Virtual City 2: Paradise Resort
From sunny Florida to snowy Alaska can you manage the ultimate Paradise Resort?
Virtual City 2: Paradise Resort, developed by G5 Games, is a satisfying and approachable city management simulation, and a worthy successor to its predecessor. The game casts the player as a civic planner of sorts, tasked with balancing economics, environmental factors and citizen contentment, while accomplishing other specific goals in a mission-based campaign through towns within the United States.
Presented with small town after small town, tasks include attracting citizens or tourists to populate the area and raising particular ratings. The currencies you trade in are the almighty dollar, as well as an environment rating, job rating, happiness rating, and population. Both happiness and income, for instance, can be raised by improving the local bus services. With a simple click on a gold arrow, and some cash out of your fund, you raise the quality of the bus stop, and by virtue of this, the passengers’ happiness to be there. By circulating more buses, you will earn more from their business. The player principally wants to ensure a high across all categories, and balancing these proves crucial to accomplishing their goals- all criteria come together to produce a prosperous city.
This mission-based approach breeds a lack of persistency, relieving the frustration of losing progress as you restart to correct simple mistakes, rather than start from scratch, as the case may be in a more-freely structured, Sim City-like game. For the player, there is very little input into town-planning: many buildings such as your bus terminal and housing come pre-built in each different town, leaving you to only add goal-appropriate structures. The most fundamental activities (planning bus routes, construction) are taught in a highly-intuitive tutorial, though players may find it slightly restrictive, hampering simple feats a player may be able to solve on their own. Once they have come to grips with the interface, these tasks become second nature.
Speaking of interface, G5 Games have excelled in this regard. The game’s visuals, in both towns and menus, have an artistic, fun aspect and unprecedented polish. The game features a very simple point and click interface: contextual menus pop up for each item, and depress with a satisfying click. The game is devoid of complex statistics and memos, resulting in an immediate attitude; it’s a matter of less flowcharts and more footwork. The animation is truly top-notch also. I delighted in seeing the miniscule population frolic in their back gardens or line up at the bus stops; the animated scaffolding as buildings were constructed or upgraded was also very charming, and I was impressed to see homes become larger and more lavish as they were improved. Gameplay occurs on a small-scale map centred on the town, with a fixed, isometric angle, free of turning or zooming. This results in a real-time strategy feel as you command your buses and builders, giving you a taste of megalomania. Attention has clearly been paid to detail in Virtual City 2. The result is a truly eye-catching game, with few interfacial intrusions.
It is not entirely sheer paradise to play, however. For example: in a certain, early game objective, you must both achieve a high job rating and happiness rating. It seems straightforward at first -transport them to the offices, and transport them to the malls- yet it is not instantly apparent which is the best way to achieve your goal- raising particular ratings lower another, leaving the player to devise tactics to succeed. Unfortunately, such lateral thinking is challenging without knowing exactly how to game particular systems. The result is a slightly muddled, drawn-out grind, lacking a satisfying flow. Overall, the endeavour of raising all ratings simultaneously proves a challenging balancing act. The shallowness of the interface might also disappoint. At times I was left reaching for information that wasn’t present. A deeper insight into some statistics would be a welcome touch.
Virtual City 2 provides a pleasant playing experience; time flew as several objectives ticked away. The game provides return interest in the fun of some of the goals, but has less of an addictive edge than that of a more ambitious game, encouraging the maintenance of small-scale settlements rather than the creation of a metropolis. Nevertheless, there is certainly a particular itch you’ll get, and completing more tasks is the only way to scratch it.
Virtual City 2: Paradise Resort may leave you yearning for larger-scale contracts, the likes of which are on offer, but it would be false to say it didn’t construct a fun, focused and friendly experience.