All Work and No Play...
Do you dream of starting your own business? Do you ever feel the urge to bury the competition through shrewd business acumen and stock market savvy? The designers at Interactive Magic are hoping you do.
Capitalism Plus has several enhancements over Interactive Magic's original Capitalism. They have added a map and scenario editor, SVGA graphics, and have significantly increased the overall complexity and detail.
The game is a very well thought-out and detailed business simulation. You start each game with $10,000,000 and 50% ownership in a company. From there, you chose a company name and logo, as well as your own name and a clip-art portrait. Capitalism Plus allows the player to farm crops, raise livestock, mine and process minerals, import goods, manufacture goods, and sell products at retail. You can also research new products or better ways of producing existing ones. Capitalism Plus lets you chose marketing strategies, buy and sell stock in all companies, and pay dividends from companies you control.
Advanced strategy gamers will enjoy the level of control available. Unfortunately, this level of complexity requires you to manage every little detail, and beginning players may feel a little overwhelmed. If you build up a large business empire, it will require constant attention to prices, stocks, and research and development to keep on top.
If you do feel a little overwhelmed at first, there is a full set of tutorials to introduce you to all the basic game concepts. The addition of a narrator was obviously an attempt to liven up the tutorials a little which are fairly boring and reminiscent of a economics or business lecture.
The high level of detail which makes this game such good simulator of business makes it very demanding of your attention during play. As prices for all commodities rise and fall, your costs as well as your competitors' prices change constantly. Computers are much better able to react quickly to changes in prices and technology and can adjust their prices and strategy endlessly without becoming bored. The human player, on the other hand, usually gets pretty sick of adjusting the price of 20 products for the umpteenth time to stay competitive and maintain a profit.
The problem is that the computer has the energy and patience to oversee as large a business empire with as much attention as it wants, while humans (like ourselves) have only finite patience for dealing with the minutiae of supply and demand, inventories and prices.
Graphically, the game is on par with other modern strategy games, except that it seems to lack the production values of the more popular strategy games. The game screen is unusually static. There are no pieces to move around and no animations to see. For all the effort this game requires of the player to maintain and expand a business, there is little payoff. The day to day operations of your company are represented by little pie charts and bar graphs. It would be nice to be able to see what is going on in your facilities, but Capitalism Plus represents all your facilities as organizational charts.
Running a business is what many people do as their job. This game is a good simulation, however, that doesn't make Capitalism Plus a fun game. It does have its moments. The first few quarters of game time are pretty fun. Unfortunately, after that,
the constant attention required to maintain your business usually
outweighs the fun of expanding your empire and market control.
I would recommend Capitalism Plus to three groups of people: people who dream of starting their own business, students in business school who yearn for a game to bring their lectures to life, and hard-core strategy players who have a lot of patience with micromanaging things. For the casual strategy player or someone who demands bells and whistles in their games: you'd be better off investing elsewhere.