Review by Samuelmorris

"An Outstanding game, but how do you better the original?"

The original RollerCoaster Tycoon really was an epic title, which brought shame to any prior attempts at an amusement park simulation, and despite the relatively low input to the game's basic structure, right through to Time Twister the game had a magical quality that just kept you playing for hours and hours on end.
There's no doubt about it, RCT3 looks, sounds and plays fantastic. However, I must admit that in the transition to Full 3D, that certain something has been lost, and instead of it being, well just being RCT really, the third release of Chris Sawyer's classic title is a good game, but nothing more, just a good game. It may have something to do with the dropping of the classic Microprose interface first introduced 10 years before in Transport tycoon that just had a 'pick up and play' notion about it. You could teach yourself the game by scrolling through the menus. With RCT3, I was lost without consulting the tutorials. The basic construction of rides and paths is OK, but advanced work really needs some thinking.

The Graphics in RCT3 are unparalleled for a game of this type, and are an incredible leap from RCT2, with rich varied texture faces on individual guests, and watching a custom-made fireworks display at night with all the lighting and shaders involved really is a pleasurable experience. To be fair, bar the steep increase in graphical system requirements, you can't fault the game graphically at all. That said, to enjoy the 'mega parks' people used to make in RCT1 & 2, with enormous abundances of scenery is overtaxing even for a 256MB X800 Graphics card, which cost 12 times as much as the game. This is the only graphical problem I see with RCT3. In order to experience the biggest parks with big rides, big scenery and lots of guests at night, You need one mother of a computer, and this is in complete contrast to the original games. RCT1 would even run on a 486. This game just about runs on a modern laptop. 9/10

As for audio, again it's good, the screams are, as always, convincing, and now screams are produced on a per-guest basis not per-train, so you don't find 2 people going along on a wild mouse and the sound of a whole train's worth of people screaming. The firework sounds, although limited in number, are also convincing, as are water effects, with the exception of the dinghy slide, which sounds like a roller coaster. Never mind, the rest is great. 9/10

In terms of gameplay, there are hundreds and hundreds of tools and features to keep you occupied and you can do pretty much anything. That said, until you install an expansion, there is no capability for tunnel building, which is an unfortunate waste of the game's graphical prowess. The interface for building is well structured and organised, and everything fits into place quite well. The camera is very good. and the coastercam feature really is first class. Trouble is, it isn't RCT1 any more! 9/10

Replay value for RCT3 looks promising, with lots of room for expansion with custom buildings, rides, tracks, scenery, the works. But there are only so many workbenches you want to build, and although there are lots of scenarios, you'd want more. 8/10

For the fun factor, I really do enjoy playing RCT3, when the frame rate is above 20 (:D) and I think it's a worthy successor to the original games. What is lost in gameplay is made up for in graphics, sounds and just awesome experience overall.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/23/06


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