Oil Imperium is a first class simulation in the hard business of the unique and intriguing oil market. However, it is no game for the business simulations hardliners, but focused on fun while gaming. You have 4 different goals to choose from, each requiring a different strategy. These are: (1) best after 3 years, (2) 80% market share, (3) more than 60 million $ capital and (4) ruin all other players. The decision of which game type to play depends on the amount of time you have to spare. Especially the second goal will take quite long to complete.
After selecting your company’s logo and favourite office, you start as one of four oil tycoons with 5 million dollars seed capital. With this money you have to buy a concession for one of five regions, buy an oil well and some tanks and start your production by drilling your first hole into the ground. Sell the oil, build further wells and go for your goal is the main principle of the game.
You take control of your actions from your office. Here you have six buttons for the different aspects of business life. The buttons on the right side of the screen deal with your daily business. Most important is the computer, called Oil-Commander, where you can buy and sell wells and tanks, or sell your stored oil in the different regions. Another feature accessable here ist the expertise. This is really important, as you get information like output amounts or running costs for an oilfield here. The world map gives an overview of the oilfields and your opponents, and the newspaper supplies interesting information from the oil market. The buttons on the left site of the screen contain the more “interesting” features. Whenever the phone rings, something bad has happend. You should answer the phone as fast as possible and take care of the situation. There is a drawer you better keep locked, as it contains contract for saboteurs and detectives. (Only evil businessmen would use the options inside and burn their opponent’s derricks...) The case contains firefighting contracts and the flight ticket to your burning well. You’ll only need these when the phone rings.
Besides the business part, there are some action sequences like in Ports of Call. So you might want to drill holes by yourself in a small game, in which you have to take care the drill keeps centered and does not crack. Sometimes you have to build pipelines faster than your opponent in order to sell some oil, and it may even happen that one of your oilfields starts to burn by “accident” and you have to extinguish the fire with some dynamite. Most of these actions sequences can be passed by hiring an expert (for much money) however.
The game is turn based with one month representing one turn in game time. Each action you take needs some days. You can see the actual date on the calendar on top of your desk. So if you still have some days after finishing your actions, you might want to take a look at the newspaper for a day or two... You can end your turn by clicking on the calendar.
reLINE’s Oil Imperium had quite some success, when it came to market in 1989. In fact it has been reLINE’s biggest success besides “Biing!” until today. It has a solid gameplay and easily understandable controls. The graphics are good and the sound is, well... not existing, except for some beeps when the phone rings or the oil gushing from a derrick. Nevertheless the game is fun to play and receives a rating of 4 for its high replayability. So get your download and go for the black gold!
To make the actions sequences playable, you should try to lower the CPU-cyles by pressing Ctrl-F11. When the action is done you can rise them with Ctrl-F12 to normal speed again.