Industry Manager: Future Technologies Review
In the future our green fields will be scarred by wheezing factories and mines that spout soot into the sky. Our cities will have become temples to commercialism, towering skyscrapers filled with neat rows of stores with everything for sale for a price. The clothes we wear will be lined with silicon and spewing out data to whichever global megacorp is listening, all to keep us in check. Meanwhile the games we play, the films we watch, the entertainment that we rely on, keeps us pacified.
Yet Industry Manager: Future Technologies is not a game about dystopian futures, where capitalism wins over the fate of the Earth, indeed the whole game takes on a disturbingly healthy green glow. It's not a game about corporate greed despite the entire goal being to accumulate as much money as possible and dominate any others that compete against you. Instead it is a game of numbers, with only one thing that really matters. The bottom line. It is a game so heavily invested in this concept that it drives itself into a rather uninteresting and frustrating grave.
A short tutorial gives the player an introduction into the management they will be facing in the actual game. The core concept is simply to produce and sell products in the town at a markup to ensure a profit. Products have many costs involved, from the purchasing of land, factories, shipping and staff to the resources required and the key is to keep these low while ending up with a high quality product that fetches a good retail price. The most efficient way to ensure this is to source all of those ingredients that go into the final product yourself, rather than purchasing them on the global market. Unfortunately some of these products have such long and intricate supply chains (as you might imagine for such things as clothing lined with computer chips) that it takes a huge (and potentially wasteful) investment to manufacture everyone within the company. Players must therefore trade on the stock market, sourcing what they can, to make that bottom line profitable.
And that is essentially it. You start off with a single patch of land, you build a factory, a warehouse, an R&D department to research through a surprisingly uninteresting futuristic tech tree, and a tower to sell your goods. Some products like software require next to no resources to make, while others force the player to build mines and farms to get what they need. All that matters is that you are making a profit. It is pure accountancy and economics at its absolute core and if that is what you are after then fine you’ll get your kicks here, but the issue is that Industry Manager: Future Technologies offers nothing else.
There’s one map, one mode (admittedly with several win conditions), no multiplayer and very limited computer AI, who seem to self destruct as time passes, to compete against you. And within the game there is nothing else to entertain the player, there are no intricate transport routes to construct (roads are added automatically as you add factories), no competition and conflict between players other than simple market economics and no payoff when you do sell your products. The world doesn’t evolve over time, and there are no big events that alter the market in tangible ways. In many ways it feels like a tech demo for a far larger project, as if you have already zoomed in a single area, but cannot find how to return to the global map.
Comparing it to some other recent management strategy games, one might consider Industry Manager: Future Technologies to be the little brother of Offworld Trading Company, who stayed on Earth and studied logistics instead of jetting off to Mars to trade in oxygen prices and perform some explosive corporate espionage. Meanwhile his sister disappeared off into the deplorable world of Big Pharma and while she certainly does not have his head for numbers, she is at least having fun creating ridiculous factory lines to make questionable and dubiously useful drugs. He’s jealous of both of them.
Admittedly Industry Manager: Future Technologies is at least quite well produced. It’ll run fine and bug-free on most machines, and the world it portrays (a very green and idyllic view of the actual near future we will sadly experience) is vaguely interesting to zoom around in that SimCity kind of way, even if you have no hand in creating anything other than your factories. There are also some sexy statistics that can be summoned within the many window pop-ups, if that’s your kind of thing. Meanwhile in the background the jangly slightly futuresque elevator music is mildly entertaining for a few seconds before you’re forced to mute it in a fit of rage.
Industry Manager: Future Technologies is made for a single market: those that enjoy managing logistics and statistics. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, personally I’ve clocked hundreds of hours on a whole history of Sim and Tycoon games, but its greatest issue is that it offers absolutely nothing else. Within hours you will have experienced all it has to offer, and even that will have been rather dull and uneventful. With such competition in the current PC climate, Industry Manager: Future Technologies will no doubt struggle to find a home which is a shame since there is clearly some talent to the team behind it, the issue is they seem to lack direction. In the end it all feels like an experience with its single purpose driven so hard into it that it has no concept of the entertainment a game should bring.