Aero Porter Review
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On 12/31/2012 at 12:29 PM by Nick DiMola
If you didn't have enough stress at your day job…
You should probably just read the review – only then will you know if this one is for you.
If you noticed the developer on Aero Porter, your interest may have immediately piqued. Vivarium, which should be synonymous with Yoot Saito, helmed creation of this second entry in Level5’s Guild01 series. Like his previous works, Seaman and Odama, Aero Porter is an odd beast that’s fascinating in concept, but rather painful in execution. Aero Porter is not fun – but on the other hand, it doesn’t seem like it’s trying to be. Saito pulls no punches; he’s very up front with the fact that you’re going to be running the baggage sorting at an upstart airport and it’s very much your job. And jobs entail work, which is exactly what Aero Porter feels like.
Now, that may sound derogatory when taken at face value, but it’s not meant that way. Not entirely, at least. Aero Porter is going to overwhelm you with work, but it’s your job to rise above it all and accomplish the daunting tasks at hand. Like any good job, when you prove you can accomplish the tasks at hand, the boss dumps more work in your lap that's increasingly more challenging.
If Aero Porter creates immense stress for you, I'm convinced that Yoot Saito intended you to feel that way. This is due in part to the extremely quick ramp in challenge. At the start of the game it's easy enough to wrap your head around the task at hand. With three carousels and a constant flow of luggage, it's your job to direct the colored luggage to the same colored carousel and load it onto the plane.
However, loading luggage is not something with fine-grained control, nor is the function of dropping the baggage down a level. If you choose to load luggage, it loads everything on the carousel, whether or not it matches the color of the plane. Transferring suitcases down (or back up) a level is done in a broad stroke, as you are simultaneously dropping (or raising) luggage across all carousel levels.
With only three levels, this isn't a terribly taxing task and easy enough to get luggage onto the planes before they take off. However, if you have a successful shift, you'll quickly be turned to the next challenge which ramps the complexity.
At that point you have to deal with two new complications – VIP luggage and dangerous luggage. When VIPs need something put onto a plane it must be loaded before anything else, while dangerous luggage needs to be loaded onto a special truck for removal from the airport. Again, with only three carousels, this is easy work, though it can still be quite tough when multiple situations spring up simultaneously. Just remember, it's all part of the job.
Before long, things ramp more drastically. After a few shifts, you'll soon be working with seven carousels, which in its own right greatly complicates the situation. However, you also must contend with a dropping fuel gauge, which must be kept stocked otherwise the entire airport will shut down. In instances where you must conserve fuel, you can shut the lights off, but this makes it tougher to see what luggage you're routing. Oh, you can also control the speed at which the carousels move luggage, but the faster you choose to route the luggage the more fuel you'll use. Conversely, while sending it slower makes it easier to monitor, you're likely to miss getting things on the flights.
You can also stop up to five packages to help route the items on the carousel stack, but once the sixth comes along all of them will dump simultaneously and due to their physical proximity become that much tougher to route with precision. And one can't forget the ability to blow into the microphone to determine which packages don't jiggle and as such hold hazardous materials and must be disposed of.
With so much control and so many events occurring simultaneously, it's almost impossible to manage it all without going insane.
However, after you play (work?) more, you start to learn how you can cut corners to meet the quota for the day. As it turns out, planes can't take off with at least one package on board, which causes a hefty cancellation fee. To avoid these fees and service more customers, it's easier at times to drop the wrong pieces of luggage on a plane alongside the proper ones to ensure the plane gets off the ground and at least a subset of the passengers on board are properly serviced.
I found myself both frustrated and overwhelmed by Aero Porter despite my ability to frequently meet the goals at hand. Seeing those packages route to the wrong plane in an effort to get it off the ground was painful and not indicative of how I prefer to accomplish my work tasks. Furthermore, the juggling act of managing all of the carousels and the fuel consumption was frequently too much to handle. Shifts were stressful and finishing them didn't feel like an accomplishment, but a relief from the insanity.
Perhaps it's some sort of statement on work life, but you'll never do a perfect job in Aero Porter and meeting the high expectations of your boss is no easy task. If you can accept this inevitability and deal with the insanity of the routing job, you might just find yourself deeply enjoying the mechanical tasks and the strategic decisions offered by Aero Porter. The rest of us likely have enough stress at our day jobs to willingly decide to take on more at night.