Tower 3D is an aircraft simulator game that’s aimed towards the more casual gamer, with a much more simplistic view compared to many of the high-end simulator games available. Don’t let that fool you, though, the game is still incredibly difficult and quite complex. Although this complexity does cause some rather major issues later on.
The upcoming complexities are hidden by a rather simple menu layout that does make it very easy to navigate around. Once you take a good look at it, you discover it’s rather disappointing though, with only a few options to alter in-game mechanics from here. Choose from one of 3 airports – St.Thomas, LA or Philadelphia, each one progressing in its apparent difficulty. You can change the traffic density slider and alter the environment/time you wish to play. Strangely the Environment/time option seemed to only change the game backdrop. This new ‘image’ didn’t seem to have any impact on either the aircraft or options available when you begin a new game, which is a shame, as altering the weather to stormy, for example, should have altered how the planes reacted.
Hit start and the game begins with a very basic tutorial, It does a good job of explaining just what the main 4 areas on your screen are: Command Panel, DBRITE (radar) ADIRS and Strip. This brief explanation, however, misses out a lot of the key game mechanics. This missing information will definitely cause you issues once your airport becomes busy, and it does, very quickly. The most infuriating problem that seemed to arise from this was what to do when you have planes blocking a runway, terminal or more frequently, each other? With no information available on screen to help, you end up having planes littered around your airport that you just can’t shift. After a few plays through, you do start to get the hang of just what’s needed and how you control the planes around your airport- move this one, land this one, make that one stay there etc. As in real life, the controls are very unforgiving, one mistake causes a mountain of problems for you. Not only do collisions happen, but you are also deducted points for any mistake, although what the points are for is anyone’s guess.
Unfortunately for Tower 3D it is littered with problems – from the poor tutorial, to planes that just won’t move, to the graphics themselves being extremely low quality. Whack everything up to ’11’ in the menu and it doesn’t really improve things, with the airport and planes appearing blurred, with jagged textures everywhere. As if to go hand in hand with that, the GUI leaves a lot to be desired, the clumsy looking and very muddled screens make for a mass of unknown information. With no tool tips, descriptions or any real way to organise these screens into a coherent order, they all begin to meld into one another as a mass of unorganized text. The Command Panel, for instance, shows a mass of information with no descriptions at all about what each button does – Follow Company for example, who is company and why are you following them?
Located back on the start menu there is actually a help button, this can’t be accessed from in game in anyway that I could see. Once clicked, it links you out of the game and on to a web page where the official game manual can be found. Utilizing this feature however feels old and outdated, as if the games manual was indeed an after thought, and looking at some of the comments on Steam, it appears that it was. The information contained within the manual should have been included within the games tutorial.
Alas, thanks to all the issues it feels very unfinished, feeling much more like an early-access or Kickstarter game, rather than a fully released title. Tower 3D feels like its trying to be something, but it’s not quite able to figure out just what that something is. With jumbled controls but a basic layout, it feels like it has attempted to find a middle ground between casual and pure simulator type games, and its failed quite badly at it. With a bit of work, this could be quite a good airport simulation game. Beneath all its faults lies a very good, very accurate simulator, that could go on to be a great game, but as it stands at the moment, it falls short by a very long way.