Virtual Resort: Spring Break (PC) Preview

 

 

Virtual Resort: Spring Break (PC) Preview

 

Virtual Resort: Spring Break (PC) Preview

 

Virtual Resort: Spring Break (PC) Preview

 

Virtual Resort: Spring Break (PC) Preview

 

Virtual Resort: Spring Break (PC) Preview


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Platform: PC

Developer: Deep Red

Publisher: Eidos

 

Genre:  Sim/Management

 

ETA: Summer 2002

 

 

 

Virtual Resort: Spring Break (Hands-On)

 

If Playboyís Girls of Spring Break and really bad T&A flicks have taught me anything, itís that if you go to the beach you will see the many, many hot girls in tiny bikinis who will fall into bed with you if your blood-alcohol level is 0.10.  This is why I was a little taken aback to find that Virtual Resort: Spring Break (SB) is more Simcity or Tropico than a week of half-remembered events and a blistering sunburn.  But you know what?  Thatís not a bad thing.

 

Although itís not finished yet, after taking the Alpha/Beta for a spin SB is showing promise.

 

SB puts you in the shoes of resort manager.  Your overriding objective is a simple one: make money.  But of course, to do this you have to build a resort that will bring the tourists and drunken students (trying to forget that their college educations probably wonít get them a job), while overcoming staff problems, bad weather, litter, and sharks.  The concept is familiar and easy to get a handle on.  Of all comparisons, the strongest one is with last yearís Tropico, but SB differs in a number of areas.

 

Since this is a resort simulator you donít have to worry about politics in any way, shape or form.  Of course, you still have a whole lot to manage.  Because youíre trying to make money, a careful balance has to be struck between how much you pay your staff (to keep them happy) and how much you charge the guests to visit your services and use your amenities.  There are a variety of different staff members available, from lifeguards to security men to construction workers.

 

Virtual Resort: Spring Break (PC) Preview      Virtual Resort: Spring Break (PC) Preview

 

These specialized staff become available upon completion of specific structures, such as a mechanicís shop to access the essential mechanic that repairs and maintains buildings.  You always start with a small force of construction workers to do your bidding Ė but only during working hours.  There is the option available to change the workers hours so you have people on call around the clock.  This turns out to be essential as your resort can take a huge beating if no one is around to clean up or maintain a semblance of order.  Of course, your workers tend to get annoyed if theyíre left on night shift too long, and so a decrease in productivity occurs.

 

SB features a convincing day/night cycle.  The hours preceding dawn are eerily quiet, the stragglers with their heads down stumbling to the hotel.  As the landscape brightens the older folks head out to enjoy the beach and by the afternoon the place is crawling with people (provided you have a lot of people staying).

 

So much hinges on pleasing your guests (a mix of the college crowd and middle-aged folks).  Charging them $12 for a hamburger isnít going to win any fans, neither will charging $6 for a shower.  But if they really want them to, theyíll do anything Ė but more likely theyíll pack their bags and leave.  Each guest has a cash amount that theyíre likely to plunk down if you have the right mix of restaurants, water attractions, general entertainment, and bathrooms.  Thereís a ticker-tape at the bottom of the screen telling you what your guests want or specific problems (i.e. Your power plant is offline).  You can also click on each individual guest to learn what they like and donít like, how their needs are being met, etc.  You could spend all day clicking on guests and trying to meet individual needs, but it would be a waste of time because you canít please everybody.

 

For design freaks, SB offers a pretty good selection of buildings and various other items, but because of the graphic engine, you canít rotate the scene to see behind buildings (at least not in this build) although the buildings can be rotated before theyíre built.  The graphics are finely detailed in the mid-zoom view.  Getting close turns everything into a pixel-fest and renders the babes to Leisure Suit Larry II proportions (although you get a chance to see the animation up close).  The zoomed out view offers the best way to build and design your resort since the mid-zoom seems a little too claustrophobic.  However close-in is probably the preferred method when putting in trees, flowers, benches, lights, etc.  The gardening aspect Ė at least in the aesthetic sense since you donít have to worry about soil types, rainfall, etc. Ė is totally fun.  Itís also essential to keeping your guests happy Ė good-looking scenery means theyíre more likely to stay and spend $12 on suntan lotion and $6 to rent a beach chair.  I spent an embarrassing amount of time fiddling with plants to achieve a beauty not found in nature.

 

There are, of course, things that need improving with SB.  For one, some of the guests are totally stupid.  Youíre notified that a guest canít find a path to the beach.  You click on the handy link-jump (my term) to reach said guest who appears to be wandering back and forth just inches from the beach.  And no matter how many sidewalks you lay down, the little bugger still canít get down to the beach.  There are other bizarre AI traits that I couldnít figure out, like a line of 25 guests that werenít lined up for anything.  The worker AI has to be improved.  They never seem to do anything on their own (i.e. If they see a mound of litter the cleaners should clean it up, rather than just standing around).  This is one micromanagement aspect that is better left to the computer.  Itís too easy to get caught up with other things then realize your hamburger stand is about to collapse due to poor maintenance. (This always seemed to happen in the middle of the night.)  There is the option to schedule regular maintenance but it didn't seem to be working.  Throughout my time with SB, I never saw any naughty business or topless females.  This isnít exactly what we typically expect from Spring Break frolics, which are mostly based on Fort Lauderdale exposes.  You will find people passed out, there are vomit sounds, but if youíre looking for real debauchery you might be disappointed.

 

With a good number of scenarios to work through, a sand box option, some smooth tunes, easy interface, and weather effects (scorching sun to thunderstorms and their effects on your guests) to cap things off, Virtual Resort: Spring Break is sure to appeal to those that grew up with Simcity and had fun with Tropico.  Spring Break comes early Ė it ships late Summer 2002.

 

- Omni