Reading the title of any is usually enough to know what to expect of it. Build It! Miami Beach Resort by Cerasus Media is no exception in this case, but anyone who thinks that this game is just another blatant copy of the Build-a-Lot series might be proven wrong in the end. Despite some minor faults this new entry to an ever-growing genre introduces enough twists to convince.
When Claire Parker learns that she has inherited a large amount of money along with a promising landholding from her uncle, she is a bit hesitant at first, because the only condition for this inheritance is for Claire to enter into the hotel business. In a rather cliched intro presenting the well-known "I’m going to prove to my former boss that I’m capable of being successful" scenario, she accepts the task, thus launching a campaign of 60 levels, each level signifying one year of her future life as a business woman.
Build It! Miami Beach Resort is closer to time management games like Cake Mania than other building simulations because of the fact that you are actually controlling only one worker, namely Claire, who is apparently responsible for each and every task that you are assigning. This means the player is not able to improve skills or train additional workers, although this is far from a disadvantage – in fact, it’s a kind of relief that simplifies an otherwise very hectic game.
What is absolutely great about Build It! Miami Beach Resort is the fact that you will play all of those 60 years on the same map, with new building lots added every decade. You pick up all the buildings and money from the former level to the next, so that all your plans really pay off, and it is simply great to see your resort really growing over time. This is an aspect which is really superior to other building simulations, although Build It! Miami Beach Resort still lacks the freedom to build anywhere you want to like in Coconut Queen.
In each of the levels you have to finish a growing number of construction tasks along with three goals. To complete any level in expert time, which provides you with a nice amount of bonus money, you have to fulfill all those goals and tasks before July 2nd, while you have the whole year to just pass a level. There are three different groups of buildings, namely lodgings, leisure facilities, and recreational facilities. Buildings affect each other, and to be quick and successful you have to keep the number of those different buildings very balanced.
Recreational buildings, such as parks, playgrounds, or beach-volleyball courts do not provide any income, but they increase the attractiveness of your land, which is the only important factor to get more tourists. Leisure facilities, namely cinemas, bars, or restaurants on the other hand need tourists to be profitable. So there is always a strong relation between your income, the attractiveness of your beach resort, and the number of buildings of each group.
You are able to upgrade lodgings and leisure facilities later on to increase their tourist capacity (and thereby the possible profit), and change their appearance, which tends to look outdated after one or two decades. While your goals never change, and always consist of a certain number of tourists, a specific attractiveness rating, and your account balance, the construction tasks vary greatly in each level, thereby being the real challenge. Those tasks often include complicated conditions, such as a green Villa Coco near a Bar, but far away from a Disco, which is not that easy later on when your whole beach is already covered with buildings. On top of that you only have a specific number of building permits in each level, so that it often requires a lot of strategic thinking to reach your goals and to fulfill the construction tasks.
While the graphics of Build It! Miami Beach Resort are definitely easy on the eyes, the presentation of the game is still a bit lifeless. The only person on the map is Claire, there are no surfers on the sea, no tourists, and no cars on the streets, which is a small letdown, because after 20 or thirty 30 levels it just gets boring to watch Claire running around a deserted resort. Another problem of the game is the size of the overhead map later on. There is no way to jump to specific buildings directly, or to recognize them quickly on the mini-map. Thus it can become highly frustrating when you have to build a Hotel near a Disco, but can’t find a Disco with a free lot next to it quickly enough.
However, apart from those minor issues, this game without a doubt belongs to the better titles of the building simulation genre. The gameplay itself is fast-paced and requires constant attention; it barely happens that you don’t have enough money to proceed, that there are no new tasks to assign, or that Claire is to slow to keep up with your own planning. Each level feels completely fresh and different from the former one, and you will be quite disappointed when you learn that Claire will retire after 1979, thereby ending the game and the campaign. All that is left to do then is the so-called "Riot Mode", which absolutely does justice to its name. Here you have to completely demolish your own resort which you have built in the course of six decades as quickly as possible.
In the end we can only hope that the Build It! indicates the beginning of a new series, because this title is already entertaining and unique enough as it is, and with some minor improvements for possible sequels this game could easily compete with leading titles of the genre such as Build-a-Lot or Coconut Queen. Enjoy the ride through six decades at the beach of Miami and plan and watch the growth of your resort.