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RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 Review
developer: Frontier Developments
PIII 733, 128MB RAM, 250MB HDD, 32MB video card
|ESRB rating: E
release date: Nov 02, 04 (released)
|» All About RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 on ActionTrip|
A day in the life of a misanthrope...
I have a confession to make. I hate people. Despise 'em. So it should not be terribly surprising that the general well being of my fellow humans never ranks very highly on my list of priorities. Therefore, it would follow that the prospect of building a rollercoaster in any of Rollercoaster Tycoon games and watching people cheer and squeal with delight doesn't interest me much. Fortunately for me, there was this one thing about rollercoasters that you should remember - not all people would cheer when they got off the rollercoaster: some were scared. Others find the nearest trashcan and vomit their pretty little guts out. This is where I started liking the whole idea. "Why not give this a chance?" I said to myself. "I can scare the hell out of them." So, with a measure of devilish glee, I got to work.
Ahoy there! It's those damn kids again! Let's not forget to load the cannon this time, shall we?
I guess you won't be cheering when you find out this train has no brakes, kiddo!
I was soon rewarded for making that decision, as I noticed straight away how beautiful RollerCoaster Tycoon now looked. Everything is now in full 3D, which does not only make this game a beauty to behold but also makes the rollercoaster building process much easier. What really caught my eye were the water effects, which made me dig up the whole terrain and make water rides instead of those wooden or steel coasters. RollerCoaster Tycoon really excels in the graphic department whose only downside may be the appearance of the people. Although your guests now have unique appearances, they do look a bit as if they've been made of Lego blocks. This was most noticeable with the horses, which had the most peculiar heads and perfectly squared butts (Hey, some people like that sort of thing - Smapdey (Who also has a square butt - Ed)). Still, this is not something that will ruin the otherwise beautiful looks of this game for you. The fact this is but a rollercoaster simulation will make the graphics even more impressive in your eyes.
Now, what else is new with RollerCoaster Tycoon? Apart from some changes and neat additions such as the inclusion of Sandbox mode, everything has essentially stayed the same. The game mechanism is the same and most controls and options are similar to the ones in the previous installments. All fans of the series should thus be familiar with them, and for all those who have just discovered the wondrous world of RollerCoaster Tycoon there, is a very detailed tutorial which covers all the necessary subjects. Even if you decide to skip the tutorial and learn everything you need to know on the fly, that won't be much of a problem to you. The interface and game options are very logical and intuitive so you'll always know what you're doing. Thanks to the pause button that will let you stop the game while building, you will have all the time in the world to make the process of putting together a rollercoaster a great experience.
Still, the change to full 3D graphics is not the only change made in the game. There is now one more way to enjoy your rollercoaster, and that is to take a ride with your guests. This is now possible thanks to the ride cam, so you can see for yourself what the ride looks like. I really loved this option, so I spent a lot of time goofing around and switching views in order to see the looks of my park from a birds eye perspective. Maybe you won't consider the introduction of the ride cam revolutionary, but it's fun, dammit.
The main thing in the RollerCoaster Tycoon is once again the career mode, which takes you through 18 scenarios in which you are assigned with different tasks, from building a specific rollercoaster to tidying the whole place up. Although the goals are varied, the main premise always stays the same - you are given a "problematic" rollercoaster that you have to bring back to life. You will always do it by hiring staff members who will take care of everything and building a ride or two. With two fantastic rollercoasters and enough food and drink vendors, this should be no problem on the easiest difficulty setting. In case you're up for a bigger challenge, you can always try yourself on some of the higher difficulty settings. Completing scenarios on the most difficult, "tycoon" level will be required for unlocking additional scenarios. The good thing is that most of the scenarios will be unlocked so you can choose in which order you're going to play.
Unfortunately, I did not find the game varied enough. Although it took me quite a while to build my rollercoasters, organize rides and decorate the park the way I found suitable, I could not help but notice that all the scenarios were somewhat alike. Even the different goals and various themes didn't help me shake off the impression that I was constantly playing the same scenario over and over again. On one hand, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 is a complex game that lets you decide about everything - from the price of the ticket to the position of every goddamn tree on the map. On the other hand, the complexity is ruined by some completely illogical design solutions. The game would report to me all the problems in the park, such as the breakdown of a rollercoaster, but even if I forgot about it, there was no harm done as my staff would almost immediately take care of it. I am the one to appreciate the effectiveness of my staff members, but this sometimes made the game too easy. I would always take care to hire several mechanics at the beginning of a game and didn't even bother to read the warnings the game issued. They will take care of it, I thought, and they always did. I should give them a raise.
While your staff is reliable, your guests are very unpredictable. They would sometimes take to liking the shittiest hamburger I offered them for an insane price (no ketchup or onions included). Sometimes I would cut down the price of a hamburger and include some ketchup or cheese, but they wouldn't eat it half-price even if their life depended on it. They behaved the same way when rides were in question - sometimes they would queue up for a merry-go-round and completely ignore the beautiful rollercoaster with animated T-Rex and that sort of thing only several yards away. I cut the price until the merry-go-round was twice as expensive as the rollercoaster, but that didn't help. I read that others also had issues with this peculiar sort of behavior of their guests, so it's good to know I'm not alone. Still, it hurts to know how much money and time I've spent on that damn rollercoaster. The game never offered me any explanation as to what makes guests love something one minute and hate it the next. (If we could figure that out, AT would rule the WORLD! - Ed.)
Still, there is one general rule about your guests, and that is that they all have different tastes, so you should not expect younger or older guests to enjoy the same (wild) rides as teens. Don't expect the grannies to enjoy the ride on the spooky rollercoaster with some neat animated winged demons that are spitting out rivers of fire (my favorite).
Impressive and very detailed 3D graphics (for a coaster sim.), new sandbox mode, easier coaster building tool, a great selection of coasters and rides, ride camera;
All scenarios tend to play the same, the guests' behavior is sometimes unpredictable, the sounds are not varied enough, the game is not rewarding enough and doesn't bring any truly innovative solutions to the table.