GAMETECH: It’s a riot building a prison

Who knew that confining 140 prisoners to one holding cell, with no janitor, no work or education, just six benches to sleep on and not enough food would lead to a riot?

Even so, did they really need to get the army involved? Only a quarter of the convicts died, after all.

In Prison Architect, you start with nothing but an empty field and a dream. On that field, you will build the perfect prison, a place where both the accountants and the convicts will be happy. The prisoners will serve their time productively and in comfort, while the cash just keeps on rolling in. It seems like a simple dream – until one day the CEO calls, charging you with criminal negligence.

You may start with an empty field, but the prison foundations must be laid quickly, because the first lot of convicts will arrive in 24 hours. They need a holding cell, a warden’s office, kitchen and a mess hall for starters. You’ll also need to lay down a power generator, electrical wiring, a water pump and pipes. Otherwise nothing will work. The problem is, everything costs money, including staff, like the guards and construction workers that keep the prison in good order.

If you overspend too soon, then there won’t be adequate facilities for the next lot of prisoners, who will arrive the following day. Every morning new convicts arrive, each one a source of cash, but each one also putting further strain on your prison system. Too much strain and, well, let’s just say the army will start polishing their riot gear.

Your first penitentiaries are doomed to failure. Far too late, you will realise that some early mistake has unravelled everything. The kitchen is too small for the number of convicts. The lack of medical is hampering your security team. The maximum security prisoners are out of control due to no solitary confinement cells. Your refusal to build a visitation centre has left the prisoners angry. (Or maybe you simply placed 140 convicts into one holding cell with just two toilets).

Prison Architect is brilliant fun in spite of those inevitable failures. It’s almost impossible to build the perfect prison, but it is possible to get better and better, to learn from your mistakes and make changes the next time. Soon, your personality starts to shape the system you create. Maybe your prisoners will be reformed and educated, with a popular chapel service and busy workshops. Perhaps you will line the building with solitary confinement cells, and with cameras and metal detectors, punishing anyone who steps out of line. Or maybe you’ll just put TVs in every room and build a big yard for the prisoners to relax in. Whatever the case, once you see a flaw in the design (and you will) then you can sell the prison and use the cash to start anew, with better resources this time.

Introversion have been refining Prison Architect for three years now. The game started as early access, but it goes on full release next week. It’s a riot (especially when you fail).

No evolution for PC gamers

Meanwhile, Konami has continued to commit crimes against PC gamers everywhere with the release of Pro Evolution Soccer 2016. Reports are surfacing that the PC version of the game (which is fantastic on Xbox One and PS4) is actually based upon the PlayStation 3 version of the engine. This means the animations and graphics are, effectively, last generation standards. The demo, which is available on Steam, certainly ratifies these concerns.

Last year’s version of PES was also a mess on PC, with online games erratic and nearly impossible to find locally. Unfortunately, buyers are reporting these problems persist in this year’s version, despite minor improvements in gameplay. To make matters worse, the game doesn’t even support higher resolutions, with black borders at the top and bottom of the screen.

It’s a pity to see Konami treat PC gamers with distain, but at least the console versions of PES 2016 are looking good. In fact, this might be the first year in long time that PES beats Fifa. Just don’t buy it on PC. It’s like buying a ticket to see United, only for a reserve team to walk out.


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