Virtual City 2: Paradise Resort
Creating an interesting, accessible and complex city simulation is no small feat, but developer G5 Entertainment managed it with Virtual City, a truly underrated game. With the release of its sequel, Virtual City 2: Paradise Resort, it’s safe to say that the formula still works.
Virtual City 2: Paradise Resort features 52 levels in four different locations in the United States. You are also able to continue playing any level after you have beaten it – considering that some levels take 20 minutes to be finished and that even very experienced players will have to replay some levels to finish them in expert time, it is no exaggeration that the game will easily keep you busy for 15 hours.
So for all of you who haven’t played the first part, what’s the core of Virtual City 2: Paradise Resort? Basically, it’s the most profound and complex city simulation you can find on the casual market. Not only are you managing public transport and production chains in various small towns and bigger cities, but you are also responsible for constructing and upgrading the required buildings wherever they fit.
Surpassing its predecessor in every possible way (buildings, products, production chains and achievements), Virtual City 2: Paradise Resort enables the player to take visitors from railways, airports and marinas to hotels and entertainment buildings, to create bus stops for inhabitants to travel to other parts of the city, the mall or the stadium, and last but not least to introduce trading routes with neighboring cities and establish production chains within the city bounds.
While it’s absolutely easy to construct buildings, buy vehicles and create routes, the overall connection between those elements and to accumulate profit is very challenging. Each production chain requires at least four buildings – to make pies you need a grain farm, a mill, a dairy farm and a baker. When all these buildings are in place, trucks can deliver grain to the mill, flour and milk to the baker, and pies to a nearby city or the mall. And this is by far the easiest production chain. Those transport routes along with waste disposal and public transportation results profit that you can then use to expand your business or the city.
Moreover you also have to keep in mind a variety of ratings to reach your goals. Population of your city will only increase if the environmental rating is in the plus (forest and fountains are good, industrial buildings are very bad), people have to be taken to office buildings by buses to increase the job rating, and visitors have to be taken to hotels to increase the visitors (=tourist) rating. Furthermore you also have to increase town happiness by building bus stops in the reach of houses and entertainment buildings (such as theater, mall, or fitness club) to keep inhabitants busy and satisfied.
Of course all buildings and vehicles can be upgraded to become more eco-friendly, produce more goods or to house more inhabitants. Depending on your performance you will receive points that can be spent at the R&D Labs, in which you can unlock new buildings or upgrades for buildings you are already able to construct. Additionally you are also responsible for fire departments, hospitals, waste disposal and other measurements to avoid (or clean up after) various disasters.
Virtual City 2: Paradise Resort features very clear and bright graphics, after some time streets will be filled by your vehicles (unfortunately not by cars from citizens, which would have added to the atmosphere), children are playing in the garden, people are waiting at bus stops, and depending on the state you are currently playing the weather and scenery change (Yes, there is animated snow, rain and thunder). Apart from the high production values the core gameplay is nearly flawless, too. The tutorial is sufficient, the interface is kept as easy as possible with such a deep game and the missions and goals highly vary in scope and challenge.
The greatest weakness of Virtual City 2: Paradise Resort is the missed opportunity to let players adjust and pause the speed of time. This, along with some vague ratings indicators and the potential to frustrate in some levels, are the only aspects that keep the game from being a flawless 5-star entry. To speed up time when you need money and to pause when things get busy and complicated would have been the icing on the cake.
However, all in all Virtual City 2: Paradise Resort is exactly what a sequel should be – a display of the strengths of its predecessor, but at the same time showing improvement and exciting tweaks where they are needed. Fans from the first part will fall in love again, and newcomers will surely find themselves addicted pretty quickly after getting into it. This is without a doubt one of the most unique, long-lasting and addicting casual games of this year.