September 7th marks the release of Prison Tycoon 5 Alcatraz by ValueSoft. ValueSoft is a division of THQ. With four previous installments this game just gets better with every year, right?
Unfortunately, this sort of game has been relegated to budget status. What does that mean for gamers? Well, it usually involves a lack of instructions despite a robust simulation system.
To give an example of what the detail level is like, let’s look at an example. A fight breaks out. In order to stop this you could use things like tear gas or a prison guard to break it up. Since the gas doesn’t always work let’s go with the prison guard.
These guys are kind of small so you may need to locate the right person using a menu that lists all your guards. Then use the locator map to find where they are. Now select that guard, and then select the fight.
Of course, there may be a much quicker way to do all this, but there is really no one to tell you. Perhaps there are some hardcore tycoon fans that can help you with custom macros, or maybe there are hot keys already there, who knows.
Moving past the real complaint with these games, the game itself has never failed to encapsulate every important aspect of running a prison. Put prisoners to work, beware of diseases or infestations, break up fights, hire better employees, and manage a dozen other elements.
Additionally, the graphics and music choices never disappoint. The haunting musical choices really put you in the mood to deal with the hardest criminals in the world. The structures offered are breath taking in their exactness. Any modeler would be proud.
ValueSoft and THQ have been very closed mouth on any new features that the latest Prison Tycoon installment offers. Fans can only hope for a more intuitive interface, but that seems unlikely. Given the Alcatraz name, one might expect a few historical figures pop up. After all, the actual Alcatraz had celebrity criminals like Machinegun Kelly, Al Capone, and the bird man of Alcatraz Robert Stroud.
The game will offer both a free-play and challenge mode, which is standard for all Tycoon titles. At $20 this is a nice buy for fans of the series. For new comers, you might want to find the earlier installments before working your way up to this level.