I think it's fair to say that the original Industry Giant did not receive critical success outside of Germany (where it was actually a popular game). Upon its re-release in the US, it was branded by critics as a low effort, run of the mill business sim. I never played the original, but based on what I've heard, I feel confident saying that Industry Giant 2 is a big improvement. It does, however still have a number of issues, especially on the PS4. It's a solid strategy game, let down by horrific controls (on console), poor pacing and a serious lack of charm.
Industry Giant 2 is available on the PlayStation Store for £15.99 (Sale Price)
As far as actual narrative is concerned there is very little. Something not uncommon for the genre. You do get quite a nice introductory cut-scene, in which your father tasks you with building your very own business empire, but outside of that not much else. The actual game is divided into two main modes, endless and campaign. The campaign is a fairly standard affair in which you are given a sum of money and are told to make more within a certain time frame. It's ultimately up to you how you make this money, but predetermined factors such as the weather and consumer demand mean that there will always be one approach that is objectively better than the others. The campaign does give you the feeling that you are an expanding business, and that's really what you want from a game like this. But I do feel like more could have been done with it. After the opening cut-scene, I was expecting something a little more personal. But it wasn't to be. You feel like you really are some kind of disembodied deity, directing a business from the heavens. There are no characters, dialogues or interactions of any kind.
All of this comes together to make the overall experience feel rather dry. It doesn't help that the game's tutorial is a suffocating mess. You are met by wall after wall of inexplicably small text that expects you to follow its instructions to the letter without really guiding you through the process. A more step by step approach would have been nice. I also feel like an opportunity was lost to flesh out the narrative. Instead of just through text, the tutorial could have been delivered by your father. He could act as a mentor, showing you the ropes of managing a business and then handing control over to you.
Unfortunately, I reviewed this game on a PS4. A big mistake. The controls are, to put it bluntly, atrocious. Moving the camera around the world is awkward, micro-managing the various buildings is fiddly, and sometimes button presses refuse to register. I also discovered examples of the game's tutorial (sorry to bang on about it) being flat out wrong. I was told that to bring up a certain menu I had to press "circle". After several frustrating minutes, I realised that I actually had to press the "X" button. This is by no means the only example of bizarre game design on show. To demolish a building you have press in the left stick and press circle at the same time (something which isn't made entirely clear). This isn't inherently bad design, but I feel I have to point out that while in the menu from which you can perform the demolition, the "triangle" button does nothing. There are of course obstacles inherent to trying developing a traditionally mouse-driven experience for a console, but Industry Giant 2 has done a particularly bad job of it.
But if you ignore the controls, what are you left with? Well, you actually have a solid, if a bit generic, strategy game. The core gameplay revolves around supply chains. You build department stores in cities, warehouses outside the cities to store your goods, and then farms and mines further away to supply the warehouses. The way this all plays out is appealingly free-form and the game has enough nuance to keep things interesting. You can micro-manage almost all aspects of your company, increasing and decreasing production as necessary and managing goods in your warehouses. Things get even better later in the game when you have to handle the more complex tools such as railroads, factories, and air travel. None of this breaks new ground, but it is enjoyable.
The number of stats and figures that the game presents you with is also fairly impressive. You can check supply and demand, sales figures, profit margins and much more. This allows you to make meaningful decisions that have real, tangible consequences. There is a commitment to the recreation of an actual industrial and economic climate that I feel is worthy of real praise. To play the game properly you must actually have a basic understanding of economics. This may be a turnoff for some people, but in a game like this, I feel it only adds to the experience.
For fans of slower paced, less structured gameplay there is the endless mode, which I recommend over the campaign offering. You can set up a large map and run your business as you see fit, which I feel is really what the game is all about. There should only be one real goal, running a successful business. It's certainly challenging. a supply chain can easily become and have a devastating knock-on effect. But I consider that to be part of the fun. Sitting back and admiring your empire wouldn't be nearly as satisfying if there hadn't been hardships along the way. For hardcore fans of business strategy, I can see endless mode being a real draw. If you ever wanted to build up a business giant from nothing, this is one of the best games currently available to simulate that.
GRAPHICS AND AUDIO
As far as the game's aesthetics are concerned, they're functional, but once again lack creativity or imagination. The different towns are samey and there's a real lack of colour. There are also a few nasty bugs. I only had one hard crash, but I have seen other people complaining about similar things. The argument could be made that graphics simply don't matter in a game like this, but I have to disagree. A game, no matter what genre, should be something a player wants to spend time in. If the game is ugly, or boring to look at that desire will be diminished. I think an excellent example of this is Blizzard's CCG, Hearthstone. They took what could have very easily been a basic looking card game and turned it into something I consider a joy to behold. The animations, sound bites and overall presentation make it so much easier to interact with the game. Charm is a quality that transcends genre and can make any game significantly more palatable. It's unfortunate then, that charm is something that Industry Giant 2 is seriously lacking.
The audio suffers from the same problem, but it is better. The soundtrack is nothing special but a few of the tracks are nice to listen to and don't grate too much during longer sessions. I particularly liked "Coalmine Funk". Aside from the soundtrack, there isn't much else to report. There is little use of sound in-game and the audio flourishes are kept to a minimum, a shame really.
Overall, Industry Giant 2 is a solid, yet unremarkable game. If you like in-depth stats, micro-management and real world economic theory, then I can't recommend it enough. But if you're looking for something a little bit more dynamic, something that takes itself less seriously, I'd give this one a miss. Casual business sim fans need not apply. It's also worth noting that the only way to play this game is with a mouse and keyboard. Avoid the console versions at all costs. This game was built from the ground up to be playable with a mouse (and let's face it, aren't all strategy games really?).
It's a shame because I feel in the hands of a developer with a little more creativity and artistic vision, this game could have been so much more. As it is it's just forgettable, and given the state of the industry today, forgettable is the last thing you want to be. That sums up my feelings towards the game. In a year from now, who will be talking about Industry Giant 2? It doesn't have a USP and that is ultimately what kills it.
|+ In-Depth Stats||– Lack of Creativity|
|+ Meaty Challenge||– Missed Opportunity for Story|
|+ Meaningful Micro-Management||– Dull Aesthetic|