Game Reviews

Paradise Island

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| Paradise Island
Paradise Island
| Paradise Island

When summer holidays loom large, it's tempting to pick the sunniest place you can think of that doesn't require several vaccinations and a fairly lengthy spell on a foreign toilet.

I myself caved in one year, taking a trip to the somewhat hotter climes of southern Spain after a particularly wet few months in the UK.

It took roughly 20 minutes sat on the beach before I was utterly bored, longing for a cloud or two to cover the ball of fire seemingly edging closer and closer to my now alarmingly pink flesh.

Paradise Island is a bit like one of those irksome holidays. On the surface, its attempt at SimCity-meets-social gaming seems interesting enough, but it soon becomes a rather pale and painful mess – much like your average British man abroad.

Painful paradise

Much of the problem lies with the fact that Paradise Island never really settles on what type of game it wants to be.

Your job is to plan, construct, and make money from a tropical resort, starting with little more than a derelict pier to your name and ending with a tourist trap.

Just as in life, progress relies on the health of your bank balance, with everything you construct – from accommodation to entertainment – earning you money that you can then employ on building new venues, both increasing the staff under your wings and the revenue you take in as a result.

Doing so is a question of nothing more than a few taps. The buildings available for construction are listed in simple menus organised by category. Hotels and restaurants are bundled together, for instance, with tourist attractions also sectioned off in their own gallery, and so on.

Once you've picked your development, you plop it on an empty plot adjacent to a road.

Making tracks

It's building the roads themselves, however, that cause most annoyance. The game demands you find a suitable starting spot before snaking the proposed track around at random by holding your finger elsewhere on the screen.

It's both confusing and impracticable, given that the roads rarely sits exactly where you want. Furthermore, once you've defined your starting point, the only way of canceling is to exit the option altogether.

It's the general pace of play, though, that frustrates the most. Although Paradise Island superficially resembles SimCity, it actually feels more like the kind of slow, social game you might encounter on Facebook. Building anything seems to take minutes rather than seconds and the only way to speed up construction being to spend extra cash.

As a result, you're then left high and dry until the venues you've constructed start earning money. That means that leaving the game alone until the funds start to flow again your only option.

Holiday from hell?

Or so you might think. In a rather canny move, Paradise Island allows you to buy extra credit using real money, starting at £1.19. Shell out on such upgrades and the game sparks into life.

Hold off and Paradise Island essentially punishes you, keeping you stuck in the mire of what is some especially mediocre gameplay.

That is, to all intents and purposes, just what Paradise Island represents. There's no real drive behind it and no sense of charm. It's simply an engine designed to make you cough up cash so that you can build a resort that does nothing but gets bigger and look flashier as you go.

It's a game without a game, making Paradise Island the perfect bedfellow for those wasted weekends at the beach.

Paradise Island

As slow as a social game but without the social elements themselves, Paradise Island lacks body and, if played for long periods, is a particularly bitter experience
Keith Andrew
Keith Andrew
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font. He's also Pocket Gamer's resident football gaming expert and, thanks to his work on, monitors the market share of all mobile OSes on a daily basis.