Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! is perhaps one of my most anticipated games of this year. I loved the first game and its unique combination of restaurant management and time management gameplay. It constantly challenged players to assemble orders quickly using a large number of ingredients, testing both speed and memorization skills. It is a great game and, somehow, Vertigo Gaming has managed to create a sequel that appears to improve upon the original game in nearly every way. I was recently given a chance to take a look at the PAX preview build of the game and share my thoughts on it.
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to discuss the game in quite as much detail as I’d like. While the PAX preview build gave me a look at the Tower, including somewhere around a dozen pre-determined dishes that I could choose between, and a few of the new Chef for Hire restaurants, any gameplay elements related to persistent progression were completely removed from it, meaning that I wasn’t able to experience how they work. I don’t know how basic your kitchen is when you start out, including whether or not you have to purchase a grill, as in the first game.
Beyond the largely superior graphics and larger number of dishes that you can cook, gameplay is largely the same as the first game. There are a few nice details that have been added, such as customers that sit in the background, the customers that are sitting there changing as time passes, but it will feel very familiar to those who have played the first game. You will still manage a restaurant, earning money over the course of each day that will be spent upgrading your restaurant, and play through dozens of levels of time management-style gameplay, choosing which orders to complete and completing them through intricate processes that are meant to emulate the actual preparation of the dishes that you are preparing.
One of the larger changes to the game is that you can now play a true cooperative mode in which both players are able to complete any task. No longer is one player stuck simply expediting while the other gets to cook; now, each player can pick and choose which order they want to work on and complete the order independently of the other or even prepare foods to be used . This greatly enhances the cooperative experience, as it makes it feel as if both players really get to play the game. The one issue is that, in part due to the colors that the developers chose, it can be difficult to tell whose selector is on which space when you first start playing, which can lead to some frustration early on, but, in my experience, you will adapt fairly quickly if you keep at it.
The new Chef for Hire mode is also particularly interesting because it offers specific, themed challenges in restaurants other than your own, rather than relying exclusively on your own handpicked menus. Even some of the challenges that are available in the preview build are rather challenging and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store.
The controls have also been adjusted significant and I’m rather torn about the new control scheme. Certain elements are far more comfortable while others have led to a little bit of frustration. Given that I played both games with an Xbox controller, I will be discussing the changes to controls specifically in regards to the game’s Xbox control scheme.
In the first game, you would select orders with RB and send them out with LB. Ingredients would be chosen with the face buttons, A/B/X/Y, and the joysticks. If a dish had a particularly large number of ingredients that could be added to it, you could access a second panel by holding LT. Personally, I find joystick controls to be frustrating when used in such a manner, which is largely due to the fact that, unlike the click of a button, the direction in which you push a joystick isn’t as definitive. When you’re working quickly, it can be all too easy to just barely push the joystick in the wrong direction.
Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! introduces a fully revamped control scheme. You now select orders with X or which foods to prepare with Y. The preparation of dishes no longer makes use of the joysticks. Instead, there are now two columns per panel, each of which can hold up to four actions or ingredients. To add an ingredient or perform an action, you hold either LT or RT, respectively, and press the corresponding face button. To access new panels, you release the trigger that you are currently holding and press B. If you end up needing to go back to a previous panel, you simply continue pressing B until the active panel cycles back around to the first one. Once a dish has been fully prepared, you simply release both triggers and press A to complete it and send it out. Dishes that don’t need additional preparation are sent out by simply highlighting them and pressing X. Overall, the new control scheme is much more comfortable to use and makes memorizing patterns much simpler than trying to memorize which joysticks are used for which ingredients and so on. I’ve had a few issues with tripping over the triggers or accidentally hitting a button sooner than I pressed the trigger all the way down, sending out the order before it was finished in the process, but I’m sure that such errors will cease to be a problem in due time.
The game also features a few new niceties that help to reduce frustration during play. When preparing dishes, actions that wouldn’t logically be performed before or after another action are inaccessible. Additionally, each ingredient in the displayed recipe is color-coded to match the panel that the ingredient is on, making it much easier to find.
While I’ve yet to be able to experience Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!’s deeper, progression-based systems, I’ve enjoyed the PAX preview build quite a bit and have already sunk two hours into it. The game improves on its predecessor in almost every way, offering improved graphics, more detailed environments, and a better control scheme. The dishes that were included in the preview build were both fun and, at times, a bit terrifying due to the number of ingredients that you had to manage. I’m looking forward to seeing more of the game and its alleged 60+ hour campaign, especially when it comes to dishes like sushi that I’ve yet to be able to experience.