Build huge terminals, negotiate with airlines, optimize schedules, and keep your passengers happy in SimAirport! Expand with remote gates, light rails transit, larger planes, and overnight flights. Research to gain finer-grained control over finances, security, and flight schedules.
Format: PC via Steam
Play time so far: 25 hours
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SimAirport allows players to control the many aspects of owning and operating an airport. Players can start either with a prebuilt starter airport or a blank canvas. To get the basics of an airport up and running, they’ll need a ticketing area, security boundary, airplane gate, taxiway and runway, and baggage area. But there are many aspects beyond that that are necessary to successfully grow and build the player’s airport. For instance, the player will likely need to provide food or shopping areas in order to keep their passengers happy and will likely need to build offices, conference rooms, and dedicated areas for certain airlines in order to negotiate higher value deals. With improvements to their airport, players can handle larger planes with more crew, earn more income per passenger, and optimize movement around the airport. There are a number of ways to improve fine-grain control over the airport. For example, in order to take flights at night or during high winds, or to have control over buses and light rails that deliver passengers and staff to the airport.
I was pleased that there were many simulated aspects of the airport. Everything from negotiating with airlines in order to give them dedicated offices, restaurants, and first-class lounges, to maintaining oil pricing and fueling, running underground baggage lines, organizing kitchen prep to service cafes, and optimizing security throughput. Probably the biggest pain for me was the early game of the airport. There’s no way to skip over downtime when the player first starts out and they don’t have the ability to accept flights in the dark and there’s no way to skip over the night. The player has to sit with max fast forward and wait for nearly a minute for the night to pass every night until they can get lights in on their landing tracks. I also found that the player ends up sitting around a lot, just waiting for income. Just laying the foundation to build any new structures costs a significant amount of money as is expected, but I found myself AFK with the game on for nontrivial amounts of time, just to get the money, to be able to build something interesting and then leave it running again for a while.
Part of the building that I definitely liked was the multiple floors. This made sense a lot with different sizes of the airplanes. For example, large airplanes require docking from the second floor. I really enjoyed being able to build in those different layers. I ran baggage and fuel lines underground, had a lot of main facilities, such as ticketing, baggage, pickup, and security on the main floor, and then laid out gates on a second floor.
I also felt that the building staff were very well done. There were some breaks from reality that I thought were actually very valuable to the game. For instance, building staff were able to phase through walls if necessary to reach building sites without having to build a bunch of scaffolding or something similar. That was super valuable to me because it meant that I didn’t have to worry about micromanaging all of my builders and “Did I lay this thing in the right order such as they’re actually going to be able to do it”. And the staff don’t end up glitched out somewhere. I really appreciated just being able to say “go build this”. And they would be able to figure out some way to get there, get the parts, and get it done.
However, there were some aspects of the building that I found difficult. The biggest one was the item organization within the menu where players select items to build. I found it difficult to find things and I really wanted things to be organized by zone. If the player wants to build a ticketing zone, then all the things that probably apply to a ticket zone should be together, or just the ability to search ticketing and find all of those things. In lieu of that, I wanted to know what section an item was in after I found it. Then next time I wouldn’t have to search for it again. For example, I had trouble when I was trying to build my kitchen I wanted to find what I would call a “stove”, but neither that nor “kitchen” found the item because it was called a “cooker”. And then even after finding it, I don’t know what section it would’ve been under to try to find it again int he future. This was true for a lot of things, such as conveyors not showing up when looking for baggage related items.
For progression in the game, there’s a set of government grants that lead the player like quests through a number of different tracks. However, I didn’t find that they gave very good directions to the player. Some of the first tier items were not sustainable to afford the daily costs of early game, as I learned with my first airport that went bankrupt fairly quickly. All of these tracks are presented at once though, without indication of which are more appropriate for early or late game. After I completed all the government grants, I didn’t really feel like I built a particularly cool or advanced airport. I had done all grants and completed all the research, but my airport was still pretty small. It didn’t have all of the facilities and it just didn’t feel like the quest system had guided me all the way. In that regard, the grants seemed to both fall short of helping early or providing direction later. The player is better off being internally motivated, have an existing plan, and just accepting grants that will be beneficial for what they’re already planning on doing. Which can be a bit daunting for a new player that’s not familiar with the systems.
Overall, I liked SimAirport. I felt that some aspects of it were too slow or that they didn’t lead the player well, but it definitely had lots pf cool aspects of a real airport that I enjoyed. I liked building on multiple floors and I felt that the AI to get things built worked well with me. Although I did struggle with the item organization to find the things I wanted to build and the grants lead me to build things that weren’t particularly beneficial. I recommend SimAirport for players that are interested in building their own airports, that are comfortable laying out their own plans without guidance, and are willing to put in a significant amount of time to build up currency and infrastructure.
What building simulation games do you like?
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