ESPN Sports Bar & Grill is like your favorite sports bar, on Facebook
In a lot of ways ESPN Sports Bar & Grill from Playdom is a lot like other restaurant management sims on Facebook. You’ll serve customers, complete goals, decorate your bar, and ensure that you stay stocked full of beer and peanuts. But it’s the game’s clever and well-integrated use of the ESPN license that make it what looks to be the go-to restaurant game for sports fans.
When you first start the game you’ll pick a sports club with which your establishment will become synonymous. And there’s a surprisingly large amount to choose from. In addition to the big four North American pro sports leagues — that is, the NHL, MLB, NBA, and NFL — you can also find clubs from some of the biggest soccer leagues in Europe and the burgeoning Major League Soccer from right here in North America.
In the beginning your bar is little more than a dump, with dingy floors and walls and little in the way of entertainment. You’ll have one employee who will serve customers automatically, but you can also click on hungry or thirsty customers to set off chains that will earn bonuses. As per the genre, there are goals to teach you the ropes of how to run the business, decorate it, and so on.
The core gameplay doesn’t feel all that different from similar games. But for sports fans, there’s a lot to dig into. Not only can you pick a home team and decorate the bar with sports-themed items, you can also put on actual sporting events on a big screen TV and even listen to ESPN radio as you play and follow the headlines via a news ticker at the top of the screen. There’s other product placement, as well, as the TVs and other electronics you can buy are real world products. You can even use gadgets like a Galaxy Tab tablet to keep your employees working faster.
Sports theme aside, ESPN Sports Bar & Grill looks great and the gameplay feels solid. There even seems to be some new features, such as the ability to kick out customers. Though, fortunately, we’ve yet to come across a customer who had a few too many and thus needed to be kicked out. The game has just launched on Facebook, so we’ll continue playing in preparation for a full review. Stay tuned.