If not for some of the glaring bugs in the retail version, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 would have been a truly excellent sequel to a beloved franchise.
- Beautiful 3D graphics come alive
- Plenty of built-in content
- Virtually ride all the rides
- Build your own fireworks show.
- Serious bugs affect gameplay
- Big parks can slow performance.
Making a sequel to a hit game is tricky business. If you simply rehash the original, fans will complain that it's more of the same. But if you change too much, you risk losing what made the original special. The RollerCoaster Tycoon series stands as good evidence of these potential pitfalls. The first game quietly debuted in 1999, only to become a huge success that spawned countless imitators. But the series stumbled with RollerCoaster Tycoon 2, which was deemed by fans to be too much like the first game. That brings us to RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, the newest game in the series. In many ways, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 is the sequel we've been waiting for--the one that updates the gameplay and graphics to modern-day standards. Yet while RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 delivers on those promises, its potential is undermined by some glaring bugs.
Like its predecessors, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 allows you to build the theme park of your dreams and then watch as your guests (known as peeps) walk around and enjoy the rides. Thanks to its next-generation 3D technology, the parks come to life like never before. Though the appearance has drastically changed, much of the underlying game mechanics remain comfortably familiar for the most part. Once again, your job in the career mode is to take charge of a series of failing or nascent theme parks and make them flourish. Each scenario has a three-tiered set of objectives, ranging from apprentice (the easiest) to tycoon (the hardest). In order to accomplish the apprentice objectives (and unlock a new map), all you usually have to do is hire park staff to clean and maintain the park and build a few extra rides, concession stands, and coasters. Using this method, you can blitz through most of the scenarios in the game. But if you want a tougher challenge, you can tackle the more advanced objectives, which will task you with harder goals, such as repaying the park's loans or building coasters of a certain length and excitement level.
British studio Frontier, which developed the game with oversight from series creator Chris Sawyer, wisely didn't stray too far from many of Sawyer's established conventions. You still design the park and build a wide range of rides and attractions, and you can pick from prebuilt coasters to ones that you design on the fly. The coaster-building tool is derived from the first two games, but it's easier to use, thanks to the 3D engine that allows you to zoom in and move the camera around to better understand the layout of your coaster. And you'll still control veritably every aspect of your park, from the entrance fee, research and development on new attractions, ticket prices, all the way down to the color schemes on your rides and employees' uniforms. Meanwhile, Frontier also threw in its own, welcome innovations, such as a fireworks editor that lets you create your own custom fireworks show to go along with a mix of your favorite tunes, which you can import easily into the game. Then there's a new focus on the peeps. Each of your peeps now has a unique appearance, and they are now separated into demographic and social groups. Young peeps steer toward gentle rides, while teen peeps like extreme thrills, whereas older peeps will move toward the more sedate entertainment.
But at the heart of the RollerCoaster Tycoon games is the sheer sense of fun that you feel when watching your peeps enjoy your park. There's nothing like seeing a peep come off a thrilling coaster and pump his hands in the air while the peep behind him looks nauseous and has to sit down. Then there's the satisfaction of building a hot new ride and seeing the peeps queue up in a huge line, waiting to give it a try. RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 manages to capture some of this, but Frontier also loses something in the translation from the original games. Gone is the giddy, infectious carnival music that seemed universally present in the first two games. In its place is a rather mellow, almost New Age theme music, and while you can customize the music on all of your rides by importing your favorite tunes, you have to zoom in close to a ride to hear the music. What's more serious, though, are RollerCoaster Tycoon 3's gameplay issues.
- Player Reviews: 169
- Game Universe:
- RollerCoaster Tycoon (PC, XBOX),
- RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 (PC, MAC),
- RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Soaked! (PC, MAC),
- RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Platinum (PC, MAC),
- World of RollerCoaster Tycoon (PC),
- RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Wild! (PC),
- RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Gold (PC),
- RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 Combo Pack (PC),
- RollerCoaster Tycoon 2: Time Twister (PC),
- RollerCoaster Tycoon 2: Triple Thrill Pack (PC)
- Number of Players: