‘Two Point Campus’ offers evolution, not revolution
To finish, I am enjoying the world’s seemingly endless appetite for nostalgia for the good old days. 25 years later Hospital Theme was released, and four years later Two Points Hospitalhis
remake spiritual successor has debuted, we’re getting a real sequel.
Two-point campus takes players back to the world of Two Point County, this time tasked with building a string of new universities in plots adjacent to previously dysfunctional hospitals you’ve finished renovating.
I recently played an early version of the game’s first two levels. Freshleigh Meadows is a scaled-down tutorial stage, while the Rome-inspired Piazza Lanatra is the second area players can look forward to. With the release date pushed back to August 9, I feel like the title isn’t yet as polished as the developers might have hoped. This is, at least in part, attributed to the fact that much of it was created remotely while staff members were cooped up at home.
I had (re)finished only recently Two Points Hospital and I discovered that I could get through those early levels with my instincts alone. At first glance, you might get the impression that Campus is a bit too similar to its predecessor to be considered a standalone sequel. Much of it was carried over roughly from the previous title, but with a bit of graphic polish. The team clearly felt that if it wasn’t broken there was no point in trying to fix it, at least as far as I’ve played so far.
The most notable difference is that Two Point wanted to address the most common complaint made by players of Hospital – that they didn’t like layout puzzles. At a time Hospital Theme and Two Points Hospital, you receive intentionally problematic floor plans on which to build your facility. It’s part of the basic mechanism, forcing you to optimize your layouts both for a fast patient journey and to make the most of the space allowed. This strange dogleg building too small for an x-ray room? It’s your mission to try to fill it with Somethingit is point.
With Two-point campus, this is no longer the case, since you can now shell out money to change the boundaries of your building and even move entrances. You can claim or return land in your garden space depending on your needs at each level. Having weird building layouts that wasted acres of potentially useful space was part of the playful sadism of the game. I’d complain more about those damn kids needing things easier, but I’m getting there .
And you no longer solve efficiency, but also aesthetics. Outdoor spaces can be filled with trees, pathways, flora, and concessions, among other things. Your obligation is not only to educate people, but also to ensure that your students learn in a pleasant environment.
Financial management is less a key factor in Campus, because success is now linked to the performance of your students. This means monitoring underperforming students whom you will have to send to private lessons or expel those who are not up to standard. You will also need to organize events for people to meet, both socially and romantically. You can buy campus romance trinkets like loveseats to encourage cute dating on your watch. I don’t know if I’m a fan; this sounds like the wrong kind of topic for a light business simulation game to tackle.
Universities are also much less a gold mine for goofy jokes than a caricatural hospital. Sure, there are still funny menu gags and radio commentary, but there’s just less to poke fun at on a campus. Weirdest thing I’ve seen so far are trainee chefs cooking an SUV-sized burger in a slightly larger skillet. It’s a far cry from unscrewing a light bulb that pops out of someone’s neck when they suffer from “dizziness”.
Campus‘ the sense of scale has also changed quite significantly, and Hospital players may find larger rooms more difficult. Although you can build a functional clinic from only 3×3 sized pieces, the default area in Campus is closer to 5×5. There’s also a lot more stuff to cram into each room, with a more maximalist sense of design compared to the last game. I suspect it’s because of those Hospital players min-max their hospital sequels with impractical items.
Luckily, you can now build bathrooms on 2×1 land, so any available room in your campus halls can now be used.
Even as a loud and proud fan, I’m mature enough to admit that titles wear down their welcome after a while. Hospital, while brilliant, essentially required you to play the same set of gameplay loops across its 15 levels. Yes, the ladder got bigger and so did the obstacles, but by the time I reached the final level, the hardest challenge was to maintain my interest.
It’s something Two Point seems to be aware of, carefully making sure you can’t blast through its new game with the same ruthless speed. Part of this is due to the three “year” cycle the game uses for your participants to graduate. The other is a greater focus on actively managing your campus beyond compressing every penny of its walls.
At the start of Piazza Lantara, I ran out of money – which often meant restarting a level in Hospital. But here you can just wait, burn off a year of raising some kids in order to recoup the losses without ever needing to take out a loan. (Two Point could never, ever run away from the satirical point that nothing is more important than protecting your bottom line in whatever privatized industry you run.)
If there’s one thing I wish the developers had spent more time on, it’s for the game to be frustrating. intangible. There are plenty of cases where you need to improve your hygiene rating, for example, and have to plaster every wall with hand sanitizer stations and trash cans. But because too many staff are “unhygienic” you’ll never get there unless you start firing people.
This is one of the game’s problems that is often most reliably solved by visiting a Reddit thread, as the solutions are often buried beyond a casual gamer’s ability to find them. I also wish the UI was less finicky when it comes to duplicate rooms with duplicate items on the walls. Having to manually remove internal windows, for example, seems to be more difficult this time around than it was in Hospital. (And another: why can’t I put a sanitizer dispenser on top of a trash can, since they don’t occupy the same space?)
But none of these troubles, no matter how annoying, will keep me from hanging on eagerly Campus the day of its launch. I poured eight hours into these early levels, while suffering from COVID-19, as it’s as addictive as its predecessor. I feel like there will be the usual time in my life when I swallow every waking minute that I do nothing else. While Two-point campus is pretty much the same game as its predecessor, it’s still welcome.
Two-point campus will debut on PC, Mac, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox Game Pass and Nintendo Switch on August 9, 2022.