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Two Point Campus Review – Old School

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There’s a familiarity and comfort to Two Point Campus’ early hours, from the whimsical claymation style of its characters to its distinctly British humor and jaunty music. It might trade doctors and patients for teachers and students, but if you played Two Point Hospital, you’ll feel right at home in Two Point Studios’ latest business management sim.

As the hours roll by and you graduate to different college campuses, however, Two Point Campus begins to carve out an identity that’s all its own. Two Point Hospital was a relatively safe spiritual successor to Theme Hospital, essentially recreating the ’90s classic with modern technology and amenities. Two Point Campus maintains that same reverence for its roots, but it also embraces its fresh new setting in a way that captures more of the magic that made Theme Hospital so beloved.

You take on the role of a campus administrator, charged with building and maintaining various schools throughout Two Point County. This means you’ll be managing both the micro and macro aspects of your college empire, whether you’re designing the internal and external layout of each building, hiring staff, or researching new technologies to improve various facets of your school. All of this is in service of keeping your students happy and ensuring they’re given the tools they need to not only graduate with good grades, but also enjoy themselves and learn a few lessons about life along the way.

Meeting your students’ wants and needs is an integral part of Two Point Campus. In Two Point Hospital, your job was to make sure patients were in a good-enough mood to stick around long enough to be treated. Now, you’re not just dealing with people for a brief hospital stay, but being given three academic years to shape a student’s future, watch them grow, and hopefully, see them flourish. Basic needs like food and drink, hygiene, and establishing a comfortable temperature are all important, but there’s more nuance to their happiness as well.

Early on, you’re told you need to fulfill the three Rs: relaxation, rest, and relief. You can build dormitories to give your charges a place to sleep and recharge; a student union to provide them with entertainment and a space to relax in; libraries so they have access to learning resources and an area where they can study; and private tutoring so those struggling can get some crucial one-on-one time with a teacher. There are also items that will help foster friendships and romance, or make your campus a more appealing place to live. Students will use benches to sit and converse, building bonds that boost their happiness. Stick a few arcade games in the student lounge and they’ll play against each other, while best friends might blow the love trumpet.

It’s heartwarming stuff, and all of these interlocking systems have a noticeable impact on student performance. Better grades mean more money and prestige for the school, so everything cycles back to a grading system you have a tangible effect on. Balancing the positives and negatives of each item and activity is key. Throwing parties is an easy way to quickly boost happiness, for instance, but you don’t want to overdo it and hamper your student’s studying. Filling the corridors of your campus with vending machines is a simple way to satiate your students’ thirst and hunger, but these options aren’t the healthiest and will send their hygiene tumbling. You can rectify this with food kiosks, yet these require a member of staff to manage, so you need enough of a cash flow coming in to pay their wages.

Lots of colorful graphs, floor charts, and visualizers make it relatively easy to keep on top of things and figure out why students might be unhappy in a particular area or struggling to improve their grades. It never feels overwhelming, either, since Two Point Campus does an excellent job of easing you into its various mechanics with a gradual progression system. You begin your career at Freshleigh Meadows, a modest school with a scientific focus. Here, you’re introduced to the basics and learn how to use the game’s intuitive tools to build rooms and place furnishings, all while getting an idea of the type of digs each college needs–such as staff rooms, lecture rooms, toilets, and so on.

Two Point Campus maintains reverence for its roots, but it also embraces its fresh new setting in a way that captures more of the magic that made Theme Hospital so beloved

Numerous objectives keep you focused on completing specific tasks–whether you’re asked to achieve a certain number of A grades or exceed 70% student happiness–and each one that’s ticked off edges your campus closer to becoming a coveted three-star college. This, in turn, unlocks more schools for you to manage, with every subsequent campus growing in both size and complexity. Each one introduces new concepts, giving you an environment to grasp how particular mechanics work before you step foot in the latter schools and enter full plate spinning territory.

