Cartel Magnate Breaking Bad review
Games

Cartel Magnate – Breaking Bad. review

The slippery slope of a criminal entrepreneur who starts at the bottom of life and rises to become the head of a crime syndicate has been amply described in literature, films and television series. But there aren’t that many gaming adaptations on such fertile ground (and fewer good ones). And Cartel Tycoon confidently fills that niche. And while the “cartel simulator” doesn’t forget to address the ethical aspects of criminal entrepreneurship, it still focuses on the business side of the phenomenon. Business is business, and when colossal cash flows are involved, emotions take a back seat to the ability to manage resources, skillfully lead subordinates, and competently interact with authorities and competitors. If necessary, then with the use of shooting arguments.

    Whether on purpose or not, the authors succeeded in creating social nuances: problems in society, horrendous unemployment and desperation among the citizens lead to crime

The authors succeeded in social appeal: Problems in society, horrendous unemployment and desperation among the citizens lead to crime

Negocio’s son Negocios

Our company starts out on a small scale: with a few farms growing various crops (both illegal opium, coca and cannabis, as well as perfectly legal coffee, avocados and vegetables), and warehouses from which all goods grown are distributed to the next outlets. However, if airports and marinas don’t fall within the scope of storage options, we need to add a transport company to tie our network together. It also pays to ensure that each building remains operational and stocked with all the necessary raw materials and stocks do not crawl above the capacity threshold as this would draw police attention.

Further business development depends on personal preferences and, of course, the desire to establish complex technological processes. In order to create a better (and of course more expensive) range, the production chain must be examined in detail. For example, selling cocaine would require a combination of a coca farm, dryers, and laboratories; a chemical plant is also needed to produce heroin; and to follow in Walter White’s footsteps (exclusively in-game, of course) you need to upgrade the buildings of factories long and hard to be able to cook Metanfetamine.

    It will also not be superfluous to hire a couple of lieutenants - they can transport the “product” and will take part in the struggle for the enterprise

It will also not be superfluous to hire a couple of lieutenants – they can transport the “product” and will take part in the struggle for the enterprise

Such improvements require certain technologies, which can be found in the branching tree of development. It also offers other improvements to virtually every aspect of our business, from increasing sales volumes to creating paved roads that deliver our “products” even faster. And you can also buy a workshop that will pack our illegal goods into completely harmless vegetables. But it will require a colossal amount of net money to start researching this and other key technologies.

Washing up rustling presidents is a nuisance, especially in the early stages of the game when the vast majority of wins are pretty dirty. After all, in order to “launder” money, one must “launder” money – city institutions, where you can arrange a bathing day for dirty savings, are bought exclusively for “honestly acquired” banknotes. If at least one laundry office is not built early, there is a risk of “drowning” in dirty cash, and in this case it is better to start the party all over again. In addition, city buildings have other useful functions – for example, building a cathedral or stadium will increase loyalty among locals as a capo, a university will open the opportunity to study more advanced technologies, and special events can be held in a casino or Salsa club, which makes us a cult figure among the townspeople.

    The mayor may have

The mayor may have “pocket money,” but his services will still cost a pretty penny

People’s love should not be neglected, because this is not a simple indicator that amuses an exorbitant ego, but a serious help in business. The crowd favorite and enemy gangs are less likely to be attacked, and the police are more likely to ignore our affairs, and our lieutenants are more effective in combat. But as soon as this indicator falls to zero, the angry townsfolk will immediately raise the unfortunate capo to the pitchfork.

Roughly the same thing happens when our business is pretty bloody – competitors or the police. With every battle, with every conquest of enemy production, with every crime that an unbalanced lieutenant commits (a separate character trait is responsible for this), the terror indicator grows. And with that, the intensity of the raids by the authorities on our property increases, and distribution channels and production buildings are blocked. And of course, once the scales hit their maximum, the special forces treat the overbearing drug lord with a dose of lead.

