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Posted by GG Goblin On August - 22 - 2017

Exploring the darker side of being a landlord.

It would seem that city builders on console are like buses, wait ages for and then two come along at once. However, while the recently released Cities: Skylines would be a shiny new bus with all of the mod cons, System 3’s Constructor is more like one of those vintage buses that are more used as an attraction than an actual means of getting anywhere. Constructor was originally released many, many years ago to a PC audience. The game has now risen once again to arrive on the consoles and PC with a fresh coat of paint and a few tweaks.


Constructor is very different to the majority of city builders, focusing much more on individual buildings and competitors. In this respect, you could view the game as a competitive town builder. It is all about building and managing a portfolio of properties, and keeping the tenants happy, while also making sure that any other budding landlords in the game have the most difficult time possible. It is very much the sort of situation that Channel 4 would do a documentary about.

To start with, there is a fairly extensive tutorial that will teach the player everything they need to know for property management on this level. As with all games of this genre, it can be a little intimidating at the very beginning, so a tutorial is welcome.

Then it comes to choosing a mode in which to play. In the campaign, the player is able to play against up to three AI or real life opponents. They are also able to change the winning conditions from small variety of different situations, and there are a few different maps that the game can take place on.


Hop in and there is a large area made up of plots of land. The player has their HQ, and then can start building a Lumber Yard before going on to build houses. The variety of different houses and other buildings is quite nice, as is the variety of different tenants, each of which come with their own pros and cons. Keeping the tenant happy is the goal for a healthy bank balance, and so requests from the tenants should be listened to as they complain about fences, bathrooms or neighbors. Give them what they want and watch the rent roll in. Build more houses, attract more of the right kind of tenant, and before you know it, you will have an empire.

But then there is the other, slightly more shady side of the game. It is here that you have to deal with attempts from your opponents to put a spanner in the works, all while putting your own spanners in their works. Undesirables are the key to this side of the game, and is where a lot of the fun comes in. Send hippies in to protest an opponents building, or simply have a street party to annoy their tenants. Have a thief steal the rent, a gangster burn down their buildings, or even killer clowns that are no fun at all, for the opponent. These guys all come from their own buildings and add a lovely maniacal flavour to the game. Add these to other difficulties to overcome, such as keeping the council happy or dealing with an outbreak of cockroaches, and you have a real challenge.

But there is more of a challenge to Constructor than those intended by the developers. Firstly, there is the fact that this is just a re-skinned version of a very old game, and a lot of that age does show despite the new coat of paint. The game is all controlled using an on-screen cursor that the player moves with the controller stick, and it doesn’t feel particularly fluid on Xbox One. There are shortcut buttons to certain aspects, but it takes a while to work out what they all are. As for the coat of paint, the game looks better than it did, but still looks very dated.

Then there are other aspects that disappoint. The game is incredibly difficult with seemingly insurmountable problems that can be dropped in very early in a game. It doesn’t help that the AI is incredibly proficient, and finding real world players to compete against is difficult as the game seems to have a very small community. Then you have the missions mode, which one would assume gives the player some kind of set scenarios to test themselves against. I have to assume though, as clicking on missions reveals that they are “coming soon”. Okay…


Constructor is a different twist on the city building genre that has the potential to be something quite special. It is quirky and humorous, and really unique. However, the game seems to be unfinished and, despite the HD remake, looks out of place in the modern market. Even as a retro game, Constructor is difficult to recommend due to the gameplay being so hard and the controls never feeling natural. Updates may make the game better over time, but right now the darker side of being a landlord would be best left to the players imagination.




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