured if I didn’t, that hopefully, like a real wine estate, the employees would come to me and make recommendations for new equipment purchases. Maybe I just haven’t played enough to hit that point. In fact, I decided to look up reviews to see if I was missing something about the game. There were very few reviews out there, but the ones that did exist were not positive. I wish I had known this before I bought it.

I also found the controls to this game very clunky, and I find myself repeatedly opening windows upon windows, wishing it was all there in one window to begin with, and cursing about how I clicked the wrong button and opened the wrong window. Saving is also a bit odd, as I don’t seem to be able to title my saved games.

Apparently, there is a Beer Tycoon out there, made by a different FIP Publishing & Virtual Playground. If it is anything like Wine Tycoon, I would stay away. As for Railroad Tycoon, I would probably still purchase it because it is done by Sid Meier, and I love playing his Civilization games.

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