Six years on and Restaurant Empire 2 graces our PC’s with its presence, allowing amateur Jamie Olivers and Gordon Ramseys the chance to build their own culinary empire.The game was developed by Enlight Software and published by Iceberg Interactive.
In Restaurant Empire 1, the player was given control of a young Armand Lebouf, fresh out of culinary school. On visiting his uncle Michel in Paris, he discovers that his uncles restaurant has been forced out of business by the Omnifood Corporation. Michel, enjoying his retirement too much, hands the keys to the Treize A Table to Armand. With some helpful advice from his uncle, Armand must first make a success of the famed Brasserie before opening new establishments, whilst beating back the evil corporation.
In part 2, we see that Armand has made a success of the business, found love and got married. Returning from their honeymoon, Armand’s new wife Delia wants to open her own traditional cafe, serving teas, coffees and snacks. It is your job to balance running the restaurants and Armands new celebrity chef career, whilst keeping the marriage together.
It is important to point out that pretty much all of the tutorials are in the first campaign, so try to master that one first. This is a simulation game on an epic scale. Almost everything is micromanaged, from decor, seating arrangements and staff through to the recipes, advertising and quality of ingredients. This makes for a lot of work, especially later in the game when you are dealing with more than one establishment. As you play through the game more and more choices will become available to you. Customers will offer to sell you new recipes and new chefs will become available that will bring their own dishes to your restaurants.
The game will offer a number of objectives to complete. These are usually quite stright forward, such as reaching a certain profit, or a certain percentage of complaints. There are the occasional cut scenes that move the story along and there are mini games to break the monotony, such as the puzzle game that represents Armand’s TV career.
The game itself is very unforgiving. Trying to keep all of the customers happy, and indeed make them visit your establishments in the first place, can be very frustrating. Everything you do affects the customers, from which pictures you hang on the wall, placement of the tables, which waiters you hire, food you serve, ingredients you use, even how far the table is from the kitchen. And the staff are not that bright either, constantly bumping into each other or the customers.Your options are limited to start with, but as you progress you have access to items that can improve your staff morale and the restaurant as a whole. However, these items are often incredibly over priced and beyond reach. The storyline is essential for the progression of the game, but could easily be ignored as it offers no real benefit to the player. The minigames are frankly a waste of time and you find yourself wishing they would end and you could return to your restaurant. At the end of the day, strip away the story and minigames and you are left with a detailed, sometimes frustrating but enjoyable restaurant simulator.
Graphically the game looks exactly the same as the original, and the original looked dated at the time. It is very similar to the original Sims game, for those with long memories. Also, this time around, there are far less voice overs, with the audio experience mostly given over to whimsical tunes that would be at home in most restaurants.
Overall this is a very good restaurant simulator, but the experience left me feeling something was missing. I am sure there are people who will enjoy this game, but I personally found the game to be far too involved. If you are looking for a training tool for running your own restaurant, then this game could well give you some insight into the uphill struggle on which you are about to embark. I score this game 6.5 out of 10.
This game was provided for review by Gamersgate