Review by nazgulpenguin

"Get me off! I don't want to ride anymore!"

I am a fan of the other two installments of the series, but this game is flat out bad. The only redeeming factors that keep this game at 4 instead of 1 is that you can "ride" your rides from the coaster cam, they finally added a sandbox mode, and you can import music and images. Other than that the game is almost unplayable.

If you have played the first two installments, then the first words out of your mouth when the menu screen loads up will be: WTF. The presentation of this game, that is the logos, characters, menu schemes, etc. are totally nonidentical to its predecessors. Instead of the charming calliope and game demos that practically mark the series, although that might be a stretch, you are greeted with crappy weather channel type muzak and poorly drawn anime looking things.

Then theres the game, while in 3-d the graphics are poor. Oh sure everything is rendered well enough, but the art, that is the models and textures, are way way off. Tell me, whats the point of being able to have near photo realistic graphics if all you are going to render with them are ugly, wildly cartoon-ish, and inconsistently themed crap? Sure, the food stalls in the first two looked funny, but we are really stretching things a bit too far in 3.

The menus in the game are vaguely similar from the last 2, in this one instead of the neat Windows like windows, you get confusing circular pop-ups with buttons aligned all along the edge. Hardly any of which actually resemble anything to do with the corresponding menu. You will find yourself frantically clicking all over the little balloons trying to find the right menu to change the price of your very awkwardly shaped hot dog stand so you don't go bankrupt. God forbid these people actually put some words on the menus!

Next is landscaping, you would think that a nice 3-d environment would have an intuitive yet simple landscaping tool that would allow you to take full advantage of said 3-d environment. Wrong. The landscape tool in the originals was simple, you could raise or lower the ground in units, you could do it angular by moving the cursor to the corner of the square, and you could increase the size of the area affected by pressing the + and - buttons on the menu. This is not the case in this game. You have about six different sets of buttons, whose individual function seems to be to frustrate you in new and creative ways. Each button, like the rest of the menus, is labeled only with a cartoon of some sort of oddly shaped green blob with red arrow pointing up or down. Trying to determine in which way the button will frustrate you is like trying to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs without the Rosetta stone. The system has an infinite threshold, meaning instead of raising land in nice simple units, the changes in elevation vary to the micrometer, which makes paving a nightmare. Once you have actually located the "raise land" button you soon realize that by holding down the mouse-button for more than two seconds will cause mount everest to shoot up in the middle of your park, draining money like Canadian hacker in a bank server, and rendering all surrounding paths useless.

So now about that nightmarish paths! Again the creators of this installment have forgone the simplicity of the unit system in height to the one where everything doesn't line up right. Don't even try to have a queue line that follows down a slope, what you end up with, after thirty minutes of frustration, is a four block queue line that breaks of abruptly and gets blocked by the railing of the other pathway, effectively making it impossible to board because the stupid safety rail that stops the guests from falling the all of two and a half inches off the ground also stops them from getting onto the ride! Trying to raise and lower the paths at all is a headache, you have to hold down the right-mouse button while the courser is on the arrow on the path, then move the mouse up or down, nothing will happen until the mouse is already an inch above it, causing the path to jump wildly in the air. For a split second you may think that this means they is unit system after all, but then you realize that after the initial 45 degrees you can adjust the path all over the place up and down but not in the way that would end up most useful to you at the moment. So essentially you end up with the Stairs of Cirith Ungol leading up to your elevated monorail station. If you have been playing this long you probably will either want to have Shelob come out and bite you in the face, or are already missing a number of braincells comparable to the amount that would be lost if spider venom was poured directly in your brain, in which case you are probably having fun.

Should you attempt to build a roller coaster on this game, you will soon find that the menu for doing so is just as unhelpful with its smug while totally unintuitive cartoons. For example, when you want to have chain lift on, you might click on the chain-lift button. After searching for a while you will finally find it, and see that it is grayed out at the time, making it difficult to find, then clicking it it will be in color, later causing you to have short term memory loss and will see the now normal-ish looking chain lift button thinking that it is not on, you will click it, expecting it to highlight with a nice little yellow aura like a normal game might do, but instead it will disappear, and gray out again, making it hard to find again when you realize the mistake you made. This is the only game I know of that camouflages its buttons from its users.

Believe it or not there are still other bugs I found in this game that I still have not mentioned yet, and thats only in less than four hours of play time. I haven't even tried out all the features yet, such as trying to import songs or making fireworks displays, but I don't see the point in trying. When a simple thing like leveling out a hillside and putting in a food court makes you tear your hair out, I don't see any hope for the rest of the game. What I was hoping for in this game was the chance to make realistic theme parks with the look and feel of real ones, using a simple yet powerful interface in a 3-d environment and with the overall feel of the classic Roller Coaster Tycoon series. Instead I got a stress related aneurysm and swirling color induced epileptic seizure(Metaphorically of course).

Bottom line: Unless you want to feel the urge to ride up the nearest roller coaster and throw your computer off of it, I suggest you stick with Roller Coaster Tycoon 2: Triple Thrill Pack.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Originally Posted: 03/06/06

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