In 2000, Alex Austin released a small fifteen-level demo of Bridge Builder, a game he developed in his spare time. The small but amazingly addictive game that lets you design bridges proved to be immensely popular, resulting in thousands of downloads and mentions in several game magazines. Unfortunately, while Alex was working on the full game, he was threatened with a lawsuit by Pre-Engineering Software Corp., a company that had already trademarked the name "Bridge Builder" for their own educational title. The designer was forced to take down the game and his website, although the game has continued to attract a loyal following through numerous fan sites. |
Fast forward to October, 2001, when Alex decided to give the game one more try. To cheers of fans worldwide, he released Pontifex, the official sequel to Bridge Builder that is superior to its predecessor in every respect. In the designer's own words: "Pontifex uses a complex physics engine called the Immortal Engine which allows for many different types of bridges to be built. Once the design is completed you can test your bridge by sending a train across and watch as the train either passes over safely or plummets into the river below. The 3D engine lets you view your bridge from any angle including a first-person train view. Many different types of levels are included, from simple to complex, and a level editor lets you make your own levels to share with other people."
Simply put, Pontifex is one of the best games I have played in quite some time. The original concept pioneered in Bridge Builder is enhanced and expanded upon with better graphics, more gameplay options, and more parts (including cables and different weight steel). The editor is amazingly easy to use, and with scores of aspiring amateur builders eager to distribute their designs to fellow fans, the replayability is virtually unlimited. The free demo contains only seven of the total of 32 in the full version, and you cannot save or load bridges or use the editor. For only $20, Pontifex is money well spent?a game that will keep both puzzle and sim fans enthralled for hours on end. Keep an eye out for contests on the official website, and help support independent developers today so we can expect future classics from Mr. Austin and friends ;) Two thumbs up, and an induction to our Hall of Belated Fame for this amazing underdog! Also check out Pontifex II, a superior sequel released in 2002, and several other bridge-building and other titles by the same developer.
Reviewed by: Underdogs