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Theme Hospital

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:

GAME DEVELOPER:Bullfrog

GAME PUBLISHER:Electronic Arts

Copyright 1997, Bullfrog

Theme Hospital is a highly original game that unfortunately sports too many monotonous levels and too easy gameplay to sustain long-term play value. As the name suggests, game puts you in charge of a hospital, and your job is to cure a given number of patients before your hospital goes broke, or overtaken by armies of angry, sick people. Meet the winning conditions for each map, and you will be go to the next map, where you must build a new hospital from scratch to meet more challenging goals than the last. The game’s highlight is definitely the diseases, which, similar to the sins in LucasArts’ Afterlife, are imaginative and all very funny. Ailments range from the mundane, such as baldness (ouch), bloaty head and bone fracture, to the more exotic such as radiation, invisibility and slack tongue. Most diseases require its own treatment/operating room, so you must observe the clients’ pattern and plan the hospital layout carefully to ensure that every patient can get to the reception area, then to diagnosis area, then to appropriate treatment room in a straight a line as possible. Similar to Theme Park, as you expand your hospital you can buy up adjacent plots to use. Watching the patients roam the hospital from room to room is very enjoyable– especially since you can zoom in to each patient (like all Bullfrog games) to learn their name and condition.

Unfortunately, Theme Hospital is simply too easy for all but the most inexperienced gamers. It is very hard to lose a level, unless you overspend ridiculously, and even then you can usually recover, with time. You can win easily by agreeing to all pay raise requests to keep the best staff, and doing the research regularly. One of the few things that *can* make you lose a level is the epidemic, which occur on later levels. Epidemic requires you to frantically scan your hospital for patients with contagious markers on them, vaccinating them, and curing them before the health inspector arrives. lest you take a financial hit and a reputation loss. There is also an emergency situation, similar to the special delivery of Railroad Tycoon: if you choose to accept one, you get a helicopter full of sick patients who must all be treated in a time limit for a cash bonus. These events, along with the earthquake, does add some adrenaline rush to an otherwise staid game, but gameplay is overall very repetitive, and easy. After the first 7-8 levels or so, you’ll have seen all you can in the game, and from then on it’s just a matter of using the same strategy over and over. The “random hospital” option similar to Sim City would have made the game much better. As it stands, Theme Hospital is still highly recommended for its quirky, original gameplay, but don’t expect this to replace Civilization from the permanent slot on your hard drive. Two thumbs up!



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