Prison Tycoon 3: Lockdown fits firmly into the more derivative end of the Tycoon bracket. You’re running a business that has a group of customers who require certain services. You build what you can afford, and use the money from doing it well to satisfy new, more complicated desires. The difference, of course, is that your customers are prisoners, requiring outdoor gyms to lift weights in, mess-halls to eat bad slop in and shower rooms to have punch lines to unsuitable jokes in. Another difference is security. Having a big hole in the fence leading to the outer world, for example, is a bad idea. As you deal with increasingly high-security prisoners, you gain access to things like Dog Squads. Oh - and the Death Chamber.
Lockdown’s primary problem isn’t one of taste, however, but what it shares with most budget tycoon games. It’s not interesting enough, even with the possibility of riots and breakouts. You only have a limited range of things to buy, so it’s mainly a case of spending your money then sitting back. You can change some on-the-fly things, but with little idea of why, due to a minimum of feedback as to what’s annoying your charges. This fogginess transfers to the control system: you can order guards to move to specific locations or pursue prisoners, but there’s no immediate feedback. You click, and sometimes he goes off and does it and sometimes he doesn’t. With the cumbersome camera controls, you end up just wishing they’d hurry up and escape already. And then you think escaping is a pretty good idea. And then you press Escape.
Apr 7, 2008