Restaurant Empire 2 PC
Published by: Paradox Interactive
Developed by: Enlight
A restaurateur simulation, Restaurant Empire put you in the shoes of Armand LeBoeuf and enabled you to play out his virtual career from a practically unknown chef, who is allowed the use of his famous uncle's restaurant, through to becoming a famous chef in his own right. On his path to greatness, Armand managed to overthrow the OmniFood conglomerate who were threatening to put all of the restaurants and bistros out of business. The game played similarly to Hotel Giant, a game from the same developer, but in many ways it felt like a more focused game. Despite some irritating bugs upon its release the game was enjoyable and it's no surprise that a sequel has eventually surfaced. In some respects however it doesn't feel like a true sequel and feels more like Restaurant Empire 1.5.
Restaurant Empire 2 features the campaign from the original game and a new 16-mission campaign that picks up the storyline. Armand is now married and his new wife, Delia, is tired of all the sterile coffee shops that are now found in Paris and wants to open a traditional Parisian coffee shop. Armand agrees to come up with the cash and Delia finds herself with a coffee shop. It's your job to get it into shape. In addition to the new campaign and the original one from the first Restaurant Empire game, there is also a Sandbox mode which allows you to open a restaurant, coffee or dessert shop in Rome, Paris, Los Angeles or Munich.
There's a lot to micromanage in Restaurant Empire 2 and if you're new to the series you are strongly advised to play through the original campaign first. Jumping into the new campaign will be a bewildering experience as you're not only expected to run Delia's coffee and dessert shops but Armand's restaurants too. The tutorial messages in the new campaign aren't sufficient to get you up to speed if you haven't played the original campaign before. There's a lot to get your head around. You'll get to design the interiors of your restaurants, coffee and dessert shops, create a good menu for your customers, hire staff (and their quality and experience is of great importance), experiment with new recipes and the quality of the ingredients, have to deal with awkward customers and many other things too. Of course with multiple establishments to control, it can certainly be a bit of a handful at times although the difficulty level never really becomes uncomfortable.
All things considered, Restaurant Empire 2 is a solid game but it disappoints in a few ways. The addition of coffee and dessert shops, an additional city, Munich, German cuisine and additional items to customise your establishments with are definitely nice touches but they don't do enough to make this truly feel like a sequel because at its core, it's pretty much the same experience. Given that it's been several years since the first game, you'd be forgiven for expecting much more than what's on offer here because half of it isn't new at all and even the new campaign isn't offering anything wildly different. In fact the new campaign could have been released as a low price expansion.
Graphically the game is very disappointing. It appears that no graphical improvements have been made in this sequel and the graphics look extremely dated. By today's standards then, Restaurant Empire 2 is an ugly looking game but the one advantage of this is that you're not going to need a high specification PC game to have the game running with the maximum graphical settings enabled. Most will be disappointed that no visual improvements have been made however.
There are no problems here for deaf gamers. The original campaign does feature some speech in some of the cutscenes and the tutorial but it's all subtitled. Most of the dialogue in the first campaign and indeed in all of the second campaign is text only and you can read the text in your own time so there are no problems. The game provides clear visual feedback when you're placing objects in your coffee shops and restaurants making the whole process a straightforward affair. You're also provided with some useful text hints to help you make sure you've carried out the essential actions when setting up your establishments.
If you really enjoyed what Restaurant Empire had to offer and like the idea of playing through another campaign then Restaurant Empire 2 will certainly be worth a purchase. You're going to be disappointed if you're expecting better graphics or significant improvements however. What you are getting is a game that has slightly more depth and requires even more micromanagement than the first game. Those who haven't played the first game will definitely get more value out of the package as they will have two campaigns to experience. On the whole though I'm slightly disappointed with the game. It certainly doesn't feel like a true sequel. In fact I think it would have been more appropriate to have called it Restaurant Empire: Gold Edition because it feels like the original game with an expansion pack thrown in for good measure.