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Game Over Online ~ Virtual Resort: Spring Break

GameOver Game Reviews - Virtual Resort: Spring Break (c) Eidos Interactive, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Virtual Resort: Spring Break (c) Eidos Interactive
System Requirements Windows, Pentium II 450, 128MB RAM, 950MB HDD, 8x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 70%
Date Published Monday, October 7th, 2002 at 10:58 AM


Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Spring Break is a unique combination of a wholly North American holiday phenomenon and the simulation or management of a virtual resort. Most people these days would simply pass it off as a vapid Vacation Resort Tycoon. Come to think of it, that one is probably already released, if not in the works. Critics tend to call these types of games, "tycoon" games, something that would raise the eyebrows of people outside the industry. Whatever the generalization, Spring Break is a charming title. It's like flipping through one of those Club Med or Royal Princess cruise magazines real fast.

The point of Spring Break is to build a resort that is able to cater to guests that drop off by the boatloads. Guests want a lot of things out of their vacation. They might want amusement, ranging from something as simple as a paddleboat to sophisticated theme bars and beach dance floors. There's also the need for food, whether it's a burger from the beach grill or a fancy upscale restaurant. The better guests are treated, the more chance you have of gaining a profit. And these profits, in turn, are invested back into your park. Wait, that was a slip, your resort. However, to build any of these, you need a sizeable infrastructure, including builders to actually commence construction of the buildings, mechanics to maintain them, cleaners to make the area sanitary and other necessary personnel.

Like most business simulations, Spring Break lets you tweak salaries and prices in a continual battle to find the most profit at the least cost-capitalism par excellence. However, there is also the consideration of space when it comes to a resort and optimizing it to cater to the patterns of your guests is also another factor in squeezing the most profit out. Obviously, you want to place things in a logical way. Drinks, alcohol and ice cream all clustered in one corner of the island are not the best way to distribute profits. Buildings that are too cramped, for example, yield shallow lines and sap potential revenue.

Everything is not about stodgy business practices and balance sheets in Spring Break. There's a good use of color, especially the light blue user interface, to keep everything light-hearted, like a vacation resort. This mood is reinforced by an excellent soundtrack. It captures the idyllic daytime scenery with its easy-listening but switches to tracks with more bass and dance emphasis during the night. Some of the tracks even feature a little vocal action. Altogether, it is the music and the color palette that plunges you into the resort world. In fact, there were times I felt like I was looking at the travel magazine ads, wishing I were on the sandy beaches myself.

Spring Break divides the bulk of its time between a sandbox mode and a dozen set scenarios. Both modes of play are exclusive to one another. The dozen scenarios typically feature badly run resorts and require you to bail them out, whether it is from lack of entertainment, too many drowned guests or lack of sustenance. All of them have a set time limit to them with the longest ones ranging to about ten days. Most of them are completed in about four or five days game time. That translates to about less than an hour of real time for a quick and efficient player. While you may not get the point of the mission on first try, you'll likely pass it without too much trouble if you focus on the problem at hand. A lot of the pre-built resorts look great but they have potential flaws before they become a profit machine but the scenarios demand you to put resources to achieving the objectives, instead of improving the overall welfare of the resort. So, as long as you are able to keep your head straight and your activities focused, you're pretty much guaranteed to win.

During my play with Spring Break, I found I enjoyed the sandbox mode a lot better and then, when I thought about the scenarios, I thought how much better it would be if both of them were united. If, for example, I could take on challenges and complete objectives when I felt my resort was ready. Then I thought, hey, didn't Sid Meier and Will Wright put that in SimGolf? They did and in retrospect, it looks like that was a much better system, where you could take those challenges and objectives when you felt like it.

Ultimately, the scenarios are going to be a little too short to keep anyone interested for as long a time as Rollercoaster Tycoon or The Sims has been on the charts. Spring Break's sandbox mode is also limited by the fact that there is little depth in the game. Yes, you can build a theme bar after you build a soft drink stand but what about the products? My mind returns to the progenitor of this genre: Bullfrog's underappreciated Theme Park. Developers of that game knew there were a set number of buildings you could offer in an enclosed 'thematic' setting. That same flaw plagues Spring Break. How many resort-type buildings could you offer without it being too overwhelming? The geniuses at Bullfrog thought upgrades through different product offerings or makeovers would be a way to recycle old buildings and make everything fresh again. Spring Break, unfortunately, is inflexible in that department.

There are also other quirks with Spring Break. The employees on your resort tend to like 9-5 jobs. I like 9-5 jobs too but when it comes to the hospitality sector, I think shift-work is the norm. I tried putting some workers on night shifts permanently and despite doubling their pay, their productivity and happiness fell in tandem night after night. Some things, like building new features to a resort, are best done around the clock.

Did I also mention there is something risqué about Spring Break? The installation process, which features stylized artistic drawings of women in bikinis and female chest assets really gives the wrong attitude about the game. The actual game is relatively harmless, even the in-game 'romps' between the two sexes. Moreover, the sex is not exactly an integral part of the game. In fact, I think the game's artwork is going to be read as misleading. Those expecting something more than just sultry will be disappointed but the developers have good cause. I think the market is so much bigger now that the Leisure Suit Larry type products would only target a small niche.

In its simplest barebones state, Spring Break is all about oiling the capitalist machinery. Through research, you're supposed to get the customer experience so right that your business becomes a revenue generating machine, like Starbucks or Krispy Kreme. Aside from that, Spring Break does have its charms, most notably through its humorous anecdotes, sexual overtures, source material and vibrant aesthetics. Unfortunately, like all spring getaways, this trip of laughs and fun in the sun is ultimately a short and abbreviated one.

 

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Rating
70%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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