Two Point’s latest is a scholarly addition to the management sim genre. Here’s our review of Two Point Campus…
It’s been 15 years since I left university, but after playing Two Point Campus, it’s like no time has passed at all. The only difference now is that I’m running the place, and I can put Crazy Taxi arcade machines in every hallway if I want to. Although, that would probably take away money that would be better spent on staff training, new classrooms, or perhaps a party at the student union. Decisions, decisions…
You start off your career in Two Point Campus at the modest Freshleigh, where expectations are low, and you can learn the business of campus management. You’re introduced to the game’s mechanics via bite-sized tasks, and anyone who has played 2018’s Two Point Hospital will be at home with the controls. You’re first asked to build a classroom for the Scientography course, and doing so is an intuitive affair. Dragging your cursor across the grid that makes up each building allows you to set the size of the room, while the responsive camera controls allow you to place every item just where you’d like it. Simulations like this are often made for PC and later ported to console, their control scheme a hurried add-on. Here, Two Point Studios has developed both PC and console versions together, meaning the controls feel fluid and natural on console.
Soon you’re into the menus, selecting teachers, assistants, and janitors to hire. The UI is clear, and it didn’t take long to work out where to go for what and the buttons to press to get there. Again, the console controls have been thought through well, with each section of the UI being accessible through a face button or D-pad press. Almost all actions you’ll want to take are a couple of clicks away, which means you’re spending more time checking out the goings-on of your students than you are buried in multilayered menus.
Then there’s the Aardman-meets-Bullfrog aesthetic. Cartoonish characters roam your university, each with their own exaggerated features and quirky mannerisms. The typical geek can be seen wringing their hands, walking with an awkward gait (which I sometimes mistook for them needing the bathroom), while the goth sports a long, black trench coat and a cocky saunter. The rich kid seems to own the place as they breeze through the campus, comically large top hat visible a mile away, while robotics students have mechanical prosthetics and march around like the robot they’re trying to create. It’s all charming, and gives your university much more personality.
Your goal is to move from campus to campus, helping to solve its problems, and ultimately bring in applicants and see them leave with high grades. That means balancing not only the needs of the university, but also the needs of the students. You might have a world-class VR lab, but do you have places for the students to unwind and socialise? Are there any clubs on campus for them to join? Students will often give you requests that will help with their studies, or that will make their time at university more enjoyable. You may be asked to buy a culinary bookcase for the library to aid with research, or to place a specific poster in a room to make someone happy (or give the area more prestige). These requests often come in thick and fast, and can be rejected if you so wish. These are separate from the goals set by the establishment itself, which will help the campus grow and eventually reach a coveted three-star status.
The ultimate goal is to attain stars for each campus you manage. There are three on offer, and usually attaining one will give you access to the next available campus, but a good challenge comes from trying to obtain all three. There are 12 universities to manage in total, each with their own set of goals to meet. You could move through them within a couple of hours each, sure, but the lure of getting those stars and crafting the best campus possible meant that I spent much more time than that with the game.
While my time with Two Point Campus was predominantly positive, there were some small issues that felt jarring. The tasks set by students, to buy certain items or hold events, were quite frequent, and often came when I didn’t have the kudosh (kudos points for meeting certain milestones) available to unlock what they were asking for. Rejecting these requests is a viable option, and gives you a certain amount of time to action them if you don’t, but they just felt pointless when I knew I couldn’t make the kudosh in time. There was also some slowdown in certain areas, and occasionally the build menu had a mind of its own, ignoring my directional inputs. Most egregious of all, however, was that the developers put a Crazy Taxi arcade machine in the game but didn’t make it playable. How dare they!
Overall, though, there’s a great time to be had with this second outing from Two Point Studios. While Two Point Hospital sometimes stood in the shadow of its inspiration, Theme Hospital, Two Point Campus has helped the studio step out into the limelight with something new, entertaining, and funny. I’m excited to see what the future holds for the developer now they have such a solid foundation in place. Two Point Mall, perhaps.
Like Two Point Hospital, Campus again features the sarcastic tannoy announcer, along with a host of DJs for various fictitious radio stations throughout the regions you visit. Alongside fun music, the audio for the game really helps give a great sense of personality that I very much appreciated.