I used to work in a call centre; with ever increasing targets to hit, persistently annoying customers calling through because their mobile phone bill was over £500, even though they had only voted for those nice JLS boys once or twice this month. I bloody hated it.
Now thanks to Smooth Operators: Call Centre Chaos I can hire minions to do everything I hated and be in charge of my own call centre. Call answering targets to hit? No problem, hire a telephone operative, and another, and another. Operatives making a mess? Simply hire a janitor. Operatives keep breaking their PCs (maybe they hate their job in the call centre as well)? Hire an IT Technician. It goes on until the point where I almost wished I was back in a call centre, because you know what? Hitting these targets is a much harder balancing act than it first seemed.
Well, I did say almost. Mainly because Smooth Operators really is a joy to play and balancing the books isn’t that hard once you get into the swing of things. It’s actually hard to make a major loss money wise in this game but in order to balance this up it’s also extremely difficult to make a quick profit, unless you utilise the in-built cheat code system with the name of an Italian poet from the middle ages.
What is key to success is creating a call centre that maximises profit whilst reducing overheads, in order to create even more money, to allow you to create a bigger call centre which can take on larger and more profitable contracts and so on and so forth.
Hiring staff is quick and relatively cheap, but keeping them happy can become quite expensive. Do you hire a cheerleading coach or build them a relaxation room? Do you leave them to their own devices or do you hire a manager who whips them into shape which makes them more productive but less happy in their work and more likely to jump from the 15th floor.
I was hit with all of these choices within the opening 15 minutes of the game. There is much, much more to come. When you have raised enough capital to build another floor do you build an office for Project managers to work in – and in turn unlock more features to aid your workers – or do you build another office for call operatives? If you build the call operatives office do you try and hit your inbound target of 200 calls for £5 a call or do you try and hit your outbound target of 500 calls for £3 a call. The latter of course earning your more money but needing more staff and maybe another office and another janitor to clean up the extra mess – aaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh.
Graphically Smooth Operators is a cross between Little Computer People and Tiny Towers but that only helps to hide the sheer volume of depth included in the game. There is so much to think about and so many different ways you can play the game depending on your own feelings as to how a call centre should look and be run.
Due to this, it’s not unfair to say that Smooth Operators has a feel of a freemium title but with the added benefit that it does not include micro-transactions. Instead you receive extra money for achieving challenges such as hiring 10/25/50 staff or building your floors up into a 4 storey building.
Based on what speed setting you choose a day in the life of the call centre can range from anything from 2 minutes to 10 minutes and a quick go at Smooth Operators can easily turn into a couple of hours.
The one problem I can see is that due to the contracts not scaling in difficulty sufficiently when you start to become successful. This leads to your contract targets being hit much quicker and no one quitting as everything is as efficient as it possibly could be. After about four hours, if you are using the fastest speed setting, this takes away from the management side and you end up just choosing new contracts and letting your little minions get on with the answering of their calls.
Overall, for me, the will to succeed and make as much profit as quickly in order for your call centre to grow from a single storey to a colossi of the phone answering world is one of the most addictive things since cocaine and makes Smooth Operators an excellent time sink. However if you are not a fan of micromanagement games then Smooth Operators will very quickly become a chore.
MLG Rating: 7/10 Platform: PC / Xbox 360 Release Date: 23/01/2013
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Smooth Operators: Call Centre Chaos for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of two weeks on a PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.