Both the best and the worst thing you can say about RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 is that it is nearly identical to its predecessor. It's both a blessing and a curse, because the millions of fans of the original and its two expansion packs will no doubt be happy to receive more of the same park-building fun but crestfallen over how few changes have been made by developer Chris Sawyer. Though newcomers will likely find the sequel enjoyable for the simple, engaging fun that it shares with the original game, if you were already a fan of RollerCoaster Tycoon, you'll probably have a hard time believing that you waited so long for what the sequel has to offer: the same old graphics, the same old rides, and the same old objectives.
For the most part, RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 is more like a stand-alone expansion for the first game than a true sequel. The gameplay is cut from the same cloth as the original and its expansion packs in nearly every way. The 26 huge scenarios feature nothing but fairly ordinary objectives, so while you are almost overwhelmed in terms of how much you can get out of the game itself--each scenario, even the three beginner parks, can take as long as six or seven hours to complete--you're basically doing the same things you did in the first game. In one scenario, you have to earn a monthly income from ride tickets of at least $10,000. In another, you have to repay a bank loan and build your park's value to at least $500,000. And in another scenario, you have to erect 10 different roller coasters, each more than 3,937 feet in length and with excitement ratings of 7.00 or more. And so on. If you've never played RollerCoaster Tycoon before, you may indeed find these objectives enjoyable, even challenging--but if you're a fan of the series, you've seen them before. Fortunately, the developer at least had the foresight to let you play any of the scenarios at any time.
Also, RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 offers a bit more variety in terms of the parks you can build. A number of the game's more challenging scenarios involve theme parks, which gives them a unique character that isn't provided by the traditional objectives. Alpine Adventures, for example, is set on an icy mountain that is more hospitable to skis than roller coasters, while Infernal Views seems to overlook the tourist-trap ring of Dante's Inferno. Also, RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 features the official Six Flags license. You can try your hand at running five official Six Flags parks, including such popular family destinations as Great Adventure and Magic Mountain. These locations can be played as formal scenarios starting with parks that resemble their real-world counterparts or as part of a build mode that lets you put together a park from the ground up.
Unfortunately, most of the original RollerCoaster Tycoon's rides and concession stands have been carried over to the sequel with few additions or alterations. Although the sequel's huge selection of rides and amenities is much bigger than that of any other management game, it's still disappointing to see so few changes. Fans of the original and its expansions will recognize everything but Six Flags roller coaster designs like Colossus and Psyclone, a few new flat rides such as Magic Carpet and Soap Box Derby Racers, and some new amenities like ATM kiosks and theme toilets. Some of the preexisting attractions have seen a little fine-tuning. Coasters, for example, can now feature banked inclines, steeper lifts, and new train types. Lots of scenery has been added. This includes elements of Wild West, giant garden, and pirate themes, along with all sorts of new fences and foliage to better custom-fit your parks.