Monday, May 16, 2022

‘Two Point Campus’ offers evolution, not revolution

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Finally, I’m take advantage of the world’s seemingly endless hunger for nostalgia for the good old days. 25 years later Theme Hospital was released, and four years later? two point hospitalto be remake spiritual successor debuted, we get a true sequel.

two-point campus takes players back to the world of Two Point County, this time tasked with building a series of new universities on lots next to the previously non-functional hospitals you’ve renovated.

I recently played an early build of the first two levels of the game. Freshleigh Meadows is an abbreviated tutorial phase, while the Rome-inspired Piazza Lanatra is the second area players can expect. Now that the release date has been pushed back to August 9, I get the feeling that the title isn’t quite as polished as the developers had hoped. This is attributed, at least in part, to the fact that much of it was shot remotely while staffers were locked up at home.

I had only recently completed (again) two point hospital and found that I could fly through these early levels only by instinct. At first glance you might feel that campus looks a bit too much like its predecessor to be considered a standalone sequel. A lot has been taken from the previous title, albeit with some graphic polishing. The team clearly felt that if it wasn’t broken there was little point in fixing it, at least as far as I’ve played so far.

The most notable difference is that Two Point is the most common complaint from players of . wanted to tackle Hospital — that they didn’t like the layout puzzles. In both Theme Hospital and two point hospital, you get intentionally problematic floor plans on which to build your facility. That’s part of the core mechanism and forces you to optimize your layouts for both a quick patient journey and making the best use of the space allowed. That weird dogleg building that’s too small for an X-ray room? Your mission is to try to fill it with somethingthat is the point.

Of two-point campus, it is no more, as you can now pay money to adjust the boundaries of your building and even move the entrances. You can claim or return land to your yard, depending on your need at each level. The point of having weird building layouts wasting acres of potentially usable space was part of the game’s playful sadism. I’d complain more about those damn kids who need things to be easier, but I’m coming.

Two-point / Sega

And you are no longer looking for efficiency, but also for aesthetics. The outdoor spaces can be filled with trees, paths, flora and concession stands. Your duty is not only to educate people, but also to ensure that your students learn in a pleasant environment.

Financial management is less of a key factor in campus, because success is now linked to how well your students do. That means looking at underperforming students to tutor, or evicting students who aren’t up to par. You will also need to organize events where people can meet, both socially and romantically. You can buy romantic trinkets for campus, such as love seats, to encourage meet-cutes on your watch. I don’t know if I’m a fan; it feels like the wrong kind of subject for a light-hearted business simulation game to tackle.

Universities are also much less of a goldmine for crazy jokes than a cartoonish hospital. Sure, there are still menu jokes and funny radio commentary, but there are just fewer things to poke fun at in a campus environment. The weirdest thing I’ve seen so far is trainee chefs cooking an SUV-sized burger in a slightly larger skillet. It’s quite different from unscrewing a light bulb sticking out of someone’s neck when they suffer from “lightheadedness”.

campusthe sense of scale has also shifted quite a bit, and Hospital players may find the larger rooms more challenging. While you could build a usable clinic from just 3×3 rooms, the default area is in campus is closer to 5×5. There are also many more things to cram into each room, with a more maximalist sense of design compared to the last game. I suspect that’s why Hospital players min maxing their hospital suites with impractical objects.

Screenshot 'Two Point Campus'

Two-point / Sega

Fortunately, you can now build bathrooms on a 2 x 1 lot, so any free room in lobbies across your campus can now be used.

Even as a loud and proud fan, I’m mature enough to admit that the titles wear out after a while on their welcome. Hospital, while brilliant, essentially asked you to play the same set of gameplay loops across the 15 levels. Yes, the scale got bigger and so did the obstacles, but by the time I got to the last level the hardest challenge was keeping my interest.

It’s something Two Point seems to be aware of, carefully making sure you don’t blow through its new game with the same quick-witted relentlessness. Part of this is due to the three “year” cycle the game uses for your participants to graduate. The other is a greater focus on actively managing your campus, beyond squeezing every cent out of its walls.

Early on in Piazza Lantara I ran out of money – which often meant starting a level again in Hospital† But here you can just wait, burn off a year of raising some kids to recoup the losses without ever having to take out a loan. (Two Point could never walk away from the satirical point that nothing is more important than guarding your profits in whatever privatized industry you run.)

If there’s one thing I wish I could have spent more time on deep down, it’s that the game is frustrating intangibles† For example, there are many instances where you need to improve your hygiene rating and plaster every wall with hand sanitizer stations and trash cans. But because one too many staff members is ‘unsanitary’ you will never get there unless you start firing people.

Screenshot 'Two Point Campus'

Two-point / Sega

It’s one of the game’s problems that is often most reliably solved by visiting a Reddit thread, as the solutions are often buried beyond a casual player’s ability to find them. I also wish the UI was less finicky when it came to duplicating rooms with duplicate items on the walls. For example, removing internal windows manually this time seems more difficult than in Hospital. (And another: why can’t I put a sanitizer dispenser over a trash can, since they don’t take up the same space?)

But none of those problems, annoying as they are, won’t stop me from eagerly snagging campus on the day it is launched. I sank into exactly those early levels for eight hours, while suffering from COVID-19, because it’s just as addictive as its predecessor. I have a feeling there will be the usual period of my life where it’s swallowing every waking minute that I’m not doing anything else. While two-point campus is pretty much the same game as its predecessor, it’s still very welcome.

two-point campus debuts on PC, Mac, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox Game Pass, and Nintendo Switch on August 9, 2022.

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