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Constructor HD review

Back 18 years after its original release.

© System 3

Constructor HD, a game that promises to cross both the Sim City and Grand Theft Auto fan bases, has landed on PS4. We took a look at the latest incarnation of the franchise.

In Constructor HD you begin with a small group of workers and a single site next to a lumber mill, from this unassuming beginning you must build an empire of property, business and power. Seems pretty straightforward right? Well the twist here is that you are no normal developer. You take the role of a rising mob boss whose aspirations span beyond just property to protection racketeer, slum lord and ultimately, complete control of the city having eliminated all rival families. I was excited by this game but unfortunately I was disappointed.

Watch a preview trailer for Constructor HD below:

 

The opening cutscene shows a man being buried alive in concrete with a slightly cartoonish graphical quality that hinted at the humour that is intrinsic to the game. I haven’t been able to confirm 100% whether I’m right but I’m pretty sure that the voiceover is performed by John Challis otherwise known as Boycie from Only Fools and Horses and deals with the in-game events in typically sarcastic style. The narration was one of the major positives for me with dialogue that feels traditionally British and a style which is entirely in keeping with the tongue-in-cheek style of the game. I must confess to an absurd level of excitement when I first heard him interject with a ‘your residents seem unhappy’ moment; it was as though I were in an episode of the beloved sitcom. Unfortunately this is where the positives with regard to sound quality end. The music (where there is any) is repetitive and irritating and the sound effects seem to be taken from a possible selection of five or six.

The screen seems as though it has been directly transposed from a 1990s PC version and is perhaps best illustrated by the clunky, oversized cursor which is both unwieldy and a major detraction from being fully immersed in the game world. The people are once again taken from a group of about five or six different types and generally only have one or two stock phrases for each type. There were layers that could have been explored here about personalities within a group and the hazards of trying to run a crime syndicate but instead we are left with a rag-tag collection of the same characters; devoid of personality and denying the player the opportunity to actually see how difficult it can be to manage effectively with a group of disparate characters.

View some Constructor HD screens in our gallery:

The real-time strategy aspect of the game is hampered by the control and gameplay limitations. The menu design is sketchy at best and often feels illogical and the use of buttons on screen in addition to the standard Sim City style of bottom of the screen menus meant that I was constantly trying to find certain tasks and items as I was under siege resulting in heavier damage than my general play deserved. Though it is true that you soon get used to where things are, in the heat of the game it often still becomes a matter of really thinking through each move you make on the controller rather than being able to be immersed in this crazy underworld. I have to also point out that having a cursor on a PS4 is tricky at best and again means that you are constantly thinking about what your fingers are doing rather than enjoying the game. Surely this could have been something akin to ‘X Opens build Menu’, ‘Triangle opens Tenant Menu’ etc.

The good things about Constructor HD are ultimately tied into its nostalgia factor. If you played this game way back when it came out on PC then you are sure to enjoy the feeling of playing it once more, but if you are looking for a genuine Sim City style game with intriguing gameplay and excellent replayability you are probably best looking elsewhere. The game feels like exactly what it is; a port of an old game onto a new console. There doesn’t appear to have been much thought that went into what improvements could be made and how the game would function on a modern system. That being said I did spend an awful lot of time with the game trying to win and perhaps that is the point; even though it had many faults I still wanted to win. I still wanted to keep going.

Though I feel that there are better games out there in both Sim and Crime genres this one is certainly one that has the ability, should you really want to see it, to draw you in. I just don’t feel that it is one that we will be waxing lyrically about in a couple of months’ time.

Constructor HD was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the publisher.

Publisher: System 3 Release Date: May 26, 2017 Reviewed On: PS4 Also Available On: PC/Steam, Xbox One

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