In Entrepreneur you assume the role of a company executive in an attempt to take over the world ... market. You employ sales reps, marketing campaigns, price controls and government bribes to take over product markets in sales regions across the world. Oh, I almost forgot: you can also improve your product. You start with a company headquarters (complete with garage to begin production) and a little start-up capital. From these meager beginnings, you get to battle it out with "Mitrosoft" and other evil minions from up to eight rival companies.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
This is the biggest disappointment in the game. While it's easy enough to navigate from place to place, it is difficult to find all the information you need to make strategic decisions. In order to find the comparative value of regions for site location or troop deployment, you must click on them individually and remember their relative values. There is no summary screen or report that will let you know how you're doing in each area where you have sales. It is very distressing to find out that your home base has been eroded while you've had your attention on the front lines, particularly as there is no indication that you're under attack before the territory turns color on you (indicating loss of control).
Stardock is quite pleased with the enemy AI and touts it as quite sophisticated. I can't say if that's true or not. All I can say is that some opponents were very easy to defeat and others were nigh to impossible. I have no doubt that Stardock's claims of inner intricacies are justified, but they could just as easily have given the enemies better luck. There is little interaction with your foes and no reports or summarized information about them.
The idea behind Entrepreneur is intriguing. Make a real war game out of business. Entrepreneur is very much a war game, with territories won and lost and the market share to be divided by the victors. So far, so good. As I progressed, though, I couldn't help feeling that I was playing a complicated Risk game with neat names. There is no campaign option, so you're pretty much limited to fighting an endless procession of take-over-the-world, every-man-for-himself type market domination scenarios. It got old fast.
Difficulty depends on what AI you draw. Some games I won in 8 game years (on medium difficulty). Other games, it seemed I was winning only to lose it all to some mad marketing genius (Bill Gates has invaded my computer). And I remain confused by the logic in the victory conditions. It seems that the more players there are, the less actual market percentage you need to win a monopoly. That just doesn't make sense. Well, it does if you're playing a wargame and just have to win one scenario, but you can hardly call 55% of a market that still has 5 major vendors a monopoly, while you need 70% if there are only two. Furthermore, it gave a very strange incentive to keep players alive because if you destroyed one, the victory condition changed.
Entrepreneur had the interesting idea to design the game with multiple markets in mind. It ships with the computer market, but other markets are planned for the future. I checked out the automobile market shortly after it came out. As with other parts of Entrepreneur, the idea was more intriguing than the execution. Essentially, the Automobile market changed the name and costs of the product, but didn't customize any of the rest of the game. You had the same sales reps and the same event cards. Even the names of computerized opponents stayed the same. Again, as with enemy AI, the workings of the changes were extremely subtle and entirely eclipsed by other game elements (the lower sales figures from the bigger ticket items led to much more careful expansion).
Room for Improvement
A little honing would go a long way for Entrepreneur. Provincial reports with sales figures and enemy presence would be extremely useful and overcome much of the problem of clicking back and forth when trying to place resources. Also, any insight into the workings of your enemies (spy reports, Wall Street summaries, vice-president suggestions, anything) would greatly enhance the gaming experience.
Entrepreneur has a lot of potential. It's a great idea and it certainly caught my eye. I found the actual execution to be a disappointment, though. After the initial glow and exploration, it quickly became tedious. This needn't be fatal, but some hefty design changes are necessary to pull this game up to the expectations I had from the descriptions and cover copy.
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Emperor of The Fading Suns, Evolution: The Game of Intelligent Life, Gangsters 2: Vendetta, Enemy Nations, Business Tycoon, Europa 1400: The Guild, Europa Universalis: Crown of the North, Europa Universalis 2
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