|Min OS X: 10.6|
Mac OS X: 10.6.6
The category of simulation games is expanding. It used to basically be limited to war simulations and city managing sims, but now the genre is shifting to more focused areas. You can run your own fantasy/medieval shop, work the stock market for your own benefit, and now act as an air traffic controller. Whether or not this simulation is fun, it's at least only the fourth of its kind.
Airport Madness 4 is the first one you have to pay for, however, so the main question is whether or not it's worth it. This could be dependent on price, but that's really not that high for an indie game. Overall, it's more dependent on whether you are a traffic controller, as the gameplay is pretty boring after a while. It feels like work, which does make sense considering the subject matter.
This is unfortunately due to the fact that all you really do is tell planes to speed up, slow down, cross a runway, or launch. There aren't many options for you to customize your experience with, so you basically are just sitting there grinding planes until the next zone is unlocked. This is fun for the first 25-50 when you enter a new area, but the issue is that you have to grind 100 to unlock the next zone and 250 to have the zone considered "won." The time it takes just doesn't feel worth it, as it gets extremely repetitive.
The sound and music is the same way, as there only appears to be a couple of tunes that loop endlessly, a crash sound, and a few generic jet engine sounds. You'll end up hearing all of these over and over again, which can easily lead to you muting the game and playing it silently to your own music. Like the gameplay, it's enjoyable for a bit, but gets grating after a long bit of exposure.
On the graphics end, everything looks about how you'd expect for a straightforward 2D simulation. Character portraits are a stylistic image that doesn't move or animate, planes are a static image that rotates based on the direction they're going, and the explosions are a simple animation. It doesn't really look bad, but it's nothing stellar either.
Airport Madness 4 does have at least a little variety in maps, though. You've got the standard set of crossing runways, a trio of runways around a central base, a grouping of aircraft carriers, and a few other maps in addition to those. They do come with a selection of random events like emergency landings and weather effects, but none of those will affect your performance at all if you have a steady pattern going. This is mainly because most are merely cosmetic, like a red glow that crosses the screen.
Overall, this game seemed like it could have been great. If you could layout your own runways, purchase airport buildings, sign contracts for extra money, or even just use the giant wads of cash you bring in for something, the game may have felt less stale. As it stands, you will start a map, find a rhythm, and likely find yourself bored waiting for the level to end so you can try the next one. It's not a long game, and it's only barely worth the price as a casual novelty. May Airport Madness 5, if it ever exists, contain much more content.
• Unique simulation
• Little variety between levels
• Too much time spent waiting between plane waves
Franklin Pride is a game development graduate and professional programmer/consultant for the Unity development engine. He's currently working on completing his first two computer games (The Farming Game, Uncle Fred's Deep Space Security) while consulting on the side.