You just can’t get the staff these days. That’s the conclusion I’ve come to after having my Two Point Hospital employees proclaim their bladders are at bursting point then stroll right past the toilets on their way to the drinks machine.
Fortunately for prospective players of this spiritual successor to Bullfrog’s Theme Hospital, that’s the only real problem the game suffers from. The same can’t be said of your patients, who will come to you with illnesses ranging from the mundane through to the utterly bizarre. But curing them of these ailments is such a joyous (and profitable) endeavour that you won’t begrudge them their ill-health.
National Heath Robinson Service
It can be a tad daunting when you’re presented with the vast, empty shell that will become your haven of health. And seeing someone wander in with a light bulb for a head, after having dealt with only minor illnesses, is enough to make you want to throw away your gold-plated manager’s clipboard. Yet Two Point Hospital does such a sterling job of easing you into your role that you’ll soon be dancing in glee at the prospect of curing a conga-line of Freddy Mercury impersonators.
Two Point Hospital is virtually identical in structure to Theme Hospital. So much so, in fact, that you might think that Electronic Arts had finally chosen to resurrect this long-dormant property, except that there’s a notable lack of micro-transactions. Instead, it has been brought to life by Two Point Studios, several members of which worked on the original Theme Hospital.
Like its spiritual predecessor, it’s absolutely loaded with humour. Everything, from the off-kilter nature of the illnesses through to the acerbic hospital announcer who encourages patients not to die on the premises, is designed to tickle your funny bone. And, I’m happy to report, there are far more hits than misses here, particularly if you have a taste for British comedy.
Money for something
But there’s a serious side to Two Point Hospital which involves the touchy subject of money, your coffers filling up with each patient you treat. Two Point Hospital‘s user interface is so intuitive that constructing rooms is a piece of cake. But the further you progress into the game, and the more hospitals you unlock, the more money matters. Sure, later locations throw up other challenges, such as earthquakes, but it all boils down to balancing the books.
It’s a slow but unmistakable shift in priorities that will test even the most well-intentioned player. You’ll start out constructing machines with wild abandon, but then you have to make the tough decisions, such as whether to push your employees harder and risk them resigning. Or do you fork out for a few more members of staff, knowing it may push your finances into the red?
As beautifully detailed and smoothly animated as Two Point Hospital‘s Heath Robinson-style machines are, building them is still a gamble. Your Clown Curing Machine could end up as an expensive white elephant if you don’t get enough big-shoed patients to make your money back. It doesn’t matter how much you support Medicare or the National Health Service; Two Point Hospital will turn you into a money-grubbing mercenary manager. And you’ll love it.
Less appealing is your employees’ somewhat erratic behaviour: aside from ignoring the toilets, they sometimes change rooms with no rhyme or reason. I’d given a doctor a research project so I could cure patients with a particular illness. He complained of being tired but, rather than going on a break, he chose to leave the research room and sit down in a GP’s office, even though there were no patients queued outside that office.
Two Point Software has attempted make the game’s staff system a little more complex than Theme Hospital‘s but it throws up odd behaviour like this. You can stop employees from having breaks at all when you’re trying to make your hospital run like clockwork; having doctors and nurses periodically abandon their posts can be a pain. Granted, sometimes it’s to go to a part of the hospital in which they’re needed, but the game sorely needs the ability to lock down employees to a particular post and let others deal with any issues that arise.
Yet, irritating as such oddball behaviour is, it’s not a game ruiner. Two Point Hospital is a ridiculously entertaining game that will challenge and delight in equal measure. Just remember to check your patients’ wallets and purses before you check for a pulse.