Constructor was originally released on the PC way back in 1997, when this reviewer was in his early 20’s, drinking every weekend, chasing girls and chasing footballs. Most of that has all gone now (bar the drinking) and Constructor has a console release 20 years after the original release. But has the last 20 years been kind to this HD remaster or has it been unkind (like it has for me)?
Constructor HD (now known as Constructor in this review) comes from System 3 software who developed the original 2 decades ago. It is essentially a Sim City world building game with the added element of criminality. The name of the game is not only to build your own city, as up to 4 players can inhabit the same game map, but its also to put a spanner in the building works of your opposition.
Jumping into the game at the start, the first thing I did was jump into the tutorial. Voiced by Boycie from Only Fools and Horses, the tutorial mode gets you used to the menu system, all on-screen, and explains how you build and upgrade houses, build factories to produce the building materials and how to simply disrupt the other players. The tutorial then comes to a crashing halt with a severe act of vandalism against you before encouraging you to get into the proper game mode.
There are a number of different game modes to try, however these are hidden on the main menu and take some finding. It appears that you have 2 options, Play Game and Missions. If you pick Play Game it takes you into the Financial Conquest mode where your goal is to make a set amount of income in a set amount of years. After playing this for a while I saved the game and decided to try out other modes but there seemed to be no way of picking these. I eventually found that a third sub menu on the main menu (called Designer) was where the game settings were changed. Basically you are able to use this designer to change the game modes and settings before leaving this menu and returning to the Play Game option. It all felt extremely confusing and far too complex for its purpose.
Eventually I found 6 different game modes, Financial Conquest, War, Egomania, World Domination, Utopian State and Build. They pretty much speak for themselves in what they want the end result to be, but the gameplay is pretty standard throughout. Constructor does allow you to play either local or online multiplayer but, like a lot of games recently reviewed its quite difficult to find a match, which is why my review is based around myself vs the CPU.
So, lets get into the gameplay of Constructor. Build your factories to create building materials, then build houses with those materials. Find tenants for your houses and set them to earn money or to breed new tenants (yes, really!). Rinse and repeat for a while. The tenants will then complain about the same things, for example if they are close to a factory they will moan about the noise. Building a gadget factory will allow you to make things like double glazing, which when installed in said house will stop the complaints. After about an hour in this game mode I restarted, as I then knew the sequence of construction needed in order to get off to a good start.
As you progress, the game opens up the breadth of houses, buildings and tenants available to you. Playing in single player mode means the CPU is busy doing the same and this is where the different game mechanics come in. Quite early on you are allowed to build an “undesirables” property which allows you to send one of these undesirables to the opposing teams area to disrupt them with a protest or an impromptu street party. Soon after you can build a Mob HQ which will then allow you to send a gangster out to take over opposition properties, or destroy them. Whilst these nefarious deeds are taking place the CPU (or other player) is having to deal with them, and not concentrating on building their world. As you play more, then obviously more options open up to you, such as Ghosts and Zombies, which does sound fun. However I am not reluctant to admit the fact that I didn’t get that far in the game, for reasons I will explain shortly.
You may remember earlier I mentioned Missions as one of the game modes. I was excited to get into these, as from what I had read about the PC version these would allow me to play smaller elements of the gameplay mechanics in a shorter chunk. But selecting Missions just gives you a “Coming Soon” message, so at this point in time they are not available. Also, every play session I had resulted in a bug which caused the game to freeze and needed the game to be quit and restarted, which also had the result of losing gameplay since the last save, which concluded in me to play another game as i just didn’t want to replay the lost section.
So my final verdict on Constructor is that it’s just not very fun to play. As a reviewer I want to put in excess of six hours gameplay to be able to form a constructive critique, but these hours playing Constructor were extremely forced as I just didn’t enjoy it. The different game modes didn’t really offer much variety, and i was disappointed that the missions were not active as a smaller bite-size chunk of this game, with a set objective would probably be a lot more enjoyable. However, if you like this type of game then the gang warfare feature may float your boat, but with similar games such as Cities Skyline available I don’t know the audience that Constructor will get, over and above fans of the original.