After absolutely loving Theme Hospital back in the day, it's fair to say that we were really looking forward to finally getting our hands on the console version of spiritual successor Two Point Hospital, and we're very happy to say that it exceeded our expectations in every way.
The basic premise is that you build hospitals. If you played Theme Hospital in your youth, you'll know exactly what you're getting into here. If you haven't, it's a comedic, isometric hospital builder where you cure novelty illnesses and try and achieve certain goals such as raising the reputation of your hospital or curing X amount of patients.
Two Point Hospital has one of the gentlest and nicest tutorials we've seen in a long time. Your goal is to complete a series of tasks in order to get a gold star. Doing so on your first hospital will, in turn, open up the next. Each hospital you build has a maximum of three stars that once obtained will open up new premises or items that you can use to decorate your wards.
You always start off in a similar manner: build a reception, a GP's office, another diagnostic clinic, and then a pharmacy. You then staff your facility, and off you go. Soon you'll be researching new tech and building machines that can turn patients back into normal after suffering from an 8-bit pixel rendering (if you want a more detailed explanation of how it all works, check out our original review of the PC version of the game).
We pumped hours into improving the medical facilities of Two Point County and we never once got bored. We know that on the PC there are quite a few of these sorts of games, but in the console space, these thoughtful simulations are few and far between. A nice addition to this port is the fact that two DLCs (Bigfoot and Pebberley Island) from the PC version have been included - a nice touch from the developer, but it's a shame we couldn't get the Sandbox Mode and The Superbug Initiative added in time for launch (they're coming in late March so it's not a huge deal).
It looks great on console too, with crisp textures and effective lighting, and overall it has the same cute art style that players of the Theme games will remember. Not only that, but the menu systems work perfectly; oftentimes when games come over from the PC, the controls feel clunky on console. However, in TPH this not the case and it almost feels like it was designed to be played on a controller - it was so well-implemented that we could hardly imagine using a mouse at all.
One final thing to mention is the audio and the scriptwriting. A lot of it comes in the form of hospital radio, and the dialogue, DJs and the general tone is perfectly pitched, well written, humorous and full of fantastic cultural references. We kept laughing at the pastiches, all the while thinking that the writers must have a big love for Steven King (there were references to several of the author's novels littered throughout).
All in all, Two Point Hospital was and is a brilliant experience. It's a game that we'll keep playing for a long time after this review is published (and that's not always the case). If the cute graphics and witty dialogue don't keep you entertained, curing the patients who think they're Shakespeare or who have turned into polygons most certainly will.
Despite its origins on PC, we had so much fun playing on PS4, and if you're a big fan of Theme/tycoon titles and funny games in general, we heartily recommend that you book an appointment to see this one.
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