There are a few too many instances in the early hours of the game where you have nothing to do except sit around and wait for progress bars to finish, and the fast-forward function never feels quite fast enough to alleviate the delay. Thankfully, this is the only drawback to Two Point Campus’ steady onboarding approach. Before long, you’ll be researching ways to improve all of your educational materials and training your staff so that their teaching is more effective or your janitors are able to more efficiently fix broken air conditioning units and toilets. You’ll be buying up additional real estate to construct new buildings and fill them with more classrooms and extracurricular activities, or introducing student clubs that provide members with unique abilities. The book club nerds will receive a bonus to their learning speed, for example, while those in the napping club can get some extra shut-eye in the corridors to regain energy.

When it comes to classes, Two Point Campus adopts the eccentric style of its predecessor’s illnesses–if not in concept, then at least in visual design. Giant steaming cauldrons sit in the middle of classrooms cooking enormous burgers and cakes; students use 3D printers to construct towering robots; while the field outside plays host to a sport that revolves around throwing cheese past a goalkeeper wielding a grater. Each campus specializes in a specific class, from scientography and gastronomy to spy school and wizardry, but you can introduce other courses to any campus, perhaps mixing knight and clown school together to bring all of the costumed students together in one place. Some of the other courses provide benefits, too, like music students being able to put on gigs in the student union, cutting down on the cost it usually takes to hire a performer.

Or you can simply hone your attention on each specialty, using course points to upgrade classes, thus bringing in more students and increasing the chances of them earning top grades. Doing so requires more classrooms and space to study, but the summer break in between academic years gives you welcome space to build and make tweaks before students return. This also presents decisions for you to ponder in regards to how your campus is constructed. Bigger rooms allow for more furnishings, increasing that room’s prestige and making staff and students happier when using it. But you’re always working with a finite amount of space. You can build smaller, less effective rooms, but cover a wider range of modules, adding some important decision-making to the moment-to-moment gameplay of expanding your school. Crucially, Two Point Campus also adds the option to construct your own buildings, giving you more options and lending a personal touch to your campus.

Developing the exterior is crucial, too, since you can spruce up your college’s attractiveness, whether you’re placing down trees, fountains, or colorful gardens. The tools at your disposal are also robust enough that you can agonize over the spacing between vending machines and bookshelves, losing hours at a time to simply furnishing your college with all manner of trimmings. There are aforementioned gameplay perks to decking out each room since staff and students will perform better in attractive settings, but it’s also just fun to add detail to the grand and finer parts of your college.

One area where Two Point Campus falters is in the minor grind that accompanies the start of each new school. You can save templates of any room you’ve built, which does alleviate this somewhat, but having to build the same dormitories, lecture rooms, and bathrooms over and over again becomes a bit of a chore. It doesn’t take long to do, but it does present a barrier you’ll want to rush through to reach the new content each campus introduces.

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I also ran into a couple of other issues, although it’s not entirely clear if these were glitches or underlying issues with the way the game presents information. I had a few instances where teachers would refuse to teach a class with no clear reason why, opting instead to roam the corridors endlessly looking for work. Trying to figure out how to achieve certain goals can also be difficult because of how overly vague some aspects are. At one point I was tasked with keeping my students’ average hygiene above 75%, but all of the toilets, showers, trash cans, hand sanitizer, and janitors in the world couldn’t stop that percentage from plummeting. There is a hygiene visualizer, but this just showed me which toilets and beds needed attention from a janitor. In the end, I only managed to complete the objective because most of the students left during the summer, so maybe college attendees are just a smelly bunch.

These issues aside, Two Point Campus is a marked improvement on Two Point Hospital. The college setting makes for a more personable and heartfelt game, where partying, romance, and forming friendships is just as important as attending classes and studying. A plethora of interlocking systems brings it all together and digs deep into the management side of the equation without ever feeling overwhelming. The gradual stream of new concepts makes starting up at a new school exciting, and additional building tools mean there’s more customization at your fingertips than ever before. It maintains the series’ charm and wit, too, with some biting satire to boot, and ensures that Two Point Campus graduates with flying colors.

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