Review by ND9k

"A marginal improvement over the original."

Released in 2002, RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 was supposed to greatly improve the game engine of the original sleeper hit, RollerCoaster Tycoon. I feel that this goal was met, although with only marginal success.

The biggest improvement to the game engine comes in the form of AI. The "peeps," or guests, are considerably smarter than they were in the original RCT. They now actually use the bathrooms and trash cans, and can understand the concept of a wide footpath. This makes the design of your park much more intuitive, as you no longer have to worry about peeps getting lost and/or stuck somewhere on your footpaths. Another major improvement was made to the overall realism of the game. Just like in real amusement parks, you can now charge admission for entering the park or the ride themselves, but no for both. This adds a great deal of strategy, as you must figure out the best way to maximize your profits. Adding to the realism is the new categorization of the attractions themselves. Instead of having a generic "Wooden Roller Coaster," as in the original, you can now build several different varieties, including the "Wooden Twister," "Classic" and "Wooden Looping" roller coaster. To be fair, all these variations were present in the original game, but were harder to find. They are far better organized in RCT2.

Surprisingly, RCT2 does very little to improve the graphical engine that was well done in the original. Personally, I don't think that any optimizations were necessary, as the series has been praised for its realistic and yet still simplistic graphical engine. That said, there are a few technical improvements, though. You'll notice that the overall frame rate has improved, as well as the display of shadows and reflected sunlight. In the most basic of terms, I can make a strong assumption that if you liked the graphics in RCT, you will like the graphics in RCT2.

Although the RollerCoaster Tycoon series features no real story or plot, there are numerous "scenarios" that can be tackled at any time. Completing a scenario will unlock new parks to develop, which is a larger incentive than you may initially think. These scenarios are extremely varied, and will involve a myriad of different strategies to be victorious. While some scenarios require a certain number of peeps to visit your park in a certain amount of years, others require you to make a certain amount of profit off a given ride in a set amount of time. Like any other strategy game, the beginning scenarios are fairly easy while the later ones prove more difficult. As you develop your park throughout the years, your research and development team will slowly but surely allow you to access new rides and attractions, from the most gentle merry-go-round to the scariest roller coaster. Unfortunately, completing every scenario that RCT2 has to offer doesn't net you any kind of major prize, but I suppose you will be a true "roller coaster tycoon."

Unlike the original, RCT2 features technical innovations that allow the game to support many expansion packs. Unfortunately, due to lagging sales, RCT2 only had two official expansion packs. Had the game sold better, I'm sure that more would have become available. The expansion packs, as the name would suggest, added to the original game engine by adding new graphics, new rides, new scenarios and other minor improvements.

I find myself agreeing with many others who feel that RCT2 is really just a glorified expansion pack of the original RCT. While I do feel that the "2" is deserved simply from the enhancement of the game engine alone, there also really is not a whole lot added in terms of actual gameplay. Beyond the renaming of several attractions, there actually aren't many new ones. While there are new scenarios, the actual objectives haven't changed much from RCT. Many of the flaws that existed in RCT were not addressed in RCT2, creating the illusion that RCT2 is nothing more than a standalone expansion pack. I must reiterate that RCT2 is a good game in its own right, but compared to the original, there just isn't enough "new" to it, which is why I believe the game deserves only a 70%.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 10/19/02, Updated 11/21/06

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