Monday, March 15, 2010

Why settle for a measly old mansion? - a review of Be Rich

Did you play Build-a-lot? Let's just say you did. And let's say you wanted something similar, but different. That's where Be Rich comes in. Today I'll tell you what I thought of this money-grubbing real estate game!

What I liked

  • Freedom to choose building locations
  • Lots of levels
  • Graphics and interface
  • Upgrades

What I didn't like

  • Some very difficult expert goals
  • Limited selection of buildings



Quick Plot

Accomplish construction goals for cities all over the United States to successfully build up your real estate business.


Mechanics

Time Management: Each level has an Expert goal. To get the Expert ranking for a level, you have to finish it within a certain number of days. If you achieve the Expert goal, you get more prestige and money. If you don't achieve the Expert goal, you don't lose the level or anything. You simply don't get the minor benefits of Expert status.

Building: This is a construction and money-making game. You'll build 3 types of buildings:
  • Houses
  • Buildings, and
  • Decorations.
Houses earn rent, Buildings are various types of shops and consumer attractions that earn extra income, and Decorations add value and attractiveness to Houses.


Mansion, Chateau, and Apartment Block - 3 high-end houses



Highlights

Freedom of Choice: In contrast to Build-a-lot, which forces you to build in designated lots, Be Rich instead gives you gridded areas. You can put a building anywhere on a gridded area, as long as it fits. This means that you get to decide exactly how your buildings are arranged in relation to each other, which affects how much money you can earn from a particular layout.

Game Length: There are 40 levels in the standard game mode (Career Mode). This makes for a pretty good length. Then, to add in more gameplay, there is a Sandbox Mode. This gives you more of the same gameplay (levels with prescribed goals) but expands the territory beyond a single screen. In this mode, you can scroll across a broader territory. I haven't played all of the Sandbox levels, but there appear to be 6.

And if you care to work for them, there are a number of trophies to earn, as in many time management games. These trophies appear on the map screen.


Level map and trophy room.

Graphics and Interface: The 2D graphics are colorful and detailed. Buttons are shiny, and buildings are cool looking. The interface is easy to use, so you won't find yourself confused. This game is nice to look at. The camera perspective is directly head on, with no angle, just like Hotel Mogul.


Upgrades: In a game that is otherwise fairly light on features, you are at least offered a bundle of upgrades. These can be purchased as you earn money for completing levels. Each upgrade adds a new building to your business empire, or adds a new section to your main office headquarters. These upgrades add bonuses to your gameplay, making levels easier. This shows up as things like quicker production and random rent checks popping up on houses.


Issues

Expert Rank: I often like to push for the
master goals in games like this. In the Farm Frenzy series, for example, I don't move onto the next level until I've achieved the Gold medal on the current level.

In Be Rich, you earn Expert ranking on a level if you finish it in a certain number of days. For the first dozen or so levels, this was no problem. After that, it became a struggle. I got really close on a few levels, but most of the later levels had incredibly difficult Expert requirements.

The bummer for me was that the game didn't compel me to work for it. Neither the gameplay nor the Expert reward were interesting or engaging enough to make me really desire that higher standard of achievement. It's my opinion that Expert goals in a game should offer valuable payoff for success. When I missed the Expert goal in this game, I just shrugged and moved on.

Not Much Variety: I recently reviewed Coconut Queen. One of the great features of that game is the wide variety of buildings you can construct. But in Be Rich, you're limited to
  • 7 Houses
  • 5 Buildings, and
  • 5 Decorations.
And after a while, there were only about 3 House types I wanted to build. The various Buildings and Decorations still got frequent use though.

A few more building options would have helped to keep my interest.


Your business empire. It grows visibly with each upgrade you buy.



Suitable for the family?

There's nothing either offensive or attractive to children in this game. The halflings watched me play sometimes, but usually asked me to switch to a different game.
Kids seem to gravitate to games with notable characters, and this game has none.



The family man's final ruling

The game is fun. It kept me playing until the end, and it was pleasant to look at. The music is mediocre and the English is poor and awkward at times. The story offers nothing meaningful, so I usually just clicked through the text.

The best thing about the game is the freedom to choose where you place each building, so that you can make the building types interact for maximum profit. For instance, a movie theater benefits from having lots of Apartments next to it, and any building will earn more money if it's constructed on a premium lot.

The worst thing about the game is the lack of variety or change. You're pretty much doing the same thing all game, and while it is fun, it didn't really shine in any way. I probably like it more than Build-a-lot, though.

If you're going to try Be Rich, you might also want to try its sequel, which manages to boast an even more hedonistic title: Be Richer.


A standard level. This happens to be a wintery one.
The stars indicate premium lots, which earn you more money.



You'll like the game if...

  • You like real estate and building games
  • You want more freedom of layout than Build-a-Lot offers

You won't like the game if...

  • You want lots of variety, features, and extras


My rating:

If you want to play Be Rich, click below:

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