Spring Break

Spring Break

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 2/6/2003 for PC  

It’s very hard to review a game like Spring Break. After playing copious amounts of top-tier titles like Simcity 4 and Tropico, one can’t help but be a bit jaded, and while I wasn’t expecting this budget-title to compete with the big boys, I was at least expecting more than your average run-of-the-mill budget strategy title.

As the namesake implies, the game allows you to build and maintain a Spring Break locale. While it can be classified as a micromanagement sim, it’s actually quite misleading. The entire game has a generic and utterly cookie-cutter feel to it, leading to a game that’s not only repetitive, but ultimately dull and boring.

Things here are very simple and uncomplicated, making the game readily accessible to even the most inexperienced gamers. What you have is simple, try to turn a rundown, bland and barren island into a college co-ed paradise by any means possible. Are your guests upset? Put in a beer stand. Are they bored? Build an auditorium so that you can host wet T-shirt contests. These are the types of hard-hitting dilemmas that you will have to deal with.

In a lot of ways this game reminds me of Tropico in that you will require a work force to build and maintain your structures. Each building is constructed by a physical character, the more you have the faster the structure builds. This leads to an interesting strategic element in that the commissioning of too many buildings at a time will spread your men too thin, significantly increasing the building times. In an interesting bit of micromanagement you’ll have to manually set your employees’ hours. This means that you’ll need to hire a decent number of staff members just to keep things running, especially in the night hours. If you don’t allot cleaners for the night time then your resort will become overrun with trash, causing disgust and loathing amongst your guests.

Technically there’s nothing wrong with the gameplay, it’s just that it seems like something straight out of 1999. There isn’t much variety in the structures as you’ll be able to build things like “restaurant 1” and “restaurant 2.” There are some nice touches like an in-game snapshot feature that mimics an Olympus camera, but they’re far and few between. There’s little satisfaction that comes from saving up your cash and finally buying that Party Boat, only to find out that it’s basically the same thing as the “theme club 1” and the “theme club 2.”

The scenery isn’t all that great either. There’s only one type of path that you can build for your guests to travel on. Everything else just looks like random clutter, bushes, shrubbery, plants, everything with the exception of the palm trees look dull and plain. What’s even worse is the layout of the buildings. Like most other micromanagement sims the game relies on the tile system for the placing of structures and objects. The buildings are often oddly shaped, causing you to waste much more space then necessary. Water structures are poorly implemented as well, especially in respect to the layout of the island. Often times you’ll get buildings that can’t be placed because the beach is shaped incorrectly for the piers, with the beach going one angle and the structures going another angle. Basically this makes the game pretty frustrating and even more so, lending the game an unpolished feel.
You’ll hit the proverbial wall with this game pretty quickly. I’d say that the game’s entertainment peaks at about 4 hours where it falls into a steep decline afterwards. The scenarios are all entirely too similar and while they all feature different goals and objectives, you’ll usually find yourself tackling them in exactly the same fashion. Often times I didn’t even know that I had accomplished the goals and usually, I was completely unaware of what my goals were. I just sort of played the game and then haphazardly wandered my way in to the objectives.

Speaking of haphazard, the visuals in this game definitely aren’t a sight for sore eyes. I’d say that they’re a notch below Rollercoaster Tycoon, maybe even lower. The buildings and sprite-based characters look okay from a distance but are just absolutely atrocious on the closest zoom level. What’s more baffling is that while structures can be rotated before being placed, you can’t change your vantage point on the island. You’ll be stuck in the starting viewpoint, giving the game a decidedly 2D feel. Not surprising for a game this shallow.

The audio in this game is pretty weak and while there is support for 3D hardware, it won’t get much usage. The effects range from tolerable to just downright annoying. Some effects like the deep hum of the power stations are just horrible, enough so to cause me to cringe everytime that the structure came in to my viewpoint. The guests don’t speak coherent English but instead, a bastardization of the “sim speak” that’s all the rage in the Sims that’s not as catchy or appealing. The music isn’t bad if you enjoy island tunes and as a nice touch, you can use your own MP3s if you please.

The real problem with this game is the lasting appeal. It grows tiresome and wearisome far too quickly. I’ve always wanted to create my own Spring Break paradise but after playing Eidos’ take on the matter, I think I’ll push those dreams aside for the time being and focus my energy towards rollercoaster building and big city management.
I always wanted to play a game that featured a wet T-shirt contest but this isn't the way to do it. With the exception of a few well-placed advertisements, the game is bland and all too generic.

Rating: 6.6 Mediocre

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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