Oct 27, 2014
Simulations usually go one of two ways: engaging or painful. Airline Director looks to be in the former category.
The user interface is fairly basic, with a low-frill information presentation via the navigation screens. the walk-through runs one through the basics of what we are supposed to do: build an airline empire. The globe is shown, with airports as pin dots; clicking on one gives information on the selected port as well as action options.
The player starts out with cash and a couple planes; the game prompts the player to pick a starting airport on the globe, and from there it is necessary to negotiate rights to use that and other airports and (as is necessary early on) to create a hub, as hubs are essential to operations. The gameplay is turn-based, so after actions are taken, one can “play” to advance to the next time quarter.
Going forward, it is then prudent to set routes; routes are true business decisions, as one must weigh factors like aircraft on hand, range, and costs versus profits. Then, expansion requires purchasing aircraft, expanding routes, taking heed of rising costs and more. At all times, it is necessary to keep an eye on the cash hoard, and to understand that not all moves are immediate; for example, ordering a plane can take a turn or two. Financials are presented periodically, and existing routes can be devolved, and planes sold.
I think what makes the game work is the flow of the gameplay. The developer does a better than decent job of tying concepts together, with economic realities that do not allow the game to be too easy. For example, use rights expire, so if one goes into them and isn’t able to start flights after getting them, the rights are lost and money spent wasted. There are tons of planes with different attributes, and even airports need to be researched before expansion.
The game engine is fairly easy to understand too, and this is definitely a plus. The different save slots can allow for different plays to have their own sims going (in theory).
I do think the UI could be spiffier, the game gets the point across with simple screens and basic animations, but I still think a bit more definition could be used to highlight the gameplay. Pricing ($6.90) might cause pause, but I’d take the upfront pricing anyway.
All in all, it plays like full-featured, logical sim, providing plenty of opportunities to explore and create virtual empires.