Big Pharma Review

These days you would need to spend years in university and spend lots of money on learning to be a Doctor and studying medicine. But why waste all that time and money when you can just play Big Pharma, a game that solely focuses on you making new pills, creams and cures for all manner of issues you may have. Can a game with a simple plot offer a deeper and more understandable time when you get hands on? Well, after a steep learning curve I believe it can.

This Xbox port comes after it having been releases on other platforms already. If you haven’t seen it then you may be asking what is the game all about? Well, my wannabe doctors, this is a pharmaceuticals tycoon game, more about money management with a puzzle aspect to be precise. So if you were hoping for something along the lines of Theme Hospital I’m afraid (like me) you’re out of luck.

You have one goal in Big Pharma; to create some correct medicines and sell them for a good profit (just like the real thing…). To help you on your way, the game begins with a well informed tutorial. Expect a hefty read along with this, but it will help you no end. You will also be able to go back to any of the missions for a recap if you need to. Now, you will have many different chemicals and items used to make new cures. Each of these items not only have positive effects – like a painkiller, or even at, at a stretch, a cure for cancer in the form of a pill – but with each positive effect expect at least two side effects. These may include warts, headaches and many other issues. This is where the puzzle side of the game begins. So, with every item it will start with a concentration number; this number will need to be wiggled around and either raised or lowered to hit the desired area. What I mean by this is that the good effect of the pill may be 13 bars up the list, whereas the bad effects could be 7 and 15. When the pill starts at 5 your job is to get a happy medium for a good sale. Now this is what your job in the game consists of pretty much all the time. You will need to use lots of different machines though to aid you. These machines will be basic to start you off; for instance they will add and minus points from the ingredients going into the machine and this is where you will start to be able to get the correct balance.

So the machines aren’t all easy and basic to use, they all have different uses and this of course will allow you to make stronger and better medicines to gain more money. Now all these machines need to be connected and everything is belt fed so get used to laying everything bit by bit in the game. This did become somewhat frustrating. Every item needs to be turned to fit the track and isn’t auto click placement so you will need to place each item slowly and carefully, and further more make sure you use the space provided carefully because the rooms aren’t straight forward squares, just to add that extra challenge to the game.

Being a tycoon and money management game, laying belts and machines won’t be the only thing you need to keep an eye on as you will need to keep track of your money. Without a good feed coming in you will soon be coming to a halt. What with all the research upgrades you will need, you also need to be playing more cautiously. This is after the tutorial and trying out a few of the missions they have to offer I went and played free play which gives you infinite money and all machines to start you off.

Apart from the machines moving around and joining them to other parts of your conveyor you don’t really need to have anymore controls then that. You will also use the LB and RB but that’s about it, however I did find that the cursor would fly around rather quickly and that was my one issue. Other then that the visuals are plain and simple and the games very colourful but the music is some what bland and not really worth the time.


With mixing ingredients, laying down machines and belts and money management Big Pharma certainly keeps you busy. However, when you get to a point where you are short some cash, you will be left to wait until you earn more money – and this means a lot of waiting. This isn’t helped by already slow gameplay and the meticulous amount of attention to detail needed, leading to easily made but hard to rectify mistakes. In the end, the time invested rarely feels worth the reward.

This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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  • Intuitive controls
  • Tutorial sets you up nicely...
  • ...which is handy, as there's a steep learning curve
  • Some odd shaped room layouts spike the difficulty
Gameplay - 5
Graphics - 6
Audio - 3
Longevity - 6
Written by
I was born to win, well, or at least try. I review games, post news and other content at Xbox Tavern. When that's not happening, I'm collecting as many achievements as possible or hitting up the latest FPS / RPG. Feel free to add me - Gamertag: urbanfungus

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