Cafe World vs. Restaurant City - Which Foodie Facebook Game Should I Play?

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Zynga's newest Facebook game, Cafe World, launched less than a week ago and it's already gaining a huge following on the popular social network. The game sets you up with your own cafe, letting you hire friends as waiters to help serve hungry customers. But how does it stack up to Restaurant City, the 6 month-old food shop game from competing social games developer Playfish? We pit the games head-to-head so you can decide which restaurant you'll want to be the top chef of.

What's for Dinner? (and Lunch, and Breakfast)


Cafe World'
s food selection ranges from Bacon Cheeseburgers to Shrimp Cocktails, from Pot Roast to Stir Fry. In order to cook each item, you'll need to pay for the ingredients (from 15 coins for the Baconburger to 5000 coins for the Impossible Quiche), prepare the ingredients by clicking on the stove a few times, then waiting a set amount of time for it to cook (cheaper foods take less than an hour, and at level 9, the most expensive food takes 2 days). When it's ready, there will be a certain number of servings available for your customers (again, depending on the complexity and price of the dish) -- if you don't serve it in time, though, the food will spoil and you'll have to start from scratch.

Free gifts in Cafe World serve as 'boosters' for customers. You might receive a Shirley Temple, which yields 5 extra coins per customer currently seated at your cafe.


Restaurant City's approach to food is much different -- in order to cook a dish, you'll need to collect the ingredients required (by trading with friends, buying them in the market, or answering daily quizzes) for it. Each dish can be leveled up to 10, with each level requiring more ingredients to complete -- higher level dishes will earn you a higher praise from your customers. Once you've 'learned' a dish, it'll become a permanent part of your menu and your cooks will automatically serve it.

The dishes in Restaurant City are also divided up into four categories - Starters, Main Course, Desserts and Drinks. The choices range from Garden Salads to Lamb Samosas, Lasagna to Mapo Tofu, Creme Brulee to Parfaits, Lemonades to Bubble Tea.

Click to see the rest of our comparison between Cafe World and Restaurant City >

Money Money Money

Cafe World starts you off with a hefty investment. You'll have enough cash to buy decorations for your cafe, cook any of the unlocked dishes (more are available as you level up) and generally make your restaurant a nice place to eat. Customers pay depending on which dish is served to them.

You'll have another source of income if you visit friends' cafes -- you'll earn 5XP and 20 coins for each friend you visit, each day. You'll also receive tips when your friends visit your cafe.

Restaurant City
makes it much more challenging to bring in a large income from the start. Since ingredients for each dish will cost you a few thousand coins (at least), you'll have to make do with just a few simple dishes while you bring in the income. This also makes it difficult to purchase many decorations for your restaurant at the onset.

That said, since you don't have to "re-cook" any dishes once you've obtained ingredients for them, you'll never run out of food for your customers, no matter how poor you are.

Customization


Cafe World
and Restaurant City have similar customization/decoration options. You'll be able to purchase fancier tables and chairs, windows and doors, flooring and wallpaper for your place. A variety of decorations are also available, ranging from plants to televisions and lamps. Restaurant City currently has more functional items -- you can buy arcade units, music players and toilets, which help raise your restaurant's rating.


You can also buy new clothing and accessories for avatars in both games (although Cafe World only lets you customize yourself -- in Restaurant City, you can change the appearance of any of your employees as well). Restaurant City also lets you decorate the outside of your restaurant, visible to your friends and visitors on the Street Level view of the game.

With a Little Help From Your Friends


Cafe World
lets you hire your friends as servers for the restaurant (they'll need to be playing Cafe World, too). For the most part, your friends are self-sufficient -- you don't need to watch after them after they've been hired, but you can fire them at any point (ouch). Like noted earlier, you can also interact with friends by visiting their cafes.


Restaurant City gets your friends involved a bit more -- you're able to hire any friend from Facebook, regardless of whether they play the game, and assign them to become either a chef, a waiter or a cleaner. Because both you and your friends' energy levels will decrease as they work, you'll need to either let them rest every once in a while or buy them food to keep them working. You'll also need your friends' help (ones that play the game) to trade ingredients --again, ingredients are key to helping you advance your dishes in the game.

Switching to the Street Level view lets you visit your friends' restaurants, but aside from earning a free ingredient for the first visit, there's not much to do once you get there.

The Verdict?

This is a hard one to call. Restaurant City is deeper -- it lets you involve your friends more and invest in the dishes you're passionate about. But Cafe World is easier to start with (and it's also less than a week old, which means Zynga might balance out early features sooner rather than later) and structure-wise might be more familiar to players of games such as FarmVille. You'll find that all of us are playing both games, so we're pretty conflicted too. In the end, it's about which of the above features you value.

Do you like Restaurant City or Cafe World better? Why?
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