Review by Da_GTA_Masta
"A classic game, but not without its flaws."
It is almost 10 years since this game was originally released so I believe I can give an unbiased overview of this game and address some of the problems that a lot of people in the community have felt.
Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 puts you in the shoes of managing your own theme park from creating giant rollercoasters that span across your park to simply adding scenery in order to improve your parks eye candy. You are in charge of managing your staff, finances and guests happiness.
The manual itself gives a pretty good explanation of the basics but due to this game being less successful than its predecessor, you'll find most copies lack a physical copies and the typical user will miss out on this vital information. Although Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 has an in-game tutorial, it can be confusing to a player as you can 'gain control' and break the tutorial if you press any button. For a new player, this can be confusing as there is no way to resume the tutorial so the game plays out as if you had just started a new game. I'd recommend you buy a strategy guide or look up at some FAQ guides on here if you're new to the series before giving it a try.
In the first Rollercoaster Tycoon, you unlocked new scenarios as you beat the easier one. This gave players a good sense of achievement when beating a certain scenario and when the player had beaten all the scenarios, you were given a surprise. In Rollercoaster Tycoon 2, it has been replaced with a shoddy 'Beginner, Expert, Challenging, Real Parks' tab which allows you to choose what scenarios you want to play right from the start. This ruined for me, any sense of achievement when beating a scenario. When beating all scenarios, you aren't given anything for your efforts. In fact, you wouldn't even want to beat them all as you'll most likely get bored or frustrated at the similar goals and objectives for most of the scenarios. In terms of difficulty, they are much more challenging to beat. It is almost like they expect you to have beaten all the previous games scenarios and progress to these. Was this really a new game or simply an expansion pack that grew too large?
Take Crazy Castle, the first scenario. When first playing you are literally thrown in with a plethora of different rides and stalls to create. Compare this to Forest Frontiers, the first scenario for RCT1. Forest Frontiers: Guests: 250; Rating: 600; Date: October 31, Year 1 Crazy Castle: Guests: 1500 Guests; Rating: 600; Date: October 31 Year 4 A big difference. You are given a ton of different stalls and rides that function exactly the same as each other. With all these options, it is easy to see how a new player can get so overwhelmed. It also seems like in a vain attempt to try to milk some more money out of this game he included various Six Flag parks recreations within the game. Although this game be fun to view at first, they soon get very boring to play. This moves me to another problem, the rides and stalls.
It seems like Chris Sawyers imagination has run dry. Most of the rides produced in this expansions are simply rehashes of older rides with a new look. There are only a handful of newly animated rides that actually stand out from the rest. The shops are the worst offender in this apartment from offering simple snacks like Donuts to crazy Korean tea that no-one on this side of the world has heard of. Most of these are simply cosmetic and you'll find yourself using the regular shops from RCT1 as they often still have the larger profit margins than the more strange ones.
Onto a more positive point, Sawyer has given the fans a wide choice of scenery to use in your parks. From Dinosaur themes to Pirate themes, you can create imaginative rides that also affect the rides excitement ratings. He has also given us simple things such as walls and roofs, allowing you as a player to recreate real-life theme parks. He has also listened to the fans and given us a Rollercoaster Designer and a Scenario Editor. Although these seem great at first, there are limitations on the amount of ride types and scenery types you can have in your park. Personally I believe these features would've been a reward for beating scenarios and give players more of a reason to try to complete the game.
Onto the graphical area, not much as changed. It uses the same isometric perspective engine as the previous game but includes small number of improvements. A lot of the models are quite detailed but some of them are severely lacking in areas. The engine is dated, yes, but it also works extremely well. It is a colourful game and would appeal even to new players today. Later on, RCT3 used a 3D engine that disappointed many fans and was generally poorly received. 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it!'
Even today a small fan base still exists for this game and the original. You can download many fan-made scenery and rides that you can use within your park. These expand on the choices you have as a park owner and allow you to create magnificent parks to share with the community. There are still some active forums which hold competitions for the best looking parks and best rollercoaster designs. This makes you start to think whether Sawyer wanted this to be a game or a mere design tool?
Overall, the game feels more like an expansion pack than an actual sequel. It presents the same addictive gameplay as the first but doesn't expand enough to prove an entirely new game. It seems like Sawyer originally planned this to be an expansion but it grew too large. After playing Rollercoaster Tycoon for over 10 years, I'd recommend any new players to play the original before venturing into the sequels. You'll get the addictive gameplay with less confusing extras padded round the side. Perhaps Chris Sawyer spent too much time developing his other game Locomotion -- the sequel to his earlier Transport tycoon -- to actually creating a proper sequel.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 03/12/12
Game Release: RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 (EU, 10/18/02)
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