Business simulation game nostalgia is on the rise and frankly, I couldn’t be happier. From Planet Coaster and Planet Zoo right through to Jurassic World Evolution, many of our childhood favourites are seeing a much-deserved modern resurgence. Naturally that meant it was only a matter of time before Theme Hospital would see its day – enter Two Point Hospital. A spiritual successor to the 90’s favourite, Two Point Hospital has been on PC for quite some time now with its console launch finally landing today, though was that landing a smooth one?
On the surface, the premise of Two Point Hospital is quite simple. As the player, you are tasked with overhauling and reconstructing a series of hospitals within Two Point County, discovering and curing various illnesses along the way whilst managing developing hurdles on your journey. Whilst similar in structure to many other business sims, the game quickly unfolds to show you layers upon layers of quirks and character that turn out to be one of its strongest selling points. The illnesses you’ll be presented with are all comedic in nature and you’ll be shown plenty through your playthrough, ranging from ‘Pandemic’ (people with pans stuck on their heads) to those afflicted with ‘Mock Star’ (chronic and hilarious Freddie Mercury impersonators).
Of course, being a hospital, you’ll be managing quite a fleet of staff too…
The path to curing these patients is equally as entertaining and really goes to show how far the developers pushed themselves creatively. Of course, being a hospital, you’ll be managing quite a fleet of staff too – doctors, nurses, assistants, and janitors cover the broader categories, while each of them have their own specialisations that make each employee unique. You could have a doctor that works exclusively in psychiatry or surgery, or one that functions as a jack of all trades. There are pros and cons to each, and balancing their specialisations and salaries becomes a large part of your management role. Outside of this, there are elements of space management with designing the layout of your hospital as well as financial planning, all of which will impact your overall success.
As far as the campaign goes, Two Point Hospital’s is cleverly constructed in its progression. Each consecutive level feels a step up from its predecessor in terms of complexity, variety, and scale. Every level serves to teach you a new concept whilst testing you on what you have learned before, building you up to a point where you’re running a grand operation with many simultaneous running parts and responsibilities. You’ll also have various objectives along the way which will net you anywhere from one to three stars, which will unlock new stages to play. When you consider the bundled free DLC packs, the campaign proves lengthy enough to feel worth it – which is a plus, as it should be noted that consoles will not have the sandbox mode available at launch. I’ve been informed that this will be arriving in a free patch before the end of March though, so this isn’t cause for too much concern.
When you consider the bundled free DLC packs, the campaign proves lengthy enough to feel worth it.
It’s worth mentioning that while the game plays fair, sometimes it feels a bit too fair. Difficult is not a word I would use to describe Two Point Hospital, which will either be a pro or a con depending on what kind of player you are. Having had experience with more demanding series in my time, I did find the gameplay experience a little too simplistic for my tastes, especially as the learning curve is very forgiving. Couple this with my completionist nature, I found that going for 3-star ratings on every level would become more a laborious time sink than any sort of skillfully demanding experience. Money is rarely an issue thanks to the loan system as well as easy-to-earn awards, and having insufficient facilities to treat patients is easily solved by sending them home… with no consequence other than forgoing potential income.
Managing staff roles and having to further train and specialise them in later levels adds some difficulty, but not enough to truly challenge the player. As such, the game suffers from feeling repetitive, especially with aspects such as room design, as I found optimal designs early on and would use the copy-paste feature liberally. Despite being addictive at first, I felt the need to take a solid break and was drawn back more by ease-of-access and quirkiness than any desire to feel satisfied by gameplay.
Despite this, the game still shows its quality in a fair few ways. The art style and design are superb, and though not quite as polished on PlayStation 4 as it is on PC, it still holds up decently. The hospital announcer and radio hosts are a definite highlight for me; the hilarity of their dialogue and sarcasm really added to the atmosphere of the game, and though the music was lacking a bit in variety, I still found myself enjoying it. As far as console controls go, I must give credit where it is due. I think they did the best they could given the genre with the button-mapping on PS4.
Menu swapping is seamless and very intuitive, and I found myself thoroughly surprised with my transition from PC to PS4. It wasn’t bound to be perfect though, and so cursor precision is still a problem here – try as you can, you can’t beat the ease of use of a mouse. This proved problematic when trying to pick up smaller objects at times and made the controls more time-consuming than they needed to be. Unfortunately, the critiques don’t end there, and the low point of this game is that it is fraught with bugs.
the worst offender by far was a bug that corrupted my save… I was forced to start my campaign playthrough twice over…
Smaller ones such as staggered loading times and incorrect figures on the HUD are more of a nuisance than problematic, but the worst offender by far was a bug that corrupted my save. Yeah, the whole thing. I was forced to start my campaign playthrough twice over, and I’m pretty sure that would again be the case if I booted it up now. While I know that a day-one patch is being released to fix these issues (which are non-existent on PC), personally I wouldn’t take the risk playing this game in its current state. It’s just too dicey.
Ultimately, Two Point Hospital for PS4 shows itself to be a promising port with lots of potential, but with one too many bugs (and not the germ kind). It takes the business sim genre to fun new heights as far as character and personality go, but unfortunately is held back by nagging flaws that go to show this game is still best played on PC. If a console is all you have, I’d still recommend you go for it. Just wait for all those issues to be cured first.
Two Point Hospital (PS4)
Two Point Hospital on PS4 is a promising port with lots of potential, but is let down by numerous bugs and performance issues.