Not only is Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 the best game in the series, it is quite possibly the best game in its genre.

User Rating: 9.2 | RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 PC
The original Rollercoaster Tycoon was an opiate for the masses: charming, addictive, entertaining, and enormously popular. Its follow-up, the disappointing expansion-masquerading-as-a-sequel Rollercoaster Tycoon 2, retained all of the gameplay but enhanced very little, and its lackluster retail expansions were barely worth purchasing. Now, Chris Sawyer’s design has gone 3D, and the result is nothing short of brilliant. Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 retains all of the fun and appeal of the first title while serving as a wishlist for longtime fans clamoring for more features. Frontier’s title is an instant classic and possibly the best Tycoon/sandbox game ever produced. Like its predecessors, RCT3 puts the player in control of a piece of real estate and provides the tools with which to turn it into a theme park masterpiece. The main gameplay is the campaign mode, which gives the player parks in various states of build and a variety of goals to achieve, such as a particular park rating in a specific period of time. For those that complained that the original’s goals were too easy to meet, the new missions have several different tiers of success, so that beginners can enjoy a simple, satisfying early achievement, while more advanced economic simmers can push to make “entrepreneur” status. “Sandbox” mode is the other form of play, giving players unlimited funds to create the park of their dreams. If you’re saying to yourself “it’s about time,” you aren’t alone: this is the first time this feature has been implemented in the series, and it increases the game’s already practically unlimited replayability a thousand-fold. Filling out your park with coasters, rides, buildings, decorations, and other attractions is the meat of the gameplay itself, and it works much the same way as before. The building portion of Rollercoaster Tycoon was never broken, and Frontier wisely chose not to “fix” it. Placing buildings in your park is as easy as ever, and the collection of buildings – and themes - is interesting and varied. In addition to your usual burger kiosks and drink stands, you have ATM machines, medical stations and more, and they all play a part in the park’s economic progress, as well as the happiness of your guests. You also have a healthy number of thematic buildings and decorations, and the corresponding foliage to match. Don’t like the offerings built into the game? That’s fine – just use the built-in editor to create and manage your own structures, choosing from different colors and textures to suit your needs. Laying paths works as before too, although there is a greater variety of textures and queues at your disposal, and the terrain tool is as simple as a sweep of the mouse. But what fun is it without the rides and coasters? It’s even more entertaining than ever: there are more attractions (finally, a Zipper!) this time around, and while you can still choose from a decent collection of pre-designed rides, creating your own coasters is the best part of the creation element, and Frontier has done a fantastic job of making it easy without removing the wealth of options at your disposal. While laying your tracks is pretty simple, making a coaster intense enough to please your visitors while not alienating the meeker ones can be a challenge. The coaster constructor now includes an additional option: auto-complete. If you have developed a huge portion of track but aren’t sure how to connect the ends, auto-complete will offer a potential solution (although it can sometimes take a short while if your coaster has meandered significantly). Also handy is the coaster designer, which lets you create rides outside of the game proper for importing into scenarios or uploading for others to use. Thrillingly, you are no longer stuck observing the events from the sidelines. Jump into any ride, and from a few different positions (nose, front seat, rear seat), experience your creation first-hand. While experiencing a few rides is a little underwhelming because they lack the physical power and gravity that provide the excitement, the coasters and most thrill rides are a blast to ride, and doing so never gets old. Rides are more customizable than ever, with a variety of hues to fit your design scheme and color theme. On top of the rides, you now also have “ride events,” such as water splashes or animatronic sharks, to spice up the experience, and even more significantly, you can now create beautiful, complex fireworks displays. Use the built-in music, or import your own, to give sonic cues for beautiful, fascinating creations as personalized as the rides themselves. There are over a dozen different types of explosions available delivered from four different mortar configurations, and you can alter the colors to any hue you wish for each firework. The interface for these displays is as simple as that of the rest of the game, and creating them is a game all into itself. The economy has been significantly deepened for those into this aspect of their Tycoonery. Not only can prices be set for individual items, but you can choose to have these items enhanced (such as adding a lemon wedge to your soda), and even decide how fully to implement the enhancements (such as how much ice to add to your drinks.) Unlockables and researched items now includes these additions, but as before, you can set research priorities to concentrate on aspects of your project that interest you – or that help your current goals accordingly. Even the advertising campaigns have deepened, and you can choose various media that fit your budget; television, radio, and even different types of newspapers (campus papers, regional papers, national papers) can carry your message to potential customers. You can also set up VIP visits to help increase your ratings, but you need to be careful to give a good impression; as we all know, word of mouth spreads quickly from the lips of a celeb. Just because you build doesn’t mean they come, so you still have to pay attention to your customers, who now travel in groups. The individuals interact accordingly with each other, kissing, talking, and in fact, their thoughts now run a broader gamut. You can’t sort their thoughts as you could before, which means you can’t necessarily tell at a glance what it is that’s keeping guest happiness at current levels, but looking at a few groups should make things clear. Families make managing customer happiness a little more challenging, since a park with a lot of kids means you have to concentrate on their needs and shy away from the huge hypercoasters, while a teen infestation makes getting those coasters up paramount. You even have to worry about the happiness of your workers, who now have feelings of their very own. Let them perform any action available to them, and they will love the variety of their tasks. Force them to clean up puke every day, or expect them to do too much, and they will let you know. The new, fully 3D camera is a work of art, and you can zoom in as far as need be, or all the way out to see your entire park. The game will default to an easy-to-use isometric view when you aren’t tilting the camera, making it a snap to reset your view. There is a lot of detail that you can’t afford to miss: watch the vendor at an ice cream stand reach to get his treats and hand them to his customer, or zoom into your guests as they hold their stomachs in nauseous agony after a particularly exhaustive coaster trek. The day/night cycle is very effective, and water reflects the environment beautifully – even the flocks of birds that occasionally fly overhead. The rides themselves are colorful, with realistic, fluid movement, and have a palpable sense of physics and dimension. It’s the lighting of the rides and gorgeous particle effects of the fireworks that steal the show, however, and the nighttime displays are always stimulating. At higher settings, the framerate tends to dip, particularly when the game is paused, but this is a minor infraction; Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 looks terrific. The sound is still as good as you will recall from the prior games, although the music has moved from the “roadside carnival feel” to a “corporate theme park” feel, with more reliance on rock music and ambient smooth classical melodies than the tinkling of a carillon. Your guests still have a great time, and the screams of your fellow riders when you are in the coaster-cam still manage to surprise us. Zooming in close to an attraction reveals a wealth of small details, whether it be the creak of an opening funhouse door or the closing of the Enterprise’s cages. Anyone with an interest in strategy/sim games should not hesitate to pick up Frontier's new modern classic. Not only is it the best game in the series, it is quite possibly the best game in its genre. Beautiful to look at, enormously entertaining, and never boring, players should prepare to lose hundreds of hours to the best theme park title ever created. Its feature list reads like a coaster enthusiast’s dream, and economic simmers and casual players alike will thrill at the easygoing depth found in all its facets. Our recommendation is simple and enthusiastic: buy Rollercoaster Tycoon 3.

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