Review by Croco

"Amazing Attention to Detail"

Tell me, which one of you hasn't had the dream of running a huge amusement park? Why, when I was a wee lad, I spent hours planning the layout of my future parks. Of course, at that time, I figured that I'd be a billionaire, so money wasn't really an issue. Now that I barely have enough money to buy a game like this, I must turn to the world of video games to fulfill my wondrous fantasies.

Roller Coaster Tycoon's detail is amazing. Basically anything visibly in the park you can control, like where hills are, where a lake is, what types of scenery you want, where your rides are situated, and even where benches and trash cans go. The detail doesn't stop here, though. For each ride, you get tons of options such as the price to ride, the name, how often your mechanics check up on it, and even the color. What else is under your control? Well, for example, say you hire a new janitor. You can assign him to clean up trash (and the common patch of puke), or you can make him a gardener and have him mow lawns and water flowerbeds. You can choose where he'll patrol, or just have him wander the park. The amount of options available is staggering, and even more stunning is the ability to keep track of everything with detailed charts, graphs, and menus.

Of course, the rides and attractions of the amusement parks are the main thing. Roller Coaster Tycoon doesn't just have a few of the general types of rides, but they have tons of things to choose from, including common and not-so-common types of rides. And then of course, the roller coasters. There are many types of coasters, and you get to plot out the exact course they take.

Instead of starting from scratch and building like in SimCity and some other simulations, RCT is made up of 21 scenarios. Each has a goal and a given time period in which to complete the goal. Of course, each of the scenarios is situated on different types of land of different proportions, with certain rides available. After you complete (or fail) and objective, you can continue to build your park to your heart's content.

GRAPHICS: 7.25
Your basic overhead graphics. Nothing special at all, it actually takes a step back in graphics (even when it was released). However, they get the job done, and there's enough detail in the environments and ride to make looking at your park pleasurable. The characters, though tiny, express emotions, from jumping up and down with glee to holding their mouth before barfing. Sometimes objects intersect with one another, causing something to appear where it shouldn't. There are four different angles in which you can view your park, and you can make certain objects/rides transparent so you can get a better view of things.

PLAY CONTROL: 8.5
The cursor speed is just fine, and navigating the many menus isn't hard at all. Sometimes selecting a specific character is a bit difficult, but then again they're usually crowded in amongst others.

SOUND: 8.75
The sound effects are quite good. You can hear everything that goes on in the park, including people talking, roller coaster chains pulling a car up a hill, screams of terrified guests, and balloons that were let go of popping. While there is no set music, a few of the rides have music themselves. This suits the amusement park atmosphere very well.

STORY: N/A
Basically, you're the owner of an amusement park. Not really any story, and because this game is a simulation, this category is not graded.

INNOVATION: 9.0
I've never seen a game like this, with such incredible detail and attention given to all aspects of the park. Definitely a pioneer in its style, even if there have been other theme park games before it.

LENGTH: 8.0
There are a good number of scenarios to play, and seeing how each will give you around 5-10 hours of play each, you're in for some serious time-consuming play if you want to complete all 21. However, the problem is that it doesn't stay interesting very long. At first you'll want to continue to play to see the new landscapes and ride types, but after you've seen most of them, going on to the next scenario isn't very interesting (especially when it means leaving the old park you've worked so hard on behind and starting with nothing). They're all very similar, in both appearance and the objectives. None are incredibly difficult, though a few tend to be more troublesome than others.

REPLAY VALUE: 8.75
The good thing is, even though you'll probably get bored of making parks, you'll be coming back for more later. Every couple months or so I get a craving to play this game again, and when I sit down and do play it again, all the fun I had before comes back.

ENTERTAINMENT: 9.5
This game is loads of fun to play. Whenever I play it, the hours just fly by. Very few games will require so much attention, and few games will give you so much fun out of it. It's easy to build stuff and succeeding gives you a great feeling. It does takes a while to learn how to properly run and create a park, but that makes the experience all the better. There are a few annoyances, but nothing major. Incredibly addicting.

OVERALL: 8.75
Precise Score: 8.70833

All-in-all, RCT is a very good game. Most of the areas leave a little to be desired, but it's not a problem. When you get this into a game, you won't be thinking about how the graphics could be better or how you've already built this same Ferris wheel 50 times before in a different park. I haven't played Sim Theme Park, the biggest rival to RCT, but from what I've heard, you basically trade some of the details for nice 3-D graphics. Of course, I would much rather have details any day.

PROS:
- Tons of options, it seems nothing was left out. You can build stuff underground, shape the land how you like, or make rides one on top of another. Talk about freedom!
- Plenty of ride and attraction types will make for varied parks.
- Some of the rides, particularly roller coasters, can be customized to your liking, with things such as loops, corkscrews, and on-ride photos.

CONS:
- Building great roller coasters can sometimes be very annoying, as the best of your creations may very well be too intense for the poor people. It makes sense and makes you build better coasters, but annoying nonetheless.
- Deaths. People can actually die in your park, and when they do, everyone stays away from that ride (and sometimes your park altogether). This is really annoying if your favorite roller coaster is basically thrown out the window because of some deaths (luckily, with some quick thinking deaths can be prevented).
- Park Maintenance can become very troublesome. After rides become a few months old, they start to break down every week or so. Also, patrons tend to love to litter and barf on your beautiful paths, and your janitors never seem to clean it up quickly.

I recommend purchasing this game. The fun and addiction is brings is an experience you can't miss. This game also has two expansion sets, Corkscrew Follies (with more rides) and Loopy Landscapes (with more land types). Each has a bunch of new scenarios, and are relatively inexpensive (around $20-$30).


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/17/01, Updated 02/17/01


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