Post Master PC game review
Set up and run your own mail distribution business and pit your commercial brain against your competitor who will try to open more post offices, offer better services and deliver people’s mail quicker and more cheaply than you can. Welcome to the cut-throat world of Post Master.
Who’d of thought that you could build a simulator about running a postal business?
It’s not just about deliveries though as, in Post Master, constant customer and staff satisfaction is the key to success.
Right from the word go, you’ll be acquiring premises, recruiting staff, buying vehicles and keeping as many customers as possible satisfied. But as anyone who’s started their own business knows, it’s a real balancing act keeping everyone happy.
Whilst running your business you’ll need to improve your company’s profile by installing new mailboxes, building new post offices and delivering mail on time, every time whilst generating revenue via stamp sales, delivering letters and parcels and having the friendliest and most efficient post office staff.
Not only that, you’ll have to buy and maintain a fleet of vehicles, employ security staff to prevent robberies as well as incentivising your staff so they can perform efficiently when dealing with customers and sorting mail. Oh, there’s also advertising campaigns to run too!
Yup, Post Master could get quite involved.
Please, Mr Postman
Setting up your empire unfortunately doesn’t include sending a bunch of people with bags out in to the city. You get a nice variety of vehicles to choose from, starting with the humble bicycle and ranging through motorbikes, cars, vans, and even trucks.
As Postmaster is strategy-based all of these modes of transport have their own clear advantages and disadvantages. You start off with access to bicycles and then have to work in order to gain access to the others and as you unlock them you get to learn about their individual foibles.
As well as collecting and delivering you need a public-facing workforce so you’ll need to hire personnel to work in your post offices on the customer service desks, sorters to get your mail ready to post and Security to stop your offices being robbed.
Surprisingly enough you don’t need to hire actual postmen or women – I guess that they come bundled free with the vehicles you purchase.
Once you’ve hired your workers and bought your vehicles you’re almost ready to go. Even though your postmen and women seem to be free gifts you can’t just let them go out choosing which bits of the city they’re going to work in. Each vehicle must be given a set path around the blocks of your town, and how often you want them to go out there, this is the main mechanic of the game and using this strategically with the vehicles at your disposal will allow you to efficiently service your town.
Demand sets off pretty high from the get-go so you’ll find yourself in the thick of it straight away and I had trouble keeping up with the competing Post Master until I got a hang of things. One thing that became apparent was the catchment area that different sized post offices could control and that a simple truck will allow you to service almost the whole of a coverage area in one full sweep. Handy things to keep in mind before spending your money and stars.
You can keep tabs on your competitor via the statistics page. Here you can track how your figures compare with your rival.
This was one of the few games that I had to go back and go through the tutorial as I found some icons a tad confusing and some actions weren’t that intuitive. Saying that though, once sorted (sorry) you’ll find yourself linking post offices and installing vending machines, TVs and air-con systems without much thought.
In this slightly utopian vision of a postal service the working day only lasts from 8:00-16:00. As nice a concept as that may sound, it often strikes four leaving you with mail to sort, and parcels to deliver. Doh!
You’ll also find yourself sitting through the hours 16:00-23:59 where nothing happens. Thankfully, later on in the game, you’ll get access to different shifts that unlock, but for the time being you have to suffer the wrath of watching the timer as it steadily increases.
Post Master works on a five day week with weekends automatically skipped, but it might have been a nice touch to have the option of Saturday mornings like we do here in the UK. Also, adding in special days such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day where you might have to up your staff numbers, run special deals and campaigns, etc.
Like most city/business building games hours can seem to fly by, but after a couple hours of playing Post Master, I was comfortable with the controls and had some vehicles and staff in place it seemed to pretty much run itself.
Occasionally I’d replace or add a vehicle, buy and staff a new post office as my city grew but I would’ve liked more control over certain aspects. How about contracting part-time staff for your peak times? Challenges of priority parcel collection in rush hour – do you send the small van or motorbike?
I did enjoy little extras such as the odd robbery or priority parcel pick-up but most of the time I’d push the speed up to its fastest setting and watch the city grow and my staff do their thing.
Post Master is a neat game which gives you a peek into the very complex world of logistics, but it could prove to be a little too straightforward for hardened simulation fans. I can’t see people spending hours each day with their postal empire but, as I am more prone to doing, jumping on for a quick play taking off from one of the saved games for an hour every now-and-then, this might tickle your fancy.
Post Master is out from today, March 7th, for Windows PC and Mac as a DVD from the Excalibur Publishing website, or digitally through Steam.
Jay rating: 6/10