Developer: Eidos Interactive
Played on: PC
Also called Virtual Resort: Spring Break in the US, Beach Life is a simulation game where I get to run a beach resort. Why not a beach resort? If I can’t go to an expensive beach resort in Bermuda, I may as well run one, right? Kinda like how I can’t afford gourmet food but I can slave away at the kitchens, I suppose. Life simulation games must be the biggest mode of vicarious capitalism today.
There are two modes of gameplay here. The primary gameplay is one where I have to run twelve different resorts (one at a time, naturally) at beaches, each mission becoming harder and harder in difficulty. In the beginner mission, for example, all I need to do is to build all the buildings that aren’t already there at the resort and I’m done. But later on, I will have to save the swimmers and surfers from sharks, bring in enough women guests (as opposed to ordering them from illegal sources, naturally) to please the male-heavy resort clientele, and even trying to overcome beer shortage problems. Like nearly every other simulation games out there, I have to hire cleaners to pick up the trash and clean the toilets, builders to construct buildings, mechanics to fix them (when the level of difficulty increases into the game, it seems that everything is breaking down every other minute – annoying indeed), and lifeguards (in red, naturally) to save the idiot guests from drowning or from sharks. At later levels, security guards will be available to prevent vandalism and representatives to interact with the guests and promote resort propaganda to increase the popularity of my resort.
The buildings lack variety and character, which is my biggest complain of this game. At early levels, there are basic dining, entertainment, and accommodation establishments but at later levels, the “new” buildings that are unlocked are merely different versions of these buildings. There are some variety in the entertainment options, with the likes of the casino, fun pool, and jacuzzi unlocked at later levels, but the pools are pools and the discos are discos, if you know what I mean. The guests interact with these buildings by walking in and out the door or swimming/dancing like spastic french fries. The most animation comes from the restaurant, with waiters moving around serving the guests. I can click on each guest to read their thoughts on things but eventually everything becomes repetitious and I can’t be bothered anymore.
Because there is a distinct lack of variety in buildings, I don’t have this “I must keep playing to see what other thrilling things that will be unlocked!” enthusiasm. There are twelve missions but all of these missions become dull and repetitious after a while. I start the game the same way, I look at the same buildings, I face the same problems, and I only have to modify a little of the gameplay here and there to accommodate each quest.
Unless I use cheat (such as pressing Alt and Shift and 4 together to increase the amount of money I have), the game is pretty tough to complete because as the game progresses, I have so much things juggling for my attention. The buildings need repair, guests are complaining, the staff threaten to quit, litterbugs are everywhere, there isn’t enough beer, and aaargh, sharks, wah wah wah. The guests will also complain if I don’t waste money I should be using on lifeguard towers on scenery. Stress and boredom aren’t good. If I want that, I won’t be playing games, I’d be working at McDonald’s.
The other mode of gameplay is the Sandbox mode, where I can start a resort from scratch and just play with it without any specific quests being shoved down my throat. The catch here is that if I want to go beyond the available beginner quest beaches, I must complete the quests in the previous mode first. That is, unless I cheat and press Shift, Alt, and U buttons at the same time and have all the beaches available for me to plunder. This mode of gameplay is even more boring than the missions because every beach plays nearly the same way, barring a shark attack or two.
The music, by the way, can be fantastic, since there is a list of tracks I can select to play the game to. The music sounds like Casio gone Ibiza and has more character than the gameplay itself.
I like simulation games with plenty of wacky sounds and wackier buildings and characters, so Beach Life may be geared for players who like more realism in their simulation games. Maybe I’m the wrong target for this game because after a few days of playing this game, I realize that I have the best time playing from watching my resort guests being eaten up by sharks.