Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Constructor

Go To
A Real-Time Strategy game set in a warped satire of the UK. You're put in the role of a building contractor. The object is to build and nurture a thriving neighborhood, with the ultimate goal of putting your rivals out of business.

Also, each of the companies are owned by organised crime firms. That's a bit of a sticky wicket, eh, wot?

Provided they're kept happy, tenants will breed rapidly, swelling your ranks with tomorrow's civil servants — all of whom are on the take. For instance, producing a General Practitioner grinds your rivals' hospitals to a halt, while having a Magistrate results in longer jail sentences for undesirables. Think of it as The Sims meets The Departed.

Much of the game's strategy comes from its tenant types, all of whom produce different workers and have their own respective quirks. They also tend to complain — a lot. Players also have to contend with the omnipotent City Council, which sometimes demands you develop a specific estate within the allotted time. Fail to do so, and you'll be sacked. Literally.

Constructor was developed for MS-DOS and released in 1997. The game was ported to the PlayStation, macOS and Windows-native DirectX-3 the following year. A sequel set in The Roaring '20s, Constructor: Street Wars (Mob Rule in North America) was released, but was not well-liked by fans. A HD remake of the original game was released in May 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC with an enhanced version "Constructor Plus", following in 2019.

This game provides examples of:

  • Amusement Park of Doom: The "House of Fun" arcade, which produces Clown units. When a clown captures an enemy NPC, he escorts them to the aptly-named "Wheel of Death" ride.
  • Angrish: Visit the home of a complaining tenant and you'll hear them grunt, groan, squeak, splutter and mutter gibberish.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You can have five of each house type, ten of each tenant rank, twenty handymen and thirty workers. Enemy houses count against your own limit. Council missions will have you scrabbling to seize or destroy enemy estates just to raise the limit.
    • In the sequel, you can technically make as many of any unit as you want. However, if it gets too high, the city will cut the overpopulation problem at the source (kill the tenant responsible, in other words). With enough firepower and a watchful eye, you can stop this though.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Although effective at harassing your estates early in the game, the AI's tendency to overextend itself makes it a laughably weak enemy later on. The computer also lacks proper planning, which eventually leads to mass evictions.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Gangster units (shown on the left in the header image) are dressed to the nines.
  • Bad Boss: The company leadership is very unforgiving. Fail to meet an objective, and you aren't just fired, you are executed. It doesn't matter how successful you were prior to that point.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game:
    • Hippies can lure enemy Hippies out of the house they're squatting in.
    • Ghosts can scare tenants out of their houses. Clowns can scare ghosts out of the houses they're haunting.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Neglected houses will produce man-sized cockroaches, which then begin strolling around the block on two legs.
  • Black Comedy: The games are built on this. Gang warfare has never been so hilarious, especially with the Undesirables brought in.
  • Cardboard Prison: Police stations are useful for keeping scum off the streets, but become overcrowded quickly. Prisons are the next step up.
  • Chainsaw Good: Psychos (or "Gimps") are the most powerful melee unit. When set loose on a rival's land, they start revving their chainsaw maniacally, scaring away all workers and foremen on the site. Even gangsters are no match for the fat shirtless guy with a mask. However, a cop can apprehend them with little difficulty. With luck, they will serve out a 1000 day sentence in a maximum security jail you just built, and not get paroled in a week.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The opposing teams: Green, Red, Yellow and Blue.
  • Complexity Addiction: The boss in "Street Wars" has some very overly complicated orders, wanting you to cause damage to enemy gangs in creative ways, while specifically ordering you not to attack them yet, in fact punishing you if you do so, even though you will eventually be allowed to wipe out the enemy later.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • In the first level, all gangsters start with shotguns. you are informed that, in future levels, gangsters start with knives. They do, provided they are your gangsters - the computer's still start with shotguns.
    • In the sequel, all AI opponents' Undesirables inexplicably have access to twice as many abilities as your own - your own Ghosts can't even haunt houses!
  • Concealment Equals Cover: When being pursued by opposing units, fleeing into a subway entrance will cut the chase short. This gets pretty irritating when the computer does it.
  • Crapsack World: You wouldn't want to live next to any of the hideously grotesque caricatures in this game. And the maximum life expectancy is only about 10 years!
  • Damage Is Fire: Damaged houses produce more and more flames, before finally exploding. Unless their plumbing has been sabotaged, in which case, they'll produce jets of water.
  • Delayed Explosion: The sad fate of many a unit. It's an easy mistake to destroy an opponent's building before your units have gotten clear of the site, wiping them out in one fell swoop. Similarly, it's common to run away too soon, leaving the building with a small sliver of health. Then, inevitably, you send in a single unit to finish it off, and — yeah.
  • Demonic Possession: Ghosts have the option of possessing NPCs, turning them gray and rendering them uncontrollable for a short period.
  • Dirty Cop: Useful for protecting neighborhoods. While they don't qualify as melee units, they're the best method of ridding your place of psychos (short of just blowing up the biker bar, of course).
