City and business simulations are nothing new for developer Deep Red, whose previous efforts include games like Vegas Tycoon, Spring Break, and the well-received Monopoly Tycoon. Their newest effort, Tycoon City New York, is another decent entry to the genre whose strong suit is its excellent and detailed graphics. The interface elements in the game are also fairly well conceived, but the overall package suffers from gameplay that doesn't offer much challenge, eliminating any sense of tension.
The game offers two gameplay modes: sandbox, which lets you build with complete freedom on a clean slate, and the "build New York" mode, which is a more structured campaign. The latter will have you working to re-create Manhattan island borough by borough, starting with the bohemian hangout of Greenwich Village on up through other famous areas like Soho/Tribeca, the East Village, and midtown. The first couple of levels of the game are basically an extended tutorial that teaches you the basics, from how to move the camera to more esoteric details, including all the interface tools you have available to you. This tutorial is presented at a sensible pace, not overwhelming you with too many things at first, and interjecting with further details as you need to learn them.
The premise is that you're a business owner looking to develop the city. You can build everything from housing to restaurants, grocery stores, clothing shops, nightclubs, bars, and even cultural centers like museums. The point of the game is to grow the city by satisfying the needs of its residents, which are represented via bar graphs any time you click on an apartment building. This method of distribution means that the game's focus is very area-specific. In fact, any time you place a business, you'll see a sphere of influence pop up around your shop that highlights the demand for that type of business among the nearby residential buildings. This makes smart placement of your shops fairly intuitive. The game also gives you bonuses for placing buildings of similar purpose near one another; in this way, you can create subdistricts within each area, such as a shopping area full of secondhand clothing shops and cafes, or a nightlife area with several clubs and bars in close proximity. The more successful you are at smart placement of your business, the more foot and vehicle traffic you'll see.
The amount of detail you'll see in the city as your neighborhoods grow is the best aspect of Tycoon City New York. Once you've got a neighborhood in full swing, it's pretty fun to stop and watch the people walk down the street and into your stores, or sit down at your cafes and have a meal on an outdoor patio table. The buildings all look great, with details ranging from stone steps to row houses, neon-lit store facades, and iron fire escapes from multistory apartments. As you zoom into the action, you'll hear the din of conversation and vehicle traffic, and even some random chatter from the passersby about the quality of living in the neighborhood or their opinion about a store. There's also a day/night cycle that gives you a different look for your city as transitions between day and night are made.