Review by KTRSFan

Reviewed: 09/26/05 | Updated: 11/19/05

Difficult, but VERY fun...

Well, I'll just cut to the chase. You are the new governor of a rainforest isle, and you have to make sure you are running a profit, or you will be impeached and a new governor will take over, so you better have a good economy! At your disposal is a panel of agents, ranging in skills from the "just-in-case agent" to the "have-at-all-times agent," the useless skills to the downright essential skills. You'll need all you can get, too, what with wild animals venturing into your theme parks, sharks attacking your tourist ferries, oil spills, and nuclear meltdowns (YIKE!) all just waiting to happen, although they very rarely happen if you have an XP. The explorations are much less successful on the XP as well.

Gameplay: 8/10
Like any simulation, it's a little complex, but like all Maxis games, they do their best to simplify it. A simple right-click will get your guys moving, and the construction screen is real easy to use. My biggest beef is that some agents are NECESSARY TO FIRE, like that one that has the skill Fauna & Zoology, although I guess you need it for a shark attack, though I've never had one. Also, in some isles, you have a huge amount of cash just waiting to be found, while in others, better have that oil rig ready, 'cause there ain't many leprechauns around and they're MUCH better at guarding their pots of gold. Another thing is this; how the heck did they make such a dang good game work well on real old computers? I could play this game on the old 3.11 Windows PC without many problems, and I was REALLY good at making an economy (So much so I went overboard and destroyed the isle, with only a small group of trees and a couple of game reserves the lone remnants of the isle's former glory. Plus, I had 230+ wardens around, too.) without much of a problem. Now, I'm struggling to get that good economy with the XP. Well, I can get it, but it takes so dang long... Anyway... There are a bunch of missions to complete, and a random generator to make new isles for you to fool around on, but beware: you can only have one up at a time, or the maps become VERY MESSED UP! Picture a Ferry Port in the middle of a grassland. Now picture a town floating on water. We're talking big-time. There is a way around this: you simply exit the randomized map, open up on of the scenario islands (Non-randomized) and open up the island that you want.

Story: N/A
I can't really give a score, because all the missions have their own little story.

Graphics: 10/10
Considering the age of the game, THIS GAME IS VERY GOOD WITH THE GRAPHICS! The pictures are actual pictures, not some Photoshopped wannabe, and the movies do their best to capture the mood of the area. For example, for an oil spill, they actually took a camera to an oil spill in progress to show the devastation and destruction of the beach. They also got pictures from the Rainforest Action Network and they are EXCELLENT. What they did is try to give the game a sense of realism, and it worked.

Sound: 9/10
The music is incredible, and the sounds... not so much. They get too repetitive at times, and HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO LISTEN TO THAT DANG CHANT EVERY TIME I CLICK ON A VILLAGE!? I'm surprised that, after the tenth village I visit, Iain doesn't go AWOL on me. However, the amount of sound is incredible, and I absolutely LOVE the diversity, which is a big reason why I didn't give it 7/10 for the repetition of sounds. It's just some are really common, others are really rare.

Replayibility: 10/10
I'm loving this... The game never stays the same, as while you can play "Buy Out" twenty times, you can send your explorer to the same spot and find something only once. With the random generator, the game never gets old, although after a while, you become such a pro that you might as well put on a shelf since it becomes a bit easy.

Overall: 9/10
This game is among the best simulations I've played, and it certainly is a good buy if you crave accurate simulations. However, it's extremely difficult, so you might as well pass it up if you give up easily.

Final Comment:

SimIsle is actually a program for young kids to become more aware of the rainforest, and the destruction that man has caused by allowing them to see what happens to their own island. However, it also gives them a chance to try to reclaim their paradise from destruction and certain extinction, so they can realize that all is not yet lost. The manual has factoids in the margins that state just how widespread and damaging the deforestation of the rainforest is, and they aren't messing around.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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