If you were a fan of Paradise Island and My Country then you’re going to love Big Business. This is a tycoon game that challenges you to build a profitable empire of interconnected businesses. I am partial to a bit of tycoon gaming on my Android smartphone and so I’ve been building up my business empire in short bursts over the last few days.
This will be instantly accessible for any city builder or business sim fan. You’ve got the classic isometric view immortalised by Sim City and you have to build housing, businesses, roads, amusements to keep your citizens happy and trees to keep your city eco-friendly. The tutorial runs you through the basics and serves as a good introduction. The game has a pretty cartoon style and it’s all fairly colourful and engaging.
What sets Big Business apart is the chain of production. For example you can produce berries and sugar cane on a couple of farms and then have them delivered to your confectionary plant to make syrup. Your initial outlay is relatively small so the whole process will net you a tidy profit. There are lots of different businesses to choose from and each production process takes a specified period of time.
There are a few odd omissions from your building options. You can’t construct health or fire services, for example. However, you do get medical emergencies and fires which are dealt with by mysterious helicopters that fly on when you tap on the disaster in question. When it comes to transporting your goods around you’ll find that you do have to maintain a fleet of trucks, but it only really becomes a problem when you grow larger. You can also upgrade some of your buildings but not every type which is a bit vexing.
You get a steady stream of tasks dropping down on the left hand side of the HUD and they’ll bring you cash and XP rewards when you complete them. Naturally as you accumulate XP you will jump up levels and unlock new content.
Like all the other freemium tycoon titles in the Android Market Big Business is a slow burner. You won’t sit and play it solidly for hours on end because most things take a long time to happen. It is best enjoyed by dipping in and out when you have a few minutes to spare in your day. Of course you can spend in-game city credits to speed things along but they are very limited and it will cost you real money to buy more. Luckily most things can be purchased with in-game coins and you’ll generate them steadily if you build a solid economy and manufacture profitable goodies to sell.
I’m still not really a fan of the basic business model behind these freemium games because it generally becomes impossible to advance beyond a certain stage without spending real cash. Big Business seems to offer a bit more gameplay than some of the alternatives without forcing you to spend and the delicate balance required for your economy makes it quite immersive.
As a free game it’s great but if you are going to spend real cash to unlock everything then the starting price of $2.99 for 30 in-game city credits seems expensive and you could end up spending a lot more than that for a very limited return. I struggle with the idea that any amount of content could justify splashing out $99.99 for 1,250 in-game credits.
If you like a bit of tycoonery and you don’t mind the slow pace then give Big Business a go. It definitely has a bit more depth than your average city sim and it should hook you for a while.