    The death of a capo doesn't always mean the end of the game - if you have at least one lieutenant left, the game will continue, although serious damage will be done to our cartel

The death of a capo doesn’t always mean the end of the game – if you have at least one lieutenant left, the game will continue, although serious damage will be done to our cartel

three ways

Maneuvering between the desire for rapid expansion, the love of the people and the attention of the authorities will take place in three different game modes. First, of course, in the plot. A few scenarios of varying complexity and duration will immerse the bigwigs of the underworld in everyday life. Unfortunately, they turned out to be quite lengthy – the dramaturgy is completely wrong here and resembles a representation from any mobile game of a similar genre. The stories are extremely straight forward, the characters are not kept within the framework of their own characters, and the literary basis itself conjures up the unflattering word “graphomania” in my head at times. But the story mode also has a much bigger problem: they don’t let you play at your own pace, pushing themselves too intrusively within the framework of gameplay and conventions.

Much more attractive is the sandbox, where you can manage the cartel as you wish. Here you can choose a capo with preferred skills and a region from the start. The terrain (or rather the local soil) largely determines what “commodities” we trade, and consequently the complexity of the production processes. Here you can also configure other parameters: starting capital (both “clean” and “dirty”), the cost of studying technologies and constructions, prices for goods and much more. In a word, no regime – a fairy tale!

    The lieutenants call us regularly and issue various orders.  No sense of rank!

The lieutenants call us regularly and issue various orders. No sense of rank!

And if you suddenly don’t have enough sharpness in the everyday life of a drug lord, then you should definitely pay attention to the “Survival” mode. Some of the parameters here are also adjustable, but in the game itself you have to face the machinations of the corrupt police chief Panfilo Ramos, as well as the regular risk of bankruptcy and constant threats of violent death. In a word, a rich simulation of a criminal existence…

***

Cartel Tycoon is full of interesting finds and rather subtle nuances that will last a couple of dozen hours. But the deeper we delve into the everyday world of the cartel, the more obvious its problems become. The main reason is the extreme clumsiness, expressed in too many technologies and requirements for their discovery (as if playing time would be particularly extended). Also, the fun is marred by very odd balancing features, bizarre logistical incidents, and a totally unpredictable bunch of random events. The latter are quite capable of literally destroying an ideally (well, practically) built empire in just a minute – like a tornado blowing away a house of cards. Perhaps it would have been worth cooking this “product” a little more in Early Access, then it would have come out at the highest level.

Advantages:

  • curious economic strategy with many intriguing nuances;
  • Game modes for every taste…

Defects:

  • …but the plot was frankly unsuccessful;
  • Some chains are terribly tight and the gameplay as a whole won’t affect balancing.

graphic

Visually, Cartel Tycoon is fairly simple and even, to be honest, deadpan. However, some graphic elements (e.g. construction screens, animations of various processes, character portraits) still manage to live up to the chosen aesthetic.

sound

The sound design turned out to be more functional than aesthetic – processes, situations and events have their own specific and quite recognizable sound, which makes navigating the nuanced game world easier.

But the problem with the musical content. It seems that this component of the project is obvious: a dozen or two groovy Latin compositions – and the trick is in the bag. But alas, the parties are instead accompanied by rather faded melodies that fail to set the mood and are not memorable.

single player game

Multiple game modes, interesting strategic and economic features, and some balance issues will keep you entertained for a couple of evenings.

Estimated travel time

Single player scenarios last between three and fifteen hours. Games in the sandbox can last even longer because we are free to build an empire as we please. But if the drug lord “survives”, a fairly quick punishment awaits or not: too much is left to chance.

collective game

A multiplayer option was also noticed among the game modes in early access (not available at the time), and the developers realized that they were designing the game with multiplayer confrontations in mind. Unfortunately, even a memory of the network component disappeared with the release.

overall impression

Imperfect, but quite exciting economic simulator in the unusual environment of everyday cartel work. There are odd nuances and a potentially strong base, but overall it’s a bit damp.

Rating: 7.0/10

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About the author

Alan Foster

Alan Foster covers computers and games and all the news in the gaming industry.

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