They say that the key to running a successful restaurant is to be hands-on. And that’s certainly true in Restaurant City. The restaurant management game rewards players for being dedicated and returning to the game on a regular basis, making it a perfect fit for Facebook. But while the core mechanics are fairly simple, the game quickly becomes very addictive, something which is aided by some terrific production values and great social networking features.
You start out the game with a small restaurant and just a few staff members. You’ll then assign jobs to your employees, and the key is to find the right balance between chefs and servers. Too few of either and your customers won’t be served in a timely fashion, and will instead leave without paying their bill. You’ll also have to keep your employees happy, which is done by feeding them. Each employee has a timer, with a maximum of four hours, and as soon as it runs out, they will pass out and stop working. Feeding them refills this meter. This mechanic makes coming back and feeding your staff central to the gameplay, since, if you don’t return every four hours, your restaurant will simply shut down until you come back.
As you progress you’ll earn experience and at specified intervals your restaurant will level up. This lets you hire more employees, expand the size of your establishment, and, of course, earns you more money. Money is necessary for not only keeping your staff fed and happy, but also for decorating your restaurant. The sheer number of decorating options is pretty astounding, giving you plenty of opportunity to customize your restaurant however you like. Some items are purely decorative, while others, like toilets, tables, and chairs, are necessary in order to have a smoothly running eatery.
You can also use your hard earned cash to buy ingredients, which you’ll need to upgrade your menu. Ingredients can either be bought at the market, traded with friends, or grown in your very own garden. Once you have all the right ingredients, you can learn new dishes. The number of dishes you can offer increases as your restaurant levels up, and you can also improve dishes so that you earn more money from them.
Restaurant City frequently has limited-time offers, usually based around a current holiday or theme. For example, over Christmas you might be able to learn how to make egg nog or display a Christmas tree in your restaurant. Since these are only available for a short period of time, it creates a lot of incentive to hurry up and earn the money or gather the ingredients necessary to acquire these items.
The game also includes some great social features. Each one of your employees is given the name and likeness of someone from your friends list, and, if you want to earn some extra cash, you can help out at a friend’s restaurant. You can clean up the place by shooing away pesky sleeping bears and fish stealing penguins, or even by putting out the occasional fire. Trading items with friends is also almost mandatory, as it’s one of the best ways to get new ingredients. There’s also an element of competition, as the game ranks all of your friends in terms of experience level, providing much incentive to get your establishment to the top of the ladder.
Restaurant City doesn’t feature ads, though you can spend some real money if you want to fast-track. There are two kinds of currency in the game: regular coins and Playfish cash. The coins are used for purchasing pretty much everything, while PF cash is only used for certain “special” items. Both can be purchased using a variety of payment methods, including PayPal, credit card, and Facebook credits. But while coins can also be earned as you play, PF cash can only be purchased with real-world money.
Unlike most games on the platform, Restaurant City both looks and plays great. It sports delightful and colorful cartoon style visuals, and the sheer number of things you can do is impressive. But since much of it is optional, it makes the game much more enjoyable in quick play sessions, making it a perfect example of a how games can work on Facebook.