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Restaurant Empire II Review: Cooking Up A Storm

Restaurant Empire II

Trevor Chan is perhaps one of the lesser known designers in the PC industry, mostly because his strategy games are very dry, but ridiculously complex. One such example of this is “Capitalism 2,” a game where you start your own business in almost any field such as retail, manufacturing, real estate, advertising, or if you have the money, all of the above. “Restaurant Empire II” borrows many of the elements from Chan’s previous games; the depth, number crunching, and dry theme. And with all of these features added together, the resulting game will cause mixed feeling depending on what side of the fence you’re sitting on.

The reason why I didn’t make a big comparison from “Restaurant Empire II” to the original “Restaurant Empire” is very simple: they are identical, except for a few added features. “Restaurant Empire II” contains the exact same interface, play style, and problems that the first one has; if you were expecting a game with some kind of overhaul, like the way that “The Sims” does, you won’t find it here. This is literally the exact same game that you loved/hated in 2003, except for a handful of new additions.

Restaurant Empire II

Most of the aforementioned additions in “REII” are focused on the Dessert and Coffee style restaurant. In “RE,” players could mainly build classy restaurants, but in the sequel you can start building fancy coffee shops (think NOT Starbucks). Although this may sound like a welcome change, the game style isn’t all that different when compared to “old way.” You still slap random paintings on the wall, fill up your kitchen with appliances, and mess around with the lights. The only major changes is how you set up shop by putting in a “counter area” and using furniture to accommodate it. Otherwise, it’s the exact same game where you hire staff members (with questionable path finding A.I.), can only improve the morale of poor employees by giving them a big pay raise, and throw away bits of restaurant management realism.

The major problem with the original “RE” was the simple fact that there were way too many questionable design decisions in terms of functionality and realism. One of the big gripes were the staff members, who seem to be rude to almost anyone, and the servers could not be assigned specific tables (only floors). The other problem is the inconsistent amount of decorations from one themed restaurant to the other - a French restaurant has around twenty decorative items while a Rock and Roll themed one only has four. Again, nothing has changed in “REII.”

However, the most vital part of any restaurant is completely absent in both “RE” and “REII,” and you know what that is? Tips. There are no tips in this game, which is completely absurd since anyone who works at, or has ever eaten at a restaurant knows this is part of the business (at least in North America). This could have added an interesting dynamic to the game by making tips improve morale of the employees and force players to re-think their decoration and food quality in order to get big tips. What makes this more ludicrous is that “RE” was released in 2003 and in 2009, this is still not implemented.

Restaurant Empire II

The only notable content that could receive a small bit of praise as an addition to the first “RE” is the campaign that comes with “RE2.” Essentially you are looking at more than thirty campaign missions, plus a sandbox mode that has the additional restaurant themes, styles, and decoration. For it’s small price, you are receiving quite a bit of content that rivals big budget games.

“Restaurant Empire II” is not entirely bad game game, especially when compared to many of the tycoon games that flood the Wal-Mart shelves; this is definitely one of the best out there. However, tycoon games weren’t that great to begin with a few notable expectations such as “Rollercoaster Tycoon.” The only way to describe “Restaurant Empire II” is extremely polished when compared to other tycoon games, yet it still hasn’t managed to fix the problems of the previous games despite the huge gap in years. If you were disappointed with the first one, there is nothing to see here, but if you are the first time and want to dig into a restaurant tycoon game, this is a good start with its meaty content.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

“Restaurant Empire II” is a PC game that was developed by Enlight Software and published by Paradox Interactive on May 26th, 2009.

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