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Detailed and absorbing business sim
Playing Cartel$ and Cutthroat$ really is a lesson in history as much as it is a game, as it is one of the earliest examples of the business sim, and paved the way for such gems as Ports of Call, Baron and Railroad Tycoon. While the game is undeniably basic in terms of visuals and presentation, it remains a surprisingly complex and detailed experience which has much to offer to the budding entrepreneur. The subject matter may not sound particularly enticing, and for many gamers, it won't prove to be much fun, with its concepts of supply and demand, finance and economics proving quite heavy, but which prove surprisingly addictive for those of the right frame of mind. The game takes the form of a series of scenarios, for example with players being awarded a manufacturing plant which must be managed successfully, taking into account various business related matters like GDP, demand, inflation and so on. Matters proceed via memos, reports, graphs and the occasional fairly crude visual image, with players making decisions about their output, which markets to enter and pretty much everything else a real business needs to consider. Considering its age, this is an impressively detailed sim which offers just about everything the armchair business person could hope for. It is obviously lacking in visual flair, with most of the game being text-based, but the complexity and depth on display here more than make up for any complaints about presentation. The game is obviously not for everyone, and action or adventure seekers are advised to stay well clear but if you enjoy serious strategy games mixed with real-world business affairs, then this is a great retro experience.