Is There A Doctor In The House?

If you played simulation or tycoon style games in the 90’s, there were a few quintessential titles that most likely got dozens (erm, hundreds) of hours of play out of you. Sim City, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Zoo Tycoon, Caesar, Tropico, and Theme Hospital to name some of the most popular ones.

The majority of these games have continued to release newer, bigger versions (though not always better — looking at you Sim City) over the last couple decades. The hospital-building genre, however, has been about as neglected as that rash you didn’t tell your mom about after you played in the woods as a kid.

The Old Doctor

Theme Hospital, released in 1997 by Bullfrog Productions and Electronic Arts, has been the primary outlet for those seeking to run their own virtual hospital. Putting the player in charge of the design and operations of a hospital, he or she could do their best to heal and cure patients on the PC or PlayStation.

It was a game that matched fun with funny given the comical nature of the ailments. You could expect visitors of your hospital to suffer from illnesses that included Chronic Nosehair, Bloaty Head, Spare Ribs (not the kind you eat), Broken Heart (not from your first break-up), and even Invisibility.

The game played well. It gave you a myriad of options to control as many aspects of the hospital as you could imagine. You decided where the diagnosis rooms, treatment rooms, clinics, and facilities – including bathrooms and staff rooms – go.

Each room could be designed as you wished, from the placement of desks and filing cabinets to the position of the operating machines and heating units. In the halls, making sure visitors had ample seating and refreshment options was critical.

Beyond the layout, you could hire receptionists, handymen, nurses, and, of course, doctors. Each staff member had unique characteristics and skills to justify their salary demand.

When making a hire you had a few options to review. The hiring was just the start as you needed to manage staff energy and happiness levels to maintain a well run hospital.

The Diagnosis

All of these management options would be for naught if the game itself wasn’t fun. A friendly UI and interesting missions brought the game along naturally with a steady increase in challenge and complexity.

The only complaint typically found with this game is its brevity. More missions or, ideally, a sandbox mode would add a ton of replayability, which would likely bring this game up to the standard of its zoo and amusement park counterparts.

The New Doctor

Fast forward to Summer 2018… game producer and lead artist from Bullfrog Productions joined Two Point Studios and have recently released Two Point Hospital – the long-awaited sequel of Theme Hospital.

It won’t take long to see the influence carried over from the older game. The graphic style, game modes, controls all will have you comfortable running a busy hospital without a reasonable learning curve. Best of all, there are a new wave of silly illnesses ranging from Light Headedness (lightbulb as a head), Jest Infection (patient turned into a clown), Pandemic (kitchen pot stuck on head), and many more.

Worth it?

Right now, the game is $35 on Steam. When I first saw the trailer, I imagined the game would retail for about $20-25. Part of this was based on memory of the size of Theme Hospital and lack of sandbox mode to provide fresh gameplay after completing the final mission. Looking for a new city-building type game to play, I decided to go ahead and grab the game anyway.

So far, I haven’t had any regrets. The game is everything Theme Hospital was and much more.

The operational part of the game is much more involved as staff members have significant variety in their personalities and skill-set. There is also a secondary currency used to unlock luxury/premium items to place around your hospitals.

You can jump between hospitals to return and spruce up the earlier plots with more advanced items. This adds a layer of replayability but we’ll all be holding our collective breaths for a true sandbox mode. One where you can fully customize the layout and even add objectives (breakdown and frequency of illnesses, types of staff available, and/or challenges like climate or build restrictions) would be fun as well.

Critics also agree. If you are even thinking about getting this game, I would recommend it!

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