If you’ve ever had the insatiable urge to run your own college campus full of scientists, clowns, or even medieval knights, Two Point Campus finally grants you the ability. In typical management simulation fashion, you are the omnipotent being reining over various campuses and determining the fate of hundreds of students.
While this may seem like a lot of pressure – keeping everyone happy and students’ grades high – Two Point Campus strikes a perfect balance; it’s easy to pick up and play, while incredibly difficult to master. Anyone familiar with the predecessor, Two Point Hospital, will know that the lucrative three-star rating is hard to come by, but it’s so rewarding when you do finally reach that milestone.
In his preview, assistant editor Alex Donaldson argued that Two Point Hospital is a worthy successor to an all-time great; the all-time great being Theme Hospital. While I’d love to agree, I never played Bullfrog’s classic. In fact, I don’t like hospitals much at all, and even Two Point Hospital – despite all of its charm – felt incredibly lost on me. However, Two Point Campus has now strutted along and opened its doors, and I’ve finally been able to appreciate these games for what they’re worth.
There’s something about running a university campus that feels especially zealous; Two Point Campus doesn’t take itself too seriously, but remains incredibly energetic and captures the college experience in a rather whimsical way. Don’t get me wrong, I never experienced the medical condition of Pumpkin Head while at university myself. This is one of the many afflictions students may come down with while running your fourth campus of witches and wizards. However, I did experience the constant displeasure that half my students seemed to face.
While I was often annoyed by the fact my students would still be thirsty or bursting for the loo despite both drinks machines and toilet cubicles being within five tiles of them, I found this – whether intentional or not – somewhat true to the university experience. I don’t know about my fellow graduates, but university life felt like an absolute barrage of complaining about things that just didn’t need to be complained about. I felt like my college of Two Point Campus students was almost mocking me when, somehow, hosting Student Union parties at every opportunity left my campus worse for wear.
Two Point Campus certainly knows this, too, and as the radio blares while you build new rooms, you’d think that the devs have taken a class or two in Funny Business themselves. When students aren’t getting themselves into predicaments and janitors aren’t having finger-gun fights, the student radio accompanies you with all matter of jokes and skits. In addition, a visualisation feature allows you to view your campus through various lenses, such as thermal comfort and attractiveness, and spurred me on to constantly keep perfecting my campus where possible. Now, if only my radio DJs would stop openly admitting to littering on campus…
What mainly tarnished my opinion of Two Point Hospital was how bland it felt; my hospitals didn’t feel all that unique, the colour scheme certainly stayed true to a real hospital, and having to Prestige my rooms with the same few decorations made every room look the same. Even as I ventured further and unlocked more items, Two Point Hospital failed to capture me: I could never craft a hospital that I felt happy with, even if my patients were pleased.
Two Point Campus, on the other hand, brings in everything that I’d missed. The changes are simple, but make a world of difference to just how vibrant and enjoyable the simulation game is. What pleasantly surprised me the most is that there are customisation options galore; I can do something as drastic as changing the architectural layout of my buildings, or something as little as providing different coloured bedsheets to my students, and every subject/class comes with its own items, so I could make every classroom stand out. No longer does every building or room look the same, and I’m genuinely excited to see what unique campuses players will build while being given this level of freedom.
Another delicate difference between Two Point Campus and its predecessor is where your profit comes from, and how your success is measured. No longer am I overcharging hospital patients in dire need of quality care, but I am instead gaining profit from providing a good education. The lack of comical misanthropy isn’t gone completely, though, as there are still staff members to make miserable (if you so desire), and students aren’t exactly difficult to displease! That said, most of your money goes towards staff wages, and most of your profits come from simply running a campus that’s a positive place to be; high grades mean more cash to line your pockets with, and failing that, you can always take out a loan.
Students in particular feel more developed, too. Compared to that of Two Point Hospital’s patients who come and go, your students will (hopefully) be sticking with you for three years. In that time, you can help them to forge friendships, join clubs (like my personal favourite, the Power Napping Club), and watch them as they go about their classes or party recklessly. Or both. As you wait for time to pass between research projects or school years, you’ll never find yourself twiddling your thumbs; there’s always someone interesting to loom over and watch.
Don’t fear that your campus may be too perfect, too quickly. That three-star rating is still troublesome to acquire, and Two Point Campus will still continue to throw spanners in the works when it can. Running a campus, especially in Two Point County, should never be plain sailing. As the game develops, you learn more about training staff, providing private tuition to students, and even delivering pastoral or medical care to them all. Ultimately, you end up with a lot to consider, and that’s the only area where Two Point Campus falls short.
As you progress into later stages of the game and even take on your own Cheeseball campus (yeah, you heard me… it’s football but with cheese), you’ll find that building the same rooms and fulfilling the same goals over and over again can become repetitive. Fortunately, this particular bit of monotony kicks in far enough into the game for me to overlook it, and the ability to build an enriching campus after completing your first few goals of the academic year certainly overshadows the dull moments. If that doesn’t, then Two Point County’s radio station certainly does its best to keep you entertained during the academic year’s quieter moments, with zany British humour that I certainly could appreciate.
On the whole, Two Point Campus lets your most fantastical dreams come true. Whether that’s a campus of dysfunctional wizards or accomplished chefs, Two Point has learnt a lot from its prior endeavours and applied its knowledge to make what is one of the most attractive and witty simulation titles out there. Whether you’ve only the time to commit to Two Point Campus for a mere few hours or many months, you’re set for your own education on academic absurdity.