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Restaurant Empire 2

Score: 88%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Developer: Enlight Software
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Simulation/ Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

Released in 2003, Restaurant Empire was a much loved strategy game. Finally, we have a sequel to it: Restaurant Empire 2. It's still essentially the same game with some new features.

Graphically, Restaurant Empire 2 doesn't differ much from the original, which is actually good thing. It's nice to have the same interface that you were used to in the previous game. For those of you who've played it before, you won't have to re-learn any of the controls. They did improve the appearance of the characters, from what I can tell, which is the one area that's really improved over the years in overall game development. The buildings and objects still look the same, but you do get some new items for some new looks.

This is one game in which I don't recommend turning off your sounds, simply because you need to be able to hear when the bell goes off letting you know that there's something that needs your attention. Granted, it does flash as well, so you don't necessarily have to have the sound effects, but I know I missed with just flashing more than I wanted to. The background music is really nondescript, which is what you want, so that it doesn't distract you. You get background noises that you'd expect to hear in a restaurant: mumbling conversations, dishes in the sink, even things like a water fountain, if you choose to buy one for your restaurant.


Gameplay:

There are quite a few things to keep you occupied for a long time in Restaurant Empire 2. When you launch the game, you have the option of either New Game or Sandbox Game. If you want to just jump into the game and play, then you should choose Sandbox Game. In it, first you choose which type of restaurant you want to own from French, Italian, American, German, Coffee Shop, or Dessert House. You'll notice that the first three are the same as the previous game, but the last three are brand new to Restaurant Empire 2. After you choose your restaurant type, you pick your chef. There are 58 chefs to choose from, 44 men and 14 women, in a wide variety of ages and appearances. After that, you set up your company. Here you can choose a theme for your restaurant like music, seafood, rainforest, and more. After that, you just run the restaurant as long as you want, until you decide to quit. There are no goals or specific challenges for you to meet, other than the daily operation of the restaurant.

When you choose New Game, you will then have two different campaigns to choose from: Restaurant Empire and Coffee, Dessert, and Sweet Success. In the Restaurant Empire option, you play as Armand LeBouf (which is sometimes spelled as LeBoeuf in the game). Armand is visiting his uncle, Michel, in Paris. Michel is a chef who used to own his own restaurant, Treize à Table. Since Armand's last visit, Michel has been forced to close down to keep the restaurant out of the hands of OmniFood. You'll be given specific challenges to meet for each scenario in the game. If you don't meet these challenges in the time given, you'll have to start that scenario over. It's not easy to bring the place back to life, so you'll have to work hard as Armand! Something that I didn't expect to find in a strategy game are mini-games. When you are in the cooking contests, you can improve Armand's performance by playing mini-games.

When you choose to play Coffee, Dessert, and Sweet Success, you will then be playing as Delia, Armand's beautiful wife. Delia has dreams of her own, other than just being a loving wife. She wants to open her own coffee shop. But she doesn't want a modern shop like she's seeing all over Paris right now. Delia wants to open a more traditional "Parisian Café." Just like in the Restaurant Empire portion, you'll have scenarios to complete to try and get Delia's coffee shop up and running. Just as with Armand, it is challenging, but you have different challenges with a coffee shop than you do with a restaurant.


Difficulty:

Overall, I found the difficulty in Restaurant Empire 2 to be pretty balanced. The tutorials are well-designed, to show you how to get everything going. Once you learn the tricks to solving the common customer complaints, you'll find that keeping up with things really isn't too hard. One thing I really found difficult is figuring out which kitchen porter (bus boy) isn't working since the customers only complain that the dishes aren't clean, but you don't know which one washed them. The easiest way to combat all staff complaints is to just hire the most expensive one (since they're the best trained) and invest money in training them early on. Other than that, it's just a matter of figuring out what works best for you. I do wish the computer-controlled staff was a bit smarter. You have to be very careful with the placement of tables or they'll run into each other and just stand there.

Game Mechanics:

In Restaurant Empire 2, you have to decorate the restaurants, plan the menus, and employ the staff. After you've gotten enough money, you'll even need to buy a new building for a new restaurant and plan the locations correctly. So here are some basic controls to help you move around. To change your camera angle, hold your right mouse button and move the mouse around. You're going to find that you need to change the camera angles a lot just to decorate. To zoom in and out, just roll your mouse's scroll wheel. If your mouse doesn't have a scroll wheel, it's still not hard. Just right click and hold down (Shift) and move the mouse in and out to zoom.

There are a lot of things to pay attention to in Restaurant Empire 2. You've got toolbars on the top and the bottom to help you out though. I highly recommend you pay attention in the tutorials, to find out what all of these do, as they're all important. If you ever forget what any of them do, simply move your mouse over the button and it'll show you what it is for.

There is a lot more to Restaurant Empire 2 than I expected there to be; you'll spend quite a while playing and not run out of things to do. If you like sim/strategy games, I highly recommend Restaurant Empire 2. It's a great value that will keep you entertained for a long time!


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

Minimum System Requirements:



OS: Windows 2000, ME, XP, or Vista, Processor: 1 GHz CPU, RAM: 256 MB, Hard Drive Space: 2GB free, Graphics: 128 MB 3D card compatible with DirectX9
 

Test System:



OS: Windows XP Service Pack 3, Processor: 2.4 GHz, Memory: 3 GB, Hard Drive: 7 GB free, Graphics: 128MB nVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M, Sound: DirectX 9.0c

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