I spent a week writing an interesting piece on violence in video games and their repercussions in the real world. I almost got to the end only to realise I hated everything I wrote, so I’ve shelved that for now and looked into something a bit more fun. So as such I was thinking about what game I played recently that I had the most fun playing. This was the first game that came to mind and was the perfect choice to move away from the seriousness of the previous mentioned topic. So please step into my clinic as I prescribe to you a dose of Two Point Hospital.
Hands up who remembers Theme Hospital? I know I do, I spent hours playing it back in the 90’s/00’s. For those who don’t, Theme Hospital was a hospital simulation game on PC and later ported to PSone. It was developed by Bullfrog Productions (co-founded by video gaming legend Peter Molyneux) also famous for The Populous series, The Dungeon Keeper series as well as Theme Park and it’s sequels before they were gobbled up by video game giants EA. Theme Hospital’s lead Producer (Mark Webley) and Lead Artist (Gary Carr) founded Two Point Studios in order to create a spiritual successor to Theme Hospital and I can honestly say they succeeded.
Although there is nothing in the games that directly links the two of them, Two Point Hospital defiantly feels like a Theme Hospital for the 21st century. It’s just as wacky and fun as the original with greater smoothing around the edges. This certainly doesn’t hurt the game in my opinion, I’ve seen a few reviews marks points against it for being “too much” like Theme Hospital which is a concept which I personally don’t understand. You wouldn’t say “I don’t like this delicious cake because it tastes too much like the delicious cake I had a few years ago” would you? Unless you were an absolute cretin.
I feel it easy to connect with Two Point Hospital, this is probably because I am British and the game is also unashamedly British. The characters look like they would be right at home in anything made by Aardman Animations (The guys who made Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run and the like) and the humour is witty and dry with a dark undertone without trying too hard to be funny, just how us Brits like it. The little details too are what I love about the game, I could spend hours reading the compendium about all the different diseases and the causes. They have absolutely no bearing on the game but some of them are that bizzare I can’t help but keep reading and having a giggle.
The game play itself is endearing in being easy to learn and hard to master. This is done by making the in game missions difficult to fail but quite challenging to gain top marks. One slight niggle I have about the game is that once you develop a strategy that works the game play can become a bit tedious. There are a few missions where limitations are put in place or the formulae is mixed up a bit but depending on your strategy it’s not hard to alter it slightly to fit your needs.
At the time of this review there has been 4 major DLC’s for Two Point Hospital. I have played the first 2 (Bigfoot & Pebberley Island). Both of them I have found are a bit samey, you get 3 extra missions with a handful of new diseases, I’ve heard that the third one (Close Encounter) is the same. The fourth (Off the Grid) adds a few new game mechanics too in making your hospitals more eco-friendly but isn’t massively refreshing. If you own the Steam version I wouldn’t buy the DLC’s at full price as compared to the rest of the game it doesn’t really seem worth it, luckily enough the DLC’s are semi-regularly on sale. This currently doesn’t effect the console versions as they are shipped with the first 2 DLC’s and the second 2 have yet to be ported over.
To round it all up I highly recommend Two Point Hospital if you played and didn’t hate Theme Hospital. Sure the game-play may get repetitive at times and it may not be much of a challenge but it is fun, humorous and for all those who have played Theme Hospital oozing with nostalgia. However I’m not sure how the game would hold up without the nostalgia value as I’m finding it very hard to separate my feelings for one on my opinion on the other because of the overwhelming similarities between them. This was also the first game developed by Two Point Studios and I’m hoping to see more spiritual sequels of old Bullfrog games in the future, hopefully if Two Point Hospital is anything to go off of, I’ll be looking forward to hearing of news of Two Point Theme Park.
NOTE: I was originally planning on posting this next week but I have learnt that it’s the game is free to play on Steam this weekend because it’s the games 2 year anniversary. So check it out for free if you like what you read.