The Rollercoaster Tycoon series has been around for sometime, so why should we drop everything and rush out and buy this game? The simple answer is depth. While Atari, the games makers haven’t been pumping out expansion packs left, right and centre like some you can see where the time has been spent with this latest version.
The depth of the game is phenomenal, and the macro-management element at times slightly overwhelming. The game still follows in the same principles as the first two outings; you build a park, they will come and the bigger you get and the more money you earn the more chance you have of buying and building bigger rides. Just like the previous instalment the emphasis is still on the rollercoasters, after all that’s the name of the game, and you still get the choice to either build them yourself or choose from the number of pre-designed models waiting to be plonked straight on the map.
Aside from rides the level of involvement is huge, you can for example build a hamburger stand and not only chose how much you want to charge for the hamburgers that stand makes but also the fillings - all from a game that isn’t about food.
Other levels of detail include management of staff, what costumes they wear, how the scenery looks, what the landscape terrain is like, how the rides perform, even how fast they go and best of all your very own firework displays where you can compose your own sequence of events.
With the introduction of fireworks, comes a 24-hour time frame so when darkness falls, visitors to your park can be attracted by light shows, circus evens or the already mentioned fireworks.
Aside from all the detail, the game still offers the four basic areas; Scenario, Sandbox, Tutorial, and Career. The Scenario offers tasks or parameters you have to meet to complete it, normally involving getting a set number of visitors or ascertaining a park value in a set time. The Career mode is the same only that you progress on to bigger and better things with every level you complete. For those completely new to the series the game offers two useful areas, Tutorial and Sandbox. Tutorial is self-explanatory while the Sandbox gives you an empty theme park and unlimited cash so you can practice to your heart’s content. It’s a nice addition and one that will stop users simply turning to the cheat modes.
Graphics too have been heavily updated and the interface has been improved. Both are considerable better than the last instalment and you can now ride the rollercoasters and other rides to see what they offer to the visitor first hand.
Great graphics and enormous depth are the two main things going for this game and if you're a sim management fan, of theme parks or not this game will keep you going for months. Our only complaint is with the building of paths around your theme park. Some of the rollercoasters get so confusing that trying to get a path to them especially when they are raised was near impossible. Its not necessarily working out the path to take, it's convincing the software of your preferred location. Qualms aside, this is a vast improvement on the previous version and is a must have if you are a simulation fan.