Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Metropolismania - Review


Every so often you come across an unusual game, in most cases one with little to no publicity. A game most people wouldn't even be aware exists unless they were to accidentally come across it. When I was little, I found such a game in Metropolismania. I really don't have any idea where I got it. My mom played it sometimes, in fact it was one of only two PS2 games she would play. Yet to this day, where she got it and how she even heard of it in the first place remains a complete mystery to me. (I suppose I could just ask her, but the mystery of how we ended up with the game always adds a tiny bit of charm to it, does it not?)

This game is a city building simulator, which brings to the minds of most people an image of their favorite SimCity game. But let's just say that this is nothing like SimCity, and expecting it to be so would be a mistake. I should also mention the fact that if you want a game with a stimulating storyline, it would be best to look elsewhere.

The Game's Story



This really isn't much. The basic plot is that convenience and electronic communications are supposedly leading us down a path that will destroy all mankind. Because you like meeting people, have tons of friends, and are a great listener, you've been chosen out of a billion people by the Future Development Agency to save the world. How will you do this? By building friendly towns. Five of them. By building five towns you will save the world from the horrors of electronic communication. Armed with a magical piece of chalk, an application list, and most importantly, a yellow suit, you are sent on your way to save the world. It is a very nice suit though. If only I liked yellow more.

The Graphics

Honestly, they aren't very impressive. The graphics are very much Playstation era, regardless of the fact that this is a Playstation 2 game. They aren't terrible to look at, but they are kind of blocky. I'll also say that they can be very generic. It's likely that you'll end up with a lot of residents that have the exact same character model.

The Controls

This is going to be blunt. I don't like the controls in this game, and I'd like that to be known. In most games, you move yourself with the left analog stick and control the camera with the right analong stick. In Metropolismania, you move forward and back with both sticks. Moving side to side with the left will rotate the camera, while moving side to side with the right strafes left and right. You use R1 and R2 to zoom the camera in and out. The controls aren't exceedingly difficult to use or anything, and as you play you get used to them, but the way the camera is controlled is annoyingly different from other games.

Gameplay

There are a few basic steps to the gameplay. First is your road construction and resident allocation. After you've taken care of that and residents move in, the next step is to communicate with them, and make sure their needs are met.

Road Construction and Lot Allocation

Remember the magical piece of chalk I mentioned earlier? You use this chalk to designate where the roads will be. And the instant you do, the road will be there. The game itself tells you that this is because your chalk is magic. Don't expect more of an explanation than that though. You go into your menu and select the chalk tool, then from there you press X and move around. Be warned though. Once you place a road, you CANNOT delete it. This is the first annoying aspect of the game, and it can cause you some issues if you aren't careful.


Once you have some roads in place, you'll wanna build homes and businesses near them. Your application list is exactly what it sounds like. It's a list of people you have to move into your town. You have to be careful with your roads though. If you build too many, residents will choose their own spot along the road to move in, which can lead to a badly organized town. To place them manually, you go into your menu and choose the application list, choose a resident, and choose where you want them to live.


It takes a bit of time before their house/business is built and they move in, but it's not an exceedingly long amount.

Communication

The cell phone tool is what you use most for this. It lets you enter buildings to talk to the people inside, and also lets you talk to people you encounter on the streets. Being friends with your residents is very important, and there are 5 relationship levels you can reach with a person.

1. Stranger
2. Know the Face
3. Aquaintance
4. Friend
5. Best Friend


There's a few options when you talk to people. The first is Gossip, where you just exchange dialog. Initially your only option is to listen to what residents have to say, but over time you'll gain various Gossip topics from them. When you use these topics in conversations with a person whose personality type matches them well, your friendship with them will increase.


Another option when talking to your residents is to give them gifts. Again, these gifts correspond to certain personality types. You won't see the option in a lot of conversations early on, mostly because you have to have a giftable item with you in order to see it at all. If they like the gift, your friendship with them will increase, but if they don't like it, they won't even take it.

The third basic option when talking to your residents is to ask them to introduce you to new residents. In order to get more applications to move into your town after you've allocated the ones you start with, you need to be introduced to them by residents. The introduction option only appears with adult residents that you are at least Aquaintances with. Not everyone has someone to introduce to you, and some people require you to be at friend or best friend level before they will introduce to you.


One thing to remember is that residents don't like to talk to you more than twice in a row, and they will make sure you know you're annoying them if you try to.


Complaints

This is by far the most annoying aspect of the game. Every so often, you'll notice a building flashing in your town. That means that the person(s) who live there want you to build a certain type of building, which they'll tell you about next time you talk to them.


These have the capability to be good or bad for you. If you're able to fulfill their complaint, your friendship will get a big boost. But if you go too long without fulfilling it, the resident will get angry and move out of your town. To solve complaints, you have residents introduce you to people as usual, but when a complaint is present, you have the option to get a normal introduction, or to ask if they know anyone you can move in to solve the complaint. The main issue with this is that in some cases, there will be no one in town capable of solving the problem, in which case you will have no choice but to say goodbye to an angry resident. Althuogh refusing a complaint is possible, your friendship will drop, and you will no longer be able to talk to that person because they'll still make the request every time you try to.

Replay Value

The game gets more difficult and repetive as you progress, so rather than worrying about replay, it may be better to worry about whether or not you'll finish all five towns. When it comes down to it though, any replay value it has will come from the fact that you can go through the first town pretty quickly, so if you like the game and ever have nothing to do, a quick replay of the first town is an option.

Overall Pros and Cons

The pros are kind of limited. The game can be repetitive and generic, the graphics are behind the PS2's capabilities (though considering it was released in Japan in 2001, they aren't awful), the controls are annoying, and the complaints can be difficult and sometimes impossible to solve. Some people like myself though, regardless of all the flaws, do manage to enjoy the game. The translations aren't the best, but I personally find that to be worth a good laugh or two, same with some of the things people will say when they find you annoying.

Rating

Graphics – 7/10
Story – 2/10
Gameplay – 7/10
Overall – 6.5/10

The graphics aren't very impressive, but they aren't bad for the time. The story is bad, but I won't go straight down to zero, since it at least tries to give you something. The gameplay is annoying and the controls are hard, but if you play long enough to get into it, you can get attached to it. I'll give it a 6.5 overall out of 10. I feel the terrible story shouldn't hurt it much, considering simulations like this generally aren't about the story anyways.

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