Essentially, you should avoid this game like Sean Connery tries to avoid The Rock. While there's nothing necessarily wrong with a prison game based on the tycoon formula, Prison Tycoon 4's biggest problem is its execution. First of all, this game comes with no manual, not even an insert. Most importantly, there is no in-game tutorial. While this wouldn't really hurt, say, racing games or point-and-click adventures, developers should get locked-up for not including in-game tutorials for strategy management games. It gets exponentially more painful when you couple this with an unintuitive interface.
Hey, prison decorating.
One time I wanted to break up a fight, so I tossed some tear gas at the warring prisoners, but nothing really happened. They proceeded to beat the living snot out of each other. You can try to send prisoners to their cells by putting things in lockdown mode, but a lot of them won't retreat to their quarters; and the ones that do come back out after a few seconds. So you'll then want to send a guard to break up the fight, but figuring out how to do that without proper instructions is extremely frustrating.
Make sure your prisoners are pumping iron.
Trying to be the responsible warden, I tried to break up the action as best as possible by separating different gang members into separate work environments. As it turns out, assigning prisoners different jobs is another painful task. You would think that all you would have to do is to select a prisoner and right click on the area you want him to work at. But that's too simple and intuitive for Prison Tycoon 4. To assign a prisoner a job, you have to open up the submenu, click on the prisoner tab, check the minimap at the top of the screen, select a building you want him to work in, select a position you want him to work at, and finally exit out of the window. After you've done that, the prisoner may still not listen to you. So what you have to do then is open up that submenu again, click on the prisoner tab, select the specific prisoner you wish to command, and edit his daily routine so that he works as much as possible. However, even after that, prisoners would still disobey me. So then I tried sending a guard over to teach him a lesson. Once the prisoner was beaten up, he scampered off to the medical facility. After that, he went off and did his own thing. While you can order your staff around, you can't directly control your prisoners.
Once you successfully get them to work, you'll be disappointed to see that the interface doesn't easily allow you to track your prisoners' work progress. The menus only tell you that your prisoner is scheduled to work, but it doesn't tell you where. Thus, to see if he's doing his job, you've got to once again navigate through the submenu, click on the prisoner, and see if he's following instructions.
We're not sure what's going on here, but we think shanks may be involved.
However, whenever you figure something out on your own, another problem arises which pretty much summed up my whole entire Prison Tycoon 4 experience. I can't stress how unintuitive this interface is. The game will throw icons at you and expect you to know what they mean. Certain prisoner's sentences will be listed as "3." Well, three what? Days? Weeks? Years? The saving icon looks like the loading icon, and vice-versa. Everything is simply too unpolished and it all reeks of bargain bin.
Minimum System Requirements:
CPU: Pentium® III 1.4 GHz or faste
RAM: 512 MB RAM
VGA: DirectX® 9.0c compliant 64 MB Video card and drivers (GeForce2 / ATI 7000 / Intel GMA 900)
DX: DirectX® 9.0c
OS: Windows® XP/Vista
HDD: 800 MB Hard Disk space
Sound: DirectX 9 compatible sound card and drivers
ODD: 8X CD-ROM drive
Recommended peripheral: Mouse
How to install:
1. Download Prison Tycoon 4: Supermax (RIP)
2. Extract the file - Open the folder "PT4"
3. Run "Setup.bat" - Wait until process is complete
4. Installation finished - Open the folder "data". Run 'prisonTycoon4.exe' to start playing