Amusing but shallow little game.
Druglord is- above all else- very tongue in cheek. While pious people may not find joking about drug dealing and other crimes funny or right, this is definitely a game with a sense of humor. The game's menu comes complete with a stereotypical thuggish accent, and the whole game plays like a comic version of a bad 70's exploitation B-grade film. This makes the otherwise leaden concept of a financial simulation game new and fun. (dunno about you, but selling lemonade kinda gets old.)
Gameplay, once it gets going, is amusing and somewhat addictive. It can be hard to start out, but once there's a little rhythm going, you can buy, sell, and bargain your way to millionaire status.
It's bizarre that overcoats cost so much- you have to buy coats to increase your holding potential, but why in God's name would one cost $20,000?
Police are very annoying in this game- early levels are okay, when there's one or two cops; you can usually, unarmed, take them out. Armed, a few cops are okay, too. But later on, when your status is really high, you can get surrounded by gangs of 20 or more! You aren't apprised of the size of the police force when asked if you want to call a posse together- and even then, your posse shows up unarmed (!) and undermanned. If you're lucky, you may have a cache of 4 or 5 guns to distribute, but you'll still be facing an armed force 4 times the size of your group. Running away isn't an option, since the more cops there are, the lower the chances of a successful getaway. Your health drains pretty quickly when there's 20 cops shooting at you, and attempting to run away means you aren't allowed to fight at all. So, in other words, once you've hit about $1 million, if you're caught by cops, you're dead.
No matter how well armed you are, you are simply not allowed to confront muggers! Especially early on in the game, muggers are the bane of your being, because if your rep is below a certain level, they take all of the money you are carrying. If your rep is above a certain level, you can "spend" your reputation points to avoid losing your money- important if a loan shark is after you, but it seems odd that if I were armed with 4 automatic rifles that I couldn't fight back.
Finally, if you're carrying pot, your girlfriend will occasionally bake it into pot brownies and eat it. All of your pot. If you're carrying 60 kilos she eats 60 kilos. This is fairly amusing now that I think about it, but it is annoying when it happens in-game, and it's the only drug susceptible to theft/loss.
Starting a game usually involves resetting the game multiple times to get a good beginning. It's really hard to start out fresh and make it work, especially if you're initially dropped in an expensive-transportation city with high drug prices. (Hint: LA/San Diego are the only two cities you need.)
There also appears to be no end- or goal- to the game short of dying (which in a moralistic sense may be what they are trying to say). I usually set myself a goal of $1 million- I've been trying for $2 million, but can't quite get it yet. Without an actual goal, though, it can seem fairly pointless.
The Bottom Line
It's odd, and definitely not for all tastes. There's no graphics and little gameplay, but what is there is fun and mildly addictive.
When playing, the most important thing is to watch the fluctuations of drug prices; you'll notice each drug fluctuates around a standard point (pot, for example, usually wavers between 200 to 500 dollars). Once the median prices get ingrained in your head, it's a cinch to buy low and sell high.
Until the day EA/Maxis comes out with that long-anticipated "SimPusher" (and where's "SimPimp"?), though, this will probably be the best- and only- illicit drug business simulator around.
by Robert Morgan (1050) on July 21st, 2000