One of the masterpieces in the niche genre of business management simulation, Black Gold lets you manage the unique and intriguing oil business. When the game was first released as Oil Imperium, it garnered quite a sizable following and soon became one of reLINE's biggest hits - and for good reason. |
What makes Black Gold a classic that is eminently replayable isn't the solid economic model, unique premise, or even realism although the game has all three qualities. Rather, it's the game's focus on fun as opposed to complicated details that are the pitfalls of most business sims. You start out by choosing the goal you want to accomplish from four available options: "best after 3 years", "more than $60 million capital", "ruin all other players", and "80% of market share". These goals have a different duration of play (e.g. a game of "80% of market share" usually takes the longest to finish) and require different strategies. The game is turn-based, with each turn representing one month in-game time. During a turn, you can choose which action to perform from a wide variety, ranging from the mundane (buy and sell oil fields, buy expert surveys, read the newspaper) to the exotic (sabotage your opponent's oil fields, hire private investigator, etc.). There are special events that occur randomly, such as an offer of delivery contracts that obligate you to provide the agreed amount of oil in a specified region. The game even includes a court system, in which you can lose oil fields if your saboteur is discovered. Similar to another classic, Ports of Call, Black Gold also spices things up with 3 action sequences that represent business decisions: drilling for oil, laying pipelines, and fighting oilfield fires. You can avoid most of these sequences by hiring someone else to do the job, although I find them to be at just the right balance between fun and challenge.
With a unique premise that is being profited on, solid gameplay, and a lot of fun, Black Gold will delight everyone who likes business simulations, except perhaps those who prefer more realistic and complex games such as Capitalism Plus. Too bad the development of reLINE's Oil Imperium 2 has been cancelled :(Reviewed by: Underdogs