Review by RockyRan

"The first true sequel to the RollerCoaster Tycoon series"

Just a few years after the original RollerCoaster tycoon game was released, the sequel, appropriately dubbed RollerCoaster Tycoon 2, was launched to the eager masses. Unfortunately, the game proved to be of little difference between it and its predecessor, and the only changes it boasted were considered to be badly executed. This third game in the series was released in also just a few years, boasting to fix and add to the game in ways the series had previously never done before. Does the final product measure up to the original's endeavor?

The answer to that would be a resounding "yes". Not only did RCT3 manage to fix what was broken with its predecessor, but it also managed to add an insane amount of features and new content that was previously unlikely to be added.
The basic gameplay still follows the same formula in the same execution. Being the manager of a large or small amusement park, the player places scenery, builds structures, rides and shops, hires staff and manages practically anything that can be conceived within the park. The main improvement with this formula is that it expands the game's depth exponentially.
For instance, guests are no longer secluded, genderless and without age. Now, they can be male or female children, teens or adults, traveling in groups as a family, a group of kids that hang out or a romantic date, each having their own needs and boasting new levels of traits such as "sunburn".
Other examples include adding more than one item to each store and deciding their prices and toppings if the items are edible, more depth to staff members such as "laziness", happiness and thoughts, a new day/night mode, a sandbox mode, extensive tools such as a much-improved scenario editor, a "peep" (the new name for guests) creator, a new 3D perspective, a building editor, a new fireworks system, a new terrain system, etc., etc., etc.
In short, the amount of additions to the game are absolutely staggering, and the best part is that barely any of them feel "tacked-on" or hardly developed. Every new feature feels fresh and adding to the experience, raising up the gameplay to a completely new level that could never be achieved with the previous games in the series.

The graphics of the game are quite inconsistent, but for a very good reason. It's not long before your park has hundreds or even thousands of little guests running around, with dozens of rides and rollercoasters zipping by your park at the same time. Thus, it's quite understandable as to why the textures are not detailed or why the polygon count in the guests and staff isn't that high. Besides, the majority of the time will be spent zoomed out, easily 30-150 feet from the ground, so the lack of detail is not noticeable unless the player zooms in more than necessary.
Aside from that, the graphics are quite manageable, and even tend to impress a little. Some of the lighting effects and reflection/refraction of water looks gorgeous. Rotate the camera and you'll see the sun striking and reflecting out of the roof of a custom building you've just made, or watch as the day comes to a close and the sky shines a red-orange tint while the shadows of the rides and guests grows ever larger. Pretty soon the player will come to appreciate the time and effort some of these effects have had put into them. In a nutshell, the detail level is lower up close (to prevent massive slowdowns) while the game can truly be appreciated when zoomed outwards at a normal level.

The sound of the game has taken a huge step upwards, providing the player with an increased sense of realism and drawing in the player to the environment, which is especially prominent when using the "coaster cam" feature. In this feature, the player can hear the deep, perpetual sound of the coaster wheels meeting metal, zooming by crowds on land and other rides and hearing their cheerful chatter for a split second before being hoisted away, the screaming sounds of your guests on the same roller coaster as you loud and clear as your coaster flies downward, gaining speed in the process. The entire experience is extremely realistic, and most of it due to the high quality of the sound. Kudos to Frontier for developing a top-notch sound system.
On the other hand, I can't say the music has taken a step upwards, but rather a step to the side. The songs in this game certainly have a lot different a feel to them, mixing tunes with electric guitars, ethnic percussion while other songs boast high-speed electronic music pumping along with ambient sounds. The music is still very high quality and well-made, but it has a very different feel from those songs in the previous Roller Coaster Tycoon titles. Some find the change to be better, some to be worse, but I find it to be just different.

Overall, the game is a HUGE leap in the right direction. It boasts a large amount of additions that add to the depth of the game by a huge amount, fixes the issues that were presented with the previous title and changed enough things to keep the game fresh while preserving the basic gameplay to keep it familiar for us veterans to the series. The only complaint, that I have with the game is that the parks feel a lot smaller than on the previous games and the amount and difficulty of the pre-set scenarios has decreased a lot. Thankfully, the improved scenario editor allows for the creation of new scenarios that has been facilitated from the editor from RCT2. If you enjoyed the previous titles in the least bit, I highly recommend giving this one a try. It's a huge improvement that delivers on every aspect of the previous games.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/06/07

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