Two Point Hospital Hands-On Impressions – We Can Cure the World
I love Theme Hospital. This is a game that is 21 years old and, despite clunky UI issues, has aged fantastically. Of course, SEGA then announcing Two Point Hospital was the highlight of that particular day for me. Actually playing the game. The question then is if my love for Theme Hospital would get in the way of this spiritual successor.
I've been fortunate to be sent a preview copy before Gamescom, where I'll have a little more time with the game and interview the developers. Having played the first for levels of the game to completion, I think I've got a good idea of where the game is going. Here's what I think of Two Point Hospital so far.
This statement isn't as negative as it may sound, but Two Point Hospital just doesn't feel new. The ability to just jump in and play, especially for veterans of Theme Hospital, is uncanny. You just feel right at home dragging out room spaces, placing down equipment and keeping an eye on the comical ailments that affect your patients. This isn't to say that it's just an HD remake - most certainly not. Two Point Studios have brought in elements that truly let the game stand alone.
Managing a private hospital is not easy. From starting with the basic infrastructure of a building and expanding that. Putting aside rooms for your employees to work in and even hiring these employees. Of course, you sadly have a number of sick people who need to visit these rooms. Make sure you've got a reception with a receptionist to guide them.
Much like the NHS, there are long queues though - make sure you've got sufficient seating and amenities to keep the patients happy during their stay. It can be a comically long stay too - I had one patient who eventually stormed out, having not been treated, after over 200 days in my hospital. To keep them happy you'll need toilets, vending machines, water fountains, shops and even magazine racks. Anything to meet any of the needs that fleshy, ill, humans inevitably require.
What makes this special is just how the needs system works and how you can play with it. For example, placing down a vending machine with salted snacks will increase the thirst level of patients. Naturally, this can increase the sales of your drinks vending machines. It's a way to make a steady stream of income. However, you'll need to ensure the balance is right or you could have a swarm of very thirsty, angry, patients leaving your hospital and wrecking your reputation.
You'll even have other, larger things to work with and against. For example, the temperature of some regions will be very low, requiring radiators to heat it up. Others will be naturally hot and humid, so you're going to need air conditioning. However, use too many radiators or air cons in one place and you'll have gone too far and negatively affect your staff and patients.
It's all very important as each of your hospital's level up and, once having met certain conditions, gains a star. There is a maximum of three stars for every hospital - though once you have met the conditions for the second star you are able to move onto the next hospital. This all takes place in Two Point County, featuring a number of locations that need a hospital.
None of your money or staff carries over to the next region, though any technology does carry over. Your old hospitals seem to exist in a state of stasis, running but not really running. If you've been struggling to get the third star in one hospital, you can advance, research more advanced rooms that would help you out and go back to get that third star. Thanks to the system, you really shouldn't ever find yourself stuck in a holding pattern or grinding - unless you choose to do so.
A lot of the true advancements come from ease of use. Wall-mounted items will auto-rotate for you. Other items are very quick and easy to rotate and place, either using the grid-locking option or freeform. It's all very quick and easy to just jump in and get started. It will become more complicated as the game goes on. Staff are also easy to organise, with a simple menu to allow some staff to do certain jobs while not having them do others. Just make sure you've got enough staff.
Fortunately, there's never anything that isn't explained or at least easy enough to understand. There's a brief and simple tutorial at the start and everything else then is explained by the comedic radio station and intercom found within your hospital. So if you're short a few doctors and queues start forming at the GP rooms, you'll be frequently hearing an intercom announcement for "Doctor to attend at GP room".
Being developed by a British team you can also expect a good stream of our wit and charm. I'm not ashamed to say I still chuckle at the name "Lower Bullocks" where a mental illness leaves a number of people to believe they're rock stars. Of course, those suffering from this illness look like Freddie Mercury. Or maybe the Pandemic illness which has people suffering from... having a pan stuck on their head. There are others, better, and undoubtedly ones I haven't encountered yet.
While I can't truly judge how good, or bad as the case may be, Two Point Hospital will be at release, I've thoroughly enjoyed what I've played. There's a lot left unexplained, or at least left for you to guess will happen later in the game. For example, going into the world and working out how your hospitals can interact and benefit each other. Reports do indicate that you will be able to specialise with hospitals. How this will work is yet to be explained.
The handful of levels made available to me were fun, charming and engaging and have given me an idea of where the game is going. If it carries on like it started, the game will be a perfect successor to Theme Hospital. Is it new and unique? No. That would certainly be defeating the point.
So far I've spent over 25 hours with Two Point Hospital. Two nights when playing, I realised it'd turned 3 am and I actually needed sleep. Coming out on the 30th of August, this is certainly a game to watch out for. It's one I'm looking forward to playing even further.