Virtual City 2: Paradise Resort
In the world of time management/casual simulation games there are plenty of Build-a-Lot clones, so it was exciting a few years back when a new player entered the field with Virtual City. Rather than concentrate on building or development, Virtual City took the genre in a whole new direction by focusing the gameplay on the movement of goods, services, and people. Now, G5 Entertainment is back with Virtual City 2: Paradise Resort, which takes the transportation madness to new and interesting heights.
Transportation is the not-so-hidden secret of how cities work. You can build skyscrapers, office buildings, and factories, but without some way of moving raw materials, goods, and people, the whole thing falls apart. Water, Rail, even Flight can be good ways of moving goods and materials over long distances, but within the confines of a single city transportation like that is dependent upon trucks. Good thing you own a trucking company, isn't it? The game consists of over 50 levels, each a small town or city that is in need of some good infrastructure building.
An annoying woman will pop up at the beginning of each level and give you the lowdown on what needs to be done. Does the local populace need something to eat? Perhaps you need a pie factory, the simplest of the merchandise "chains". To get pies to the general populace all you need is a wheat farm, a mill to grind the wheat, a dairy farm for butter, eggs, and milk, a bakery to bring it all together, and four trucks to move all of the materials and finished product. As the game progresses you will be faced with longer and more complex chains to create more complex goods, as well as other challenges to bring the current city or town up to snuff.
Actions are completed with a simple click of a mouse. A tabbed menu at the bottom shows each level's goals, keeps tracks of vehicles, and has the handy construction menu for building necessary houses, roads, tourist destinations, and the like. Each level will have its own unique requirements you need to meet before you can move on. The game begins with a basic stock of certain buildings which are added to in the "R&D" lab after each round, using the investment points earned by finishing a level. Complete a level in a certain amount of time and you earn gold, giving you more investment points to upgrade or to buy new types of buildings.
G5 Entertainment has added some new twists that shake up the gameplay pretty quickly when compared to the original game. In Virtual City 2 you not only have to worry about the movement of goods and services, but the movement of your town's inhabitants (and tourists) goes front and center this time around with the addition of office buildings, motels, resorts, and the like. What good are office buildings if people can't get there to work? And what good are resorts without tourists? With a limited amount of vehicles that can be run out of headquarters the challenge becomes how to balance materials transport, people moving, and garbage disposal without your city coming to a virtual standstill.
Analysis: So many time management and simulation games tend to rest on their laurels, creating game after game with the exact same gameplay updated only with new visuals (cough, Farm Frenzy, cough) so it's nice that Virtual City 2 avoids that trap. The visuals have certainly been upgraded with the new buildings and the like, and the backgrounds are filled with lovely details that catch the eye. What makes Virtual City 2 exciting, though, is the new twist on the gameplay that certainly causes any veteran to rethink their strategies as the levels progress.
The graphics are bright and colorful, the animations amusing, and the lively music is a perfect fit for Virtual City 2. As you travel from the Beehive state to the Sunshine state to the Silver state and The Last Frontier (that's Utah, Florida, Nevada, and Alaska to non-US natives) the background scenery changes accordingly, as does the weather. Those who have played the original Virtual City will recognize the animations of the little vehicles as they go about their duties, as well as the animations of the factories which have also been joined by trains, boats, and even planes leaving and coming back taking goods and returning tourists on certain levels. All of these factors combine to make Virtual City 2 a treat for the eyes, ears, and brain.
If there are any complaints they are minimal, mostly involving the amount of instruction available for what makes a truck, dumpster truck, or bus more efficient and profitable, leaving you to flounder a bit and figure it out for yourself. Other than that there is very little to complain about, making Virtual City 2 a fun and frantic way to spend a lot of time trying on various civic improvements. Take Virtual City 2 for a spin and become the trucking magnate you've always wanted to be! Just, you know, try to avoid the teamsters if possible.