Restaurant Empire II has launched in the UK ready for that wonderful British Summertime we all know and love, filled with rain and thunderstorms. With the barbeque season approaching full swing, all those UK gamers preparing for their culinary delights may find themselves locked in doors flipping burgers on the grill pan as opposed to over open flames with far too much regularity, and so enter Restaurant Empire II, the game intent on easing the loss of the opportunity to indulge in undercooked meat products and possibly a quick call to the fire brigade.
Whether or not Restaurant Empire II will offer an enticing alternative to attempting to ignite that rain soaked barbeque will entirely depend upon your view of Management Simulation games. Players looking for simple mechanics building to a greater overall depth may well be better looking towards Electronic Arts’ entirely respectable The Sims 3, those hoping to be afforded the opportunity to micro-manage every finer detail of their virtual world will find themselves becoming lost in Restaurant Empire II soon after that installation bar has closed.
A relatively simple introduction sees you given a restaurant and taught the basics of furniture placement and employing staff, before that holding hand is drawn back and the player is given a great deal of freedom as to how they wish to run their business. Michael Lebouf, your retired uncle granting you the opportunity to re-establish his restaurant after having given-up due to the shadow of a large multi-national corporation, will greet you regularly offering advice, information and, more infrequently, grand advancements in the opportunities that are available to you. Beginning with one small restaurant, it won’t be long until a small chain is developed that you will eventually call your “empire”.
But none of this come without some hard graft first, of course, and maintaining the correct balance of staff, price, menu and ambience takes a skilled hand, and though offering most dishes without default ingredient and price settings will, at first, allow you to concentrate more on the immediate aspects of your customers’ satisfaction, it won’t be long til opinions begin to change and the player is forced into delivering a personal touch to each and every aspect of their business.
The game features two campaigns and while both may feel somewhat similar in their objectives, each is distinct in their delivery. Further to this is the time-sink Sandbox Mode, which in typical fashion allows players to work as they please, so long as the bank balance stays in the black. Although it’s advisable to play through the campaigns first, most players will likely find the open-ended nature of the Sandbox Mode as a more appealing proposition.
Restaurant Empire II is a well presented game. While falling short of similarly positioned big budget releases, such as the aforementioned The Sims 3, Restaurant Empire II is not without character. The reassuringly bright palette and detailed objects make each location easy to navigate, and though some character models are noticeably better than others – the Non-Player Character (NPC) of the uncle, Michael Lebouf, is surprisingly better presented than the player’s virtual representation throughout the first campaign, Armand – none have been hastily designed and each works within their stereotyping.
Restaurant Empire II is a charmingly addictive game. Following in the stream chiselled by the likes of Theme Park and Theme Hospital, Restaurant Empire II will undoubtedly please those wishing to while-away those rainy hours with a self-imposed challenge, and although the detail into which it goes may alienate some Casual Gamers, those willing to learn it’s nuances will find the game to be a deeply involving experience. It may not make-up for having to move the party indoors, but with Restaurant Empire II you’re unlikely to be left short of an evening’s entertainment.
And don’t forget: You can win your very own copy of Restaurant Empire II from Iceberg Interactive right here!