Product Type: Electronic Arts Playstation games
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If only all hospitals were this much fun
Theme Hospital (PS)
Member Name: madav2000uk
Theme Hospital (PS)
Date: 19/02/10, updated on 19/02/10 (49 review reads)
Advantages: Quirky humour
Disadvantages: Later levels can be quite challenging
Hands up everyone who has ever dreamed of managing their own hospital. I imagine not many of us, which may be why Theme Hospital was never as popular as its predecessor, Theme Park. Which is a shame, because I think Theme Hospital is the better of the two games. As with Theme Park, the concept is simple. Each stage sees you managing a brand new hospital. To progress to the next stage you must fulfil a series of requirements, such as cure a certain number of patients and make a certain amount of money.
What sets the game apart from Theme Park is its humour. The illnesses your patients arrive with are just plain hilarious, as are the methods devised to treat them. Patient has a swollen head? Simply pop it and then inflate it to a normal size. Patient has a long, flaccid tongue? Simply put it through a mangle and then chop most of it off. As with real hospitals, if you don't treat your patients sufficiently quickly then they will die and this is perhaps the biggest weakness of the game. Despite their comic illnesses, you never really feel enamoured to your patients, so if one of them does die it's simply a case of shrug it off and move on to the next person.
The way you run the hospital will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played Theme Park. You first have to build machines to research illnesses and cure patients. Over time these machines will degrade and so you need to hire mechanics to constantly tune them up. Next, no hospital would be complete without doctors and nurses, so you need to hire a few. The amount you have to pay them depends on their level of competence and motivation. Don't pay your staff well enough and you'll have a strike on your hands. You can also put little aesthetic touches to your hospital, such as potted plants (although remember to hire someone to water them), and vending machines which serve to add an extra source of income for your hospital. From time to time officials from the Ministry of Health will visit your hospital so be sure you have plenty of janitors to clear up any mess, water all the plants and kill any rats, otherwise you risk being fined. Another nice touch to the game are the random acts of God such as earthquakes and epidemics which add an extra layer of difficulty to later levels.
Speaking of difficulty, the early levels are incredibly easy and serve basically as makeshift tutorials. Once you get past these, however, the difficulty ramps up considerably, especially the last level where you are presented with a massive hospital full of patients suffering from every disease imaginable, frequent acts of God and a very dissatisfied workforce.
Graphically the game hasn't dated much, thanks to its cartoony images which are designed towards humour rather than realism. The game does suffer now and again from slow-down, particularly once your hospital starts admitting large numbers of patients, but this slow down is manageable and quite infrequent.
Overall, a fun though sometimes frustrating game. If you get the chance to play it, I suggest you do so as you will enjoy it, especially if you liked Theme Park.
Summary: An oft-overlooked classic