Welcome to “Chez Fragland”. On the menu today: Restaurant Empire. A subtle mix between a tycoon game and a management sim. But do enter and don’t let yourself get scared away by it’s scruffy look but discover the spicy mixture beneath the silicium layer on the outside.
“Oh no, not another management sim!” Probably a lot of you are already thinking this, but it’s quite safe to say that Restaurant Empire brings the management sim genre back to it’s roots. The game is divided in 2 different gametypes. First of all you have the normal campaign-mode. In this you play the role of a brilliant young chef called Armand LeBoeuf, who takes over the restaurant of his uncle and tries to make it in the hard world that is the restaurant business. 18 missions long and all very well balanced. The second mode is the sandbox-mode. This mode can be compared to the Free Build-mode in games like Stronghold for example. You chose the style of your restaurant (French, American or Italian), then you chose the location, your staff (chefs, waiters, busboys, …), decorate your restaurant and bob’s your uncle, you’re off. Personally I found this last game-mode more challenging than the campaign, because in the Sandbox-mode you can start multiple restaurants in multiple cities.
Gameplay is quite all right as you can see, the missions are well balanced, varied (for as far that is possible off course) and there is plenty of space for the experimental person in us. But as with all good things a few bad things have come to kill the day. Indeed there are a few, little bugs that aren’t annoying at first, but after a while they will make you a very frustrated gamer. For a starter: the solving of small problems. As you will all agree, before you can solve a problem, you have to find it first, and that is a major difficulty. You’re browsing through screens of stats, and when you finally found it and think you have solved it, the same problem is back. Let me give you an example: consumers complaining about rude staff. Possible solutions: lowering the pay, raising the pay or hiring new staff. The first 2 don’t seem to work, so we sack the whole lot and hire a new staff with better qualifications. Problem solved you think, or so you hoped. One minute later, a new complaint: your staff is being rude. People could get depressed of that.
Another frustrating point: decorating your restaurant. Try to decorate your toilets or kitchen without looking in the manual. It won’t work whatever you try. When you finally discover how to do it (first clicking the floor and then clicking the decoration menu), the game suddenly goes a bit smoother. And the more money you make, the more items you get to decorate your restaurant with and believe me, there are a lot of items if you get them all.
I can be quite short about the graphics and the music. Graphics are good but not outstanding. Definitely not bad though, far from it. Sometimes the camera does a bit weird when you try to view another part of your restaurant, but besides that, it’s all quite smooth. Music is ok too, not much variation in it, but as music has a strictly background part in Restaurant Empire that isn’t a problem.
And finally a little announcement of public interest: patching your game. The patch that should solve a lot of the problems with the camera and other stuff couldn’t be installed for some weird reason. If anyone knows the solution, feel free to contact me.