Mall Tycoon Review

The next game in the recent slew of tycoon type of games challenges players to design and manage their own shopping mall.  While this might seem to be a mall rat's dream, Mall Tycoon falls short of the mark as either a business simulation or a shopping center builder.

Right from the get go, players will notice that Mall Tycoon is not a top-tier game thanks to its dated and clunky graphics.  Shoppers and mall employees are minimally animated and appear flat and fuzzy.  The shops feature some basic and sometimes mildly amusing animations of people shopping and interacting with the store displays, but the people are blocky and yellow-skinned, like something out of a very early Simpsons epsiode.  The game allows the 3D view to be rotated and zoomed, but the low quality of the graphics won't inspire players to want to get a close-up look at things.

The sub-par graphics would be easier to overlook had the game's economic model been more sophisticated.  As it stands, though, the game's financials are pretty simplistic.  Players can select the type of merchandise sold at a store, set the store's rent, and take a percentage of a store's sales - that's about it.  The game does not provide much in the way of detailed financial information, so it is difficult to tell why a mall might or might not be doing well.  The shoppers themselves do not provide any helpful feedback, either.  They can be followed to see where they are headed, but there is not really any way to find out what they like or don't like about the mall.  

Mall Tycoon falls short of being a mall simulator in other ways as well.  Cleanliness and security issues can easily be solved by hiring an army of inexpensive janitors and security guards.  Once hired, they can be forgotten as they wander the mall, since there is no way to send them to problem areas or assign them patrol paths.  There is also no way to analyze foot traffic and store placement, or change store displays, or any need to concern oneself with a lot of details that would seem important to the success of a real mall.  The game does allow the player to run special promotions, but these are contained to a special atrium which must be placed in a mall (and won't even fit in some of the malls in the game's scenarios) and their effect on the mall's traffic and sales is negligible if it has any impact at all.

Some of the aspects of Mall Tycoon just do not make a lot of sense.  The game has a research component that is supposedly included since it is a feature of most tycoon type of games, but it seems out of place in a mall simulator.  Is it really necessary to research janitors and delis?  Also, if a mall becomes dirty enough, zombies will appear and begin converting the mall's shoppers to zombies.  If the rest of the game featured wacky and off-the-wall humor, then the zombies would fit into the overall theme.  In Mall Tycoon they just seem hopelessly out of place and are a fitting example of how the designers could not make up their minds as to what kind of game they wanted Mall Tycoon to be.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 40%. If you just absolutely have to design a mall, then this game is your only option.  Those looking for challenging tycoon-type simulations should look to other games, though.

System Requirements:  300 MHz Pentium II CPU; 64 MB RAM; 16 MB Video RAM; 8x CD-ROM; 300 MB Hard Drive Space; Mouse.