The Restaurant

Review

posted 12/19/2003 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PC
From the ages of 12 to 17, I worked at my parent’s restaurant. I can’t say it was a fun experience and it certainly turned me off of food services. Yet, it didn’t stop me from trying out Enlight’s restaurant simulator, The Restaurant. The food service tycoon game was intriguing and I happily took up the invitation to try out the game.

The Restaurant was originally titled Restaurant Empire. The change was due to being able to secure a license to put Rocco Dispirito on the cover and renaming the game to the title of the show. Other than the name change, Rocco doesn’t appear in the game anywhere and it’s really just there for marketing purposes. So if you’re a fan of the show and hoping to be Rocco or manage one of his restaurants, you’ll be disappointed. I hope the license does help it get some more sales to this game cause The Restaurant is actually a fun tycoon game.

There are two modes to The Restaurant: sandbox and campaign. The sandbox mode just lets you run a restaurant without any goals or end. So instead of covering that, I’ll delve more into the campaign mode as it will cover both areas. As Armand LeBoeuf, you’re straight out of culinary school and looking to succeed in the restaurant business. Visiting your uncle, you find out he’s given up his restaurant and that it’s been closed for a year or so now because of a corporation trying to monopolize the business driving out other local businesses. You convince your uncle to let you re-open the restaurant and if you meet a few goals, the restaurant is yours. So you are asked to jump in and manage the restaurant from the finances to hiring staff to cooking the cuisine. You’ll even be asked to decorate the restaurant inside and out. The game gives you plenty of areas to tinker with and try and run a successful business.

The game’s graphics are nothing that will dazzle you. While fully 3D, the characters are Sims like in appearance. Graphically, the game does look dated and it’s definitely not a game to show your system off. The dishes are also very low on polygon count giving the food a very blocky look. Animations for the characters feature a nice variety of movements and you can see some emotions in the characters by how they move and interact. The modeling of the restaurant interior is passable with the items having average texture quality and the furniture also being passable. You can zoom in and out and also rotate the camera to get a better view on the action. There’s even an option to follow a patron or worker in a close up third person mode. Many other tycoon like games do look better though but the look of The Restaurant does serve its purpose.

As with most tycoon games, you start out small and work your way up. You won’t have much money, skills, or skilled labor but you’ll slowly build up a good quality restaurant with some great food. You’ll train yourself in three different cooking styles and I was surprised that a few other types weren’t included but it does open up for an expansion disk in the future. Pick your food, tweak the recipes, set the price and serve it up. You have a good control over the quality of ingredients and the price of the items on the menu. The balance between the quality of your restaurant and the food at the beginning is critical in trying to maximize your profit. A good variety of food is also needed. You don’t want to have a restaurant with only a few choices or your customers won’t be happy with the selection. The décor of the restaurant is also important as providing a comfortable atmosphere, quality furniture, and seating arrangement also determines how well your restaurant does. Placing objects is easy and you’re giving some visual color cues to show you where you can or cannot place an item and the room needed for the item to fit. Rotation of the object allows you to fine tune how you want the item to look. One nice feature is that you can manipulate objects on single, similar, or all item aspect. Say you want to place a certain flower on all tables. You don’t have to go to each table to do it and you can easily dictate the item to be placed on all tables, saving time.
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