After you’ve bowed to a wealthy tenant’s demands and blown up their neighbour’s giant gnome, then sent a gang of yobs out to terrorise a rival council’s estate – backed up by a hippy holding a street rave to distract their council workers – by tossing bins and jeering, other city management games can feel a little dry. System 3’s 1997 game Constructor was that, a build ’em up with a strong kick of burn ’em down. It probably ruined other city management games for me.
Constructor divided your attention between building up your properties and pleasing your residents and trashing your enemies’. Starting from a single block of shacks, you’d build up a tech tree and outwards to sprawling estates with rich and poor, parks and factories, tenants and ‘undesirables.’ This special class of resident could be sent on terrible missions against your rivals. Plumbers trash pipes to flood houses, psychos chainsaw down fences to scare residents and weaken buildings for hostile takeovers, mobsters lend you money and whack enemy units, clowns play with fire, and so on. I fondly recall their silly voiced lines with daft British accents.
I never played much of the campaign, but I adored the sandbox mode.
A fair few folks behind the original game, including lead programmer John Twiddy, are working on the HD version. It’ll bring “re-imagined graphics”, an “enhanced interface” including wider zoom, new modes, new maps, and a rebalancing.
The original Constructor was available on GOG, but was pulled in September 2014 when its rights changed hands. Constructor HD’s producer says he “can’t comment on” whether it’ll return. Its sequel Mob Rule is still on GOG but pfffffff, it wasn’t as good.
I still find the original’s ’90s CGI cutscene style charming – check the intro: