Review by ZGR115

"Great visuals, but a ton of bugs ruins the gameplay."

Well, here we have it. The third installment of this great series. Personally, I believe that the previous two were ... better.

Graphics 9/10
The obvious change is that it is now in full 3D instead of isometric 2D for the previous two. The 3D graphics are fantastic. The camera is now directly controlled with the mouse and keyboard buttons. The camera can zoom in/out, rotate, whatever. This ability to view your park from any angle enhances the gameplay. The graphical detail is stunning. Each guest in your park has facial expressions and all their body parts move. The water reflections are spectacular. The scenery is beautifully imaginative. The only problem is that all these graphics require a hefty amount of RAM and a fairly decent video card (ATI Radeons are the best). Sure, you can select the level of detail in the graphics to match the quality of your video card, but this doesn't always help. The game can still lag under Low detail.

Gameplay 5/10
You're building an amusement park. There is a ton of stuff to look at and do., so you'll have to micromanage. You can add cheese to the hot dogs you sell or a lemon slice to your sodas. You can change each employee's salary individually. Everyone will have to micromanage eventually. The thing is, micromanaging can be fun for some people, or just annoying for others. Micromanaging takes away time from building coasters and riding them.

Another key addition is the ability to ride your own coasters. (Hmm... SimTheme Park anyone?) This will make it more, well, fun. The "Coastercam" is terrific. It adds some good value to the whole game.

Now to get into the picky little details. First, landscape editing. A new feature is the landscape editor. This tool is very good if you want beautiful rolling hills, a volcanic island, or jagged cliffs. It lets you create some awe-inspiring terrains. The hard and most frustrating part is building on these terrains. In the previous two games, each square of land had a very specific height, or level. Now, this beautiful landscape you have just created is round here, low here, pointy there. Each grid square is meaningless. Now to build on these, you'll have to flatten out some land. Or else, paths will become disconnected, building coasters will be limited in space, and you won't even be building on the land, but rather over it.

Another horrible little bug is the paths. Building paths was much simpler in the previous two games. Again, each path square had a specific level to indicate how high up it was. Now, however, paths can tilt and bend and slope when the land is not perfectly flat. This well cause the paths to get disconnected and your peeps utterly confused. Also, the heght of the paths is now too specific. In the previous two games, if the path wasn't connected, you could obviusly see it. In Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, if the paths are disconnected, they may only be by a few inches, and unless you zoom all the way in and squint your eyes, you won't be able to see it.

There are a multitude of bugs in this game, way too many to list here. Some of them can be fixed by installing the retail patch that was released when the game came out, but other bugs still ruin the game.

Some good parts of gameplay: Coaster building is a fun and challenging process. The sandbox mode allows you do build a park with infinite money. The scenario editor lets you create your own crazy ... scenarios and share them over the web.

Sound 5/10
Sound is nothing special at all. The repetitive music gets real boring after a while and your peeps screaming can get... annoying.

Overall 6/10
I didn't play this game for long. All those bugs killed an otherwise good game. It became more frustrating than fun. The Coastercam, thankfully, does not have any bugs and it is a big part of the value of the game, so you can still play with that. The high level of graphics required some elements to be sacrificed in the gameplay. I'd stay away from this game.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 12/22/04

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