Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Restaurant Empire PC Game Review

I first heard of the game when I was looking for a simulation to play, after having played 'Theme Hospital' and Roller coaster tycoon series and came across this surprisingly fun and addictive game!


~~~GAME PLAY~~~
The game offers two modes: Campaign and Sandbox. Campaign mode features 18 timed scenarios (each day represents a month and earnings are multiplied accordingly) you have to complete through a storyline where you are upcoming chef Armand, who has just been given his uncle's old restaurant and it is his goal to restore it to it's former glory, whilst competing with culinary brand Omnifood.


The early scenarios will require you to focus on a single restaurant, though later on expanding to atleast eight, of three different cuisines, French, Italian and American. You will even be asked to participate in cooking contests and can buy ingredients to improve your score.


Micromanagement includes staff (hiring, training), selecting what dishes goes into your menu (you can even customise the menu design and font), set dish prices, design your restaurant (placing tables, choosing decor, building toilets and kitchen etc), paying for advertising, renovating the exterior and more. 


Whilst there seems like a lot you have to do, many of these aspects you either only need to do once, or do not need much managing at all. In this way, the game does not feel like a chore and you can focus on completing the scenario without having to take care of every little thing of every restaurant you own.

I found the earlier scenarios rather difficult given you start off with very little money and not a lot of freedom in terms of improving your restaurant and you are kind of thrown into the deep end. Despite the useful, yet long, tutorial, some of the goals were very difficult to achieve. I remember failing scenario 5 completely and had to restart with an easier setting.

A good thing about the game is that it doesn't allow you to get stuck. You can always try the scenario again with a lowered goal and hence progress the storyline relatively easily. However, everything you do during the time you spent will be reset to the beginning of the scenario which kind of sucks.

Once I got past Scenario 7 or 8 the rest were pretty easy, perhaps far too easy. I could easily complete it within a month or two, but usually chose to wait it out to get more money or spend the time improving my staff skills. The game was relatively short in that respect and I completed it in under 30 hours (which is perhaps too long) though I really enjoyed every aspect of the storyline.

You get cut scenes at the beginning of scenarios which are simple, but nicely done and the animations, whilst are nothing compared to today's standards are enjoyable to watch and some of the dialogue is quite hilarious!


Once I completed the story, I was eager to play sandbox mode, getting my first personal restaurant up and running and trying to get it to 5 stars. After selecting your restaurant and renovating it and then opening it, there isn't really much left to do other than to up your staff skills and wait. It was surprisingly dull to play as many recipes were already unlocked, obtained fromt he chefs you hire, and many options were closed, such as contests.


All of a sudden, there seems very little purpose of playing this free mode as there is no goal to achieve and not much point to any of it. This could easily be improved by opening up the contest arenas and allowing you to participate in contests so you actually want to improve your chefs' ratings and so on. 

Even though the game offers replayability, I got bored of it quite quickly, and I was not too keen on carrying on much more after my third restaurant. I wasn't able to obtain 5* but they were making money and that's all that really matters. I would much prefer to replay the story mode than this sandbox.

One thing that is missing is the ability to continue your 'story save game' after you complete the last scenario, as I'd love to continue and manage those 8 lovely restaurants I set up during the storyline!
~~~GRAPHICS~~~
Whilst many moan about the blockiness of the dishes and the lack lustre graphics, I found them to be pretty nice and acceptable. I'm one of those people who don't really care about the graphics as long as the game play is good, and whilst it would be great to see the lovely dishes in HD and like they are really edible, it didn't make a difference to how much I enjoyed the game.


~~~OVERALL~~~
Restaurant Empire was a surprisingly enjoyable simulation game which offered a good variety of micromanagement set in an entertaining storyline and immersive setting. A good variety of options let you take control of your restaurant to very minute details. 

With the unfortunately easy storyline, the game was quite short and left you desperately wanting more, but the game does not fulfil with it's lacklustre sandbox mode. Thankfully the second game is out. Whilst it is more like an upgrade (the first game with all its scenarios is included), it does offer improved graphics and new cuisines, recipes and decor, so I'll be looking forward to trying that out!

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