Indie Games Uprising III Review: Smooth Operators: Call Center Chaos
Smooth Operators: Call Center Chaos by Andreas Heydeck Games is an office simulator with some comic relief. Smooth Operators has some addictive early playing, but it fails to make the later game as exciting or economical to continue.
Smooth Operators lets you control a budding call center from a one small office building with the hope of creating a 40-story monolith. The game utilizes micromanagement for many of the inner workings, and how you run your call center depends on how well you can manage the details. As the game progresses, this action becomes much easier, especially around 50- plus days.
Smooth is insanely addictive if you loved SimCity. It allows you to control many of the aspects of the call center and the character sprite animations are hilarious to watch, as are some of the employ thoughts. The inter-workings of the simulator work great and the game runs perfectly. For those unfamiliar of the game, Smooth Operators does start off with a handy and informative tutorial.
The micromanagement adds a sort of puzzle aspect to Smooth. You have to deal with angry employees and the prospect of being penalized if you don’t fulfill the vendor’s quota for the day (you can have negative money after a penalty, and workers are not especially happy if they don’t get paid for the day). You have to sprinkle in bathrooms and cafeterias so your staff doesn’t run home every hour for a potty and/or snack break. You need to stack the work place with a plethora of IT to kick the non-working computers into action, or risk the call center coming to a screeching halt. Then you need to overrun the place with an army of janitors to spruce up the place so your entire staff doesn’t give-up and quit while waiting for the one elevator to bring them to their floor.
The game is mesmerizing, and you risk losing most of your day playing if you are not careful.
Even with all the great things Smooth Operator has going for it, the game is not without its faults, or really a few criticisms that could make it better. The greatest point of frustration is the selection tool. With the controller, you move a small, white hand that easily gets lost in the hustle and bustle of the call center. Perhaps, if the selector became bigger upon movement or if it was a different color, it would be better.
Once the game hits about 50 days, the office should be close to self-sustaining, and Smooth Operators loses most of its objectives and sense of growth. The new contracts are few and far between, and the time to get a new contract does not appear to diminish with the addition of new accounts managers or upgrades. The game quickly allows for vertical growth, but the need to expand that quickly never arises because of the less than stellar work of the accounts managers of getting new accounts. You will be ready for rapid expansion, but your employees will just keep dropping the ball.
You want to build bigger, but at some point you just can’t. You would think you could build offices for future contracts and fill them in as needed, but once an office is designated to a certain vendor, for some reason it cannot be switched.
The only real hiccup in regards to gameplay was on a few occasions a poor janitor would get stuck in a flowtube, a type of advance elevator, sometime around the 80-day mark, and was more or less stuck there for the rest of eternity. Poor guys. This also meant the flowtube could not be replaced. The problem occurred after exiting the game without saving shortly after saving at midnight. Also, the game is finicky when deconstructing transportation devices; it wants all employees out of the system. So, when you select to deconstruct one, it waits for everyone to evacuate before the process goes through, this is why the janitor occupied one could never deconstruct. On more than one occasion, the device never deconstructed even when empty. However, shortly after upgrading it, the device did deconstruct.
Smooth Operators is an excellent city simulator with an inventive and unique micromanagement system. The game does have its flaws and becomes rather dull around 50 or 60 days, but the first 50 make this game a joy to play.
Final Rating: 8/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: XBLIG
Time to completion: 6 hours to 100 days
Gamer Score Earned: N/A
Price Bought at: 80 Microsoft Points ($1)
Current Price: 80 Microsoft Points ($1)
Recommend Purchase Price: 80 Microsoft Points ($1)
Why you should buy it: If you want to experience one of the best games XBLIG has to offer, or if you loved SimCity.
Why you shouldn’t buy it: If you hated SimCity, crack under pressure, can’t stand firing someone or have nightmares about working in a call center.