  • Disposing of a Body: Required when you kill someone to avoid attracting the police. You can throw them in a cemetery, or alternatively you can throw them into a rival's property and attract the police to them, possibly causing a raid that shuts down their businesses.
  • Domino Mask: Thieves wear these.
  • Evil Versus Evil: When you come into conflict with rival gangs.
  • Gangster Land: Mob Rule/Street Wars' setting - its entire economy is run by feuding gangsters.
  • Grumpy Old Man: The Major, the hardest tenant to please. He hates barking dogs, insects, garden gnomes, public buildings, undesirables, gangsters, factories, and evergreen trees - and, if you build the wrong fence around his property, he'll demand a series of replacements, finding fault in each.
  • Haunted House: Produces ghosts to scare off tenants. These are less useful in and of themselves, but become an annoyance when opponents sic them on your estates.
  • Have a Nice Death: Failing the game results in a scene of pallbearers lowering your casket into an open grave. But — what's this? The inscription on the coffin reads "A. LOSER"? Cut to inside the coffin, showing the player still alive and struggling for air. You're fired, indeed.
  • House Squatting: The hippie from the commune that you can build can squat enemy houses, and sometimes if you try to throw some tenants out, they'll become squatters.
  • Instant-Win Condition: In the original, destroying an enemy headquarters wipes out the enemy instantly, no matter how many properties they own.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: Days translate to about one real-time second. A speedy playthrough generally takes about 30 in-game years.
  • Invisibility: Essentially what happens when a player's ghost possesses one of their own NPCs. An invisible unit can't be detected by enemies.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Wiping out an enemy gang's HQ instantly puts up all of their buildings for sale. Right before every single. building EXPLODES.
  • Loan Shark: It gets really bad when the Mob Boss sends a helicopter to demolish your houses if you piss him off.
  • Lower-Class Lout: Level 1 tenants; the Greasers and the Slobs (who can breed faster than any other group of tenant). Also the builders who answer their phones with a loud burp.
  • Made of Explodium: Destroying a building causes not just it, but the entire lot, to explode, causing fiery debris to rain down on the surrounding lots and damage them.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: "Mr. Fixit", the (alleged) repairman, whose "repairs" coincide with gas explosions and block-levelling plumbing failures.
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: Constructor Plus is merely the HD remake with a few extra features added. This was apparently result of the contract with Deep Silver preventing System 3 from adding these features to the original game or removing it from sale.
  • Mob War: The setting and plot of the second game.
  • Monster Clown: One of the Undesirables. Runs an Amusement Park of Doom, and sidelines in arson and exorcisms.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: There's the Hippie Undesirables who live in Communes and can be sent to picket, squat or party in enemy territory and the hippie 'Student' tenants who insist on having hedgerows on their properties.
  • Not in My Backyard!: Tenants richer than Punks and Greasers will object to living near factories. Those richer than Nerds will object to Police and other public buildings. All breeding tenants will complain about nearby Undesirables, Mafia headquarters, and 8-foot-tall cockroaches living in nearby houses.
  • Oop North: Handymen are Scousers.
    "All right, calm down!"
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Ghosts spawn these by polluting the soil of an estate, causing graves to erupt. These living dead will terrorize the local residents and make the police go haywire.
  • Palette Swap: Many of the Street Wars/Mob Rule's units, tenants and Undesirables are remodeled versions of the original game's.
  • Police Are Useless: The police are corrupt and will run protection criminal gangs, along with the enemies if they pay them. The radio broadcast to the end of the first map in "Street Wars" reveals the entire town's police force was arrested by the FBI.
  • Psycho for Hire: The...Psychos.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: Constructor is very, very English. Street Wars/Mob Rule takes things American, and visits a few other mob towns across the world, though some of the Cockney voice resources still appear.
  • Toilet Humour: The little video animations that play when you click on the sprites show workers burping into their phones, fat babies pooing themselves, and dogs scooting along the ground on their bottoms next to steaming piles of dog dirt.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Tenants and the council make increasingly particular demands of your planning and hiring, and you'll only learn of them after they've sent you a Strongly Worded Letter which may be the warning of an imminent Game Over.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: The world you are in may operate on a dark Rule of Funny, but always be sure to pay your taxes and pay back loans to the bank. If you don't pay taxes, then the city will refuse to sell land to you. If you don't pay loans you can end up in serious debt.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Level 5 tenants (the highest level), particularly the horse-faced, buck-teethed, boater hat-wearing Sloanes.
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential: Tenants are fair game. Flush them from the houses and gun them down in the street.
  • Weapon-Based Characterization: Gangsters upgrade their weapons by killing opposing units. The hierarchy depending on their weapons is as follows:
    • Knives: The starting weapon after the first level.
    • Handguns: They are a big improvement over knives.
    • Shotguns Are Just Better: The starting weapon in the first level. They do far more damage than handguns.
    • Gatling Good: Machine guns are the best weapon the gangster gets access to. Shotguns deal more damage per hit, but the machine guns' multiple hits mean they do more damage overall.
  • Wild Teen Party: Sending Thugs to an enemy estate will result in them getting drunk and rowdy, vandalising property and stressing out tenants.

Alternative Title(s): Mob Rule