Spring Break


posted 2/6/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: 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.
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