Camping Manager 2012
The word “camping” and I just don’t get along too well. I dislike the bugs, the lack of air conditioning, and the fact that the closest bathrooms are usually four thousand miles away. What can I say, civilization and modern-day technology have spoiled me. “Camping Manager 2012” promises to allow the player to “design their own paradise”, so needless to say I was curious as to just how far this simulation would take me. The player will be tasked with building a camp site that is both profitable and pleasing to those who choose to bunk there. Before we get into specifics, I’d like to thank the folks at Merge Games LTD for providing me with a free review copy.
The main menu will allow you to participate in the campaign, run amok in free play mode, load a saved game, and adjust game options. The options menu touches on your basics like screen resolution, shader quality, distance detail, camera modes, windowed mode, and audio volumes. The main menu also contains a link to the PDF manual that comes with the game. I highly recommend you browse this before playing, as the in-game tool tips often fly by faster than you can read them. I wasn’t fast enough and didn’t see what the procedure was for rotating a building for example, and thus had to consult the manual. (Rotating a building before placement requires that you hold “Shift” or “R” and scroll the mousewheel…you’re welcome)
I counted eleven missions on the campaign screen, but I didn’t advance far enough to see if more would become unlocked. Missions involve a time limit, tasking the player with satisfying certain statistics within a certain time frame. In one mission, I had to keep my assets over 5,000, attract 40 visitors, and have a two-star rating, just to name an example. For whatever reason, the mission summary screen text is in English, but has German voiceovers. Not a big deal seeing as how I can read, but really? The free play mode starts you off with 20,000 euros without any mission objectives. Usually I’d recommend playing the campaign first to learn the basics, but I found the campaign to be a bit lacking in the educational department. The campaign mode doesn’t handhold you in the slightest (even on the first mission), making the free play mode a much better choice in terms of getting your feet wet. Free play mode also offers three different areas in which to mess around, though a few of the buildable items are only available once you unlock them in the campaign.
The interface wasn’t all that difficult to figure out. Hovering your mouse over a particular button along the top row will que the tool tip pop up in the lower left. You can access your menu, advance time (1x,2x,3x,4x), view mission objectives, check financials, review the satisfaction ratings, and more. I found the game really easy to slide into, but understanding where some of the values were coming from took a little work. One of the satisfaction ratings is “supply” for example and at first glance, that could mean just about anything. Luckily, the manual is incredibly detailed and once again, I can’t stress enough that you should check it out before playing. Along the right side of the interface is your build menu, giving you access to facilities, entertainment, camping structures, kiosks, and a bunch of other items that are necessary to keep your visitors happy.
The gameplay mechanics, as mentioned above, take some doing to figure out. Your supply rating, as referenced in the aforementioned example, can be increased by placing water taps and kiosks around your park. Your visitors will need access to both food and water (obviously), but will also require a lot of positive ambience in order to be happy. Unlike “Roller Coaster Tycoon” and a lot of other simulations I’ve played, ambience plays a huge role in your overall satisfaction rating. Your ambience rating is derived by taking the average ambience level across your entire park, even if parts aren’t being used. This irked me a bit, as my rating tended to suffer even though my populated areas were surrounded by fountains. There’s a button along the top of the interface that will display the good (green) and bad (red) ambience so that you can address any issues accordingly.
On the money-making side of things, you’ll earn cash when folks rent out the tents, caravans, and chalets that you place for them. You’ll also earn a bit from kiosk sales. Most items in the game, especially your entertainment structures, have a maintenance cost associated with them and it’s very easy to let those costs run away from you. Keeping your funds on the plus side requires a bit of balance…having two tents and every possible entertainment building and facility will quickly run you out of business. It’s best to start small with tents and structures that address a few basic needs instead of going build happy. After a while, your visitors will accept higher prices as you increase your park rating.
The number of items you can construct isn’t all that big when you compare it to games like “Zoo Tycoon” and “Roller Coaster Tycoon”, but there’s enough to keep you busy for a bit. You can build paths, accommodations, tables and benches, dustbins, street lights & torches, decorations, trees, changing rooms, beach beds, kiosks, playground toys, sand, disco, barbecue areas, boat rentals, sanitary facilities, and more. Hiring gardeners and cleaners (the only two staff types you’ll need to worry about) are required for some of those items to keep their ambience up into the green. Clicking on a particular visitor will give you an idea as to why they may be happy or angry, as indicated by the green smiley face and angry red face bubbles that pop up over their heads from time to time. “Zoo Tycoon” vets will be familiar with that aspect and now that I think about it, there are a lot of likenesses between the two games.
“Camping Manager 2012” is a fairly competent simulator, backed up by an incredibly strong and detailed manual. It’s easy to play and will challenge your managerial skills a bit, though it can be a bit repetitive and frustrating. As I was playing, I constantly found myself praising the game for something one moment and then cursing it for something else the next. “The voiceovers are in German, but hey the graphics look pretty nice” or “This ambience button makes things convenient, but why do I need to balance things across the entire park?” The game did crash on me a few times, so my advice would be to save often. The campaign could stand to have multiple difficulty level options…at present, I found the missions to be too difficult and frustrating to enjoy. Earning money once you have a four-five star park is a bit more manageable, but good luck getting there within the time limit. In the end, the game didn’t particularly “WOW” me in any way, but it does enough things correctly to where I’d make return visits from time to time (mainly for the free play mode). For $14.99 (as of 7/10/13), I’ve seen much, much worse. The game doesn’t offer a demo, so feel free to check out my gameplay video(s) below to help you decide whether or not this is something you’d like to play.
Final Verdict: 6/10
You can learn more about and purchase the game by visiting the following websites:
You can view video play sessions here: