Criticising a game for being too hard has been the downfall of many a reviewer.
We like to present ourselves as super-skilled players, unfazed by any challenge a developer can throw our way, and admitting weakness is to invite angry comments and a trip to the Job Centre.
Still, Bridge Constructor Playground, while brighter and more inviting to newcomers than its hardcore predecessor, is simply too hard. There, I've said it. Now I'd better explain why.Uncivil engineering
In all 30 stages your task is always the same and always a compelling challenge - build a bridge over a deadly drop (canyon, ravine, river) and then run some cars and lorries over it and pray they make to the other side.
Unlike the first game, Playground features a lengthy tutorial stage that teaches you how to use different materials (wood, concrete, suspension wires) to create more stable structures. Unfortunately, it only teaches you the bare bones of what do, such as using triangles to construct sturdy supports. It leaves the rest for you to figure out.
The curtain-like menus (which can quickly be opened to reveal your tools) and tap-and-drag item placement are intuitive enough to grasp, but you'll find a stylus is preferable to chunky fingers for intricate structures.
With an unlimited budget and endless piles of materials to hand, passing each early stage is a doddle - especially if you watch for glowing red patches of road that are likely to collapse.
Unfortunately, making a meticulously designed, functional bridge isn't enough to get you through the game.Downfall
Instead, you have to earn a series of badges for building ridiculously cheap bridges that can still carry the weighty trucks, often without straining the structure beyond a tiny weight limit.
As you can't unlock the next series of levels without enough badges, you're forced to replay completed stages ad infinitum until you figure out the precise solution.
Admittedly, it's easy to lose more than few hours to tinkering with your designs, but you'll need to enroll in an Open University course in Civil Engineering to unlock the final levels. I doubt you'd call it a 'Playground' experience.
Developer Headup Games has definitely ramped up the visuals and chirpy soundtrack to appeal to a wider audience with this semi-sequel, but it forgot that fun comes from letting your imagination run riot rather than being constantly constrained by unbreakable rules.