A few years ago, a game was released called Hillsea Lido. I never actually got to play the game as I didn't think I would like it so I never brought it. But the concept was an interesting one nevertheless. The point of the game was to put your business skills to the test as you attempted to turn an empty stretch of beach into a sun drenched gold mine.
Now we have Beach Life. Beach Life in a sense is the same thing as Hillsea Lido. You are given an island, or a stretch of coast and then you're given the task to build a resort where your guests can party, get together, get drunk and act silly.
The game itself is spread across 12 islands, which are in turn split into 14 missions. On each island your goal is basically to make it a success, build attractions, clean the place up, make it look nice and generally make sure your guests have a good time.
To achieve your goal, you can choose from a huge range of buildings however many of them you won't find a place for in your resort. These buildings range from swimming pools to beach barbecues and they all have an effect on how and what type of holidaymaker you will attract. Some buildings also allow you to change the type of item to be sold and their price. For example you can change the type and strength of the beer on sale and also charge more or less for it accordingly.
The 14 missions offer a varied list of goals and also provide an easy introduction to the game. The goals on each island vary from one to the other, as do the problems you need to overcome to make the party island a success. These goals range from such matters as seeing that not more than 5 people get eaten by sharks, to ones that ensure that 50 couples have a romp on the beach!
The game also features a sandbox mode, where you can build your resort from scratch, exactly as you want it with the buildings you want in the places you want. You will have design everything from the layout to the scenery, placing trees, paths, fountains, buildings and any other bit of scenery that you possibly desire on your island. The only problem with the sandbox mode is that you can only play on an island, which you have completed already in the main game. So you have to play the main game first.
Like other games of its type, you are also required do some staff management. Unlike the buildings however this only requires you to look after 6 types of staff. You can usually get away with sorting all of these management issues out in the first few minutes of the game by building the required buildings first and then employing the maximum amount of staff and sorting their working hours out accordingly.
In game money as in all of these types of games is an important issue. I did find that the best time for making money is during the night as that's when the expensive clubs and bars are open. You can earn in one night from $100 to $5000 which is usually enough to see you through the day till the next night.
All the in-game graphics have been wonderfully rendered and are a treat to look at. You can zoom in and out of your resort and it does look its best when zoomed out, zooming in just makes the graphics blocky and is impractical for viewing purposes as you can't see what is going on properly.
The various characters that come to your resort are also very well animated and very detailed. Unlike similar games of this genre, you do get a variety of guests coming to your resort. However the problem is that not very much else is animated. The water moves nicely and some of the buildings have a little bit of animation but items like trees and plants just sit there trying to look pretty. It would have been nice to have some more animation to such objects to make the islands really come alive.
The sound is also pretty well done, although whilst the game does come with some nice music the sound effects are limited and once again the island seems a little dead as a result. Fortunately for us though is the inclusion of an MP3 player, this little feature allows you to load your own music tracks to play during the game.
The controls are very nice and intuitive, it is very easy to build buildings and place the scenery, but besides that there is little you need to learn which is new to this kind of game. If you have played Theme Park, Rollercoaster Tycoon or any other similar game then you will be well at home.
Overall, I quite like Beach Life, it's a nice little game for a while but the fun soon wears off. The ability to take pictures of your resort offers little satisfaction and after a few hours playing, the game does get extremely repetitive. It would have been nice to have some buildings you can design such as the water rides or even put some research into the game for new/improved buildings.