Review by nastynate3118

Reviewed: 02/02/12

Here we go, enjoy your ride.


RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 marks a big transition for the franchise. RCT2 was all about fixing the problems with original and expanding on the same concept and retaining the same style and look. RCT3 parts ways with the look of the first two games by having a different developer and a brand new look. Many ideas from the first two games are brought back in RCT3, but a significant upgrade in graphics and customization is offered and the developers try to modernize the series. With all of their changes, there are mixed results in the end.

Gameplay -5 /10

The gameplay at its core is pretty strong but is bogged down by too many errors and silly annoyances that occur throughout the game. One problem up front is the learning curve is rather steep. There are tutorials available that are certainly helpful, but are not nearly exhaustive in terms of how complex this game is. Building roller coasters is also pretty challenging and takes a lot of practice if you want to become proficient at it. I just stick to the premade roller coasters and bypass the time needed to learn how to perfect a coaster (as you’ll read later, you will dedicate quite a bit of time to this game).

As mentioned before, the game has scenarios in which you have to build a theme park and fulfill certain objectives. RCT3 introduces three sets of objectives, with the Tycoon objectives being the most difficult to obtain. There really isn’t much variety or challenge to these scenarios and as a result the game becomes very repetitive with the scenarios. Once you figure out the perfect price for each ride/shop/pool/viewing gallery, you can easily exploit that and make a ton of money. The difficulty is also pretty erratic; some early scenarios in the normal RCT3 scenarios are much harder than later scenarios. Within them, there rarely is much expansion with the Tycoon objectives vs. the other objectives, making them rather extraneous.

The gameplay also presents a few annoyances. The most basic of which begins with building paths. On some scenarios with strange terrain the controls for building paths become erratic and unresponsive and the game simply does not want to cooperate. It takes some getting used to when it comes to building them, but if your park is large and there is a lot going on, building paths becomes a nightmare.

Speaking of a lot of things going on, the lag in this game is pretty awful if your park becomes busy. Moving the camera around becomes a hassle as everything slows to a crawl and moves in slow motion. When you try and build a large premade roller coaster with a busy park, the game will lag so much that it will act as it was frozen. This is not an issue when you first start a park or scenario, but as it goes on and grows the game suffers a drastic slowdown.

The last problem to address is the camera controls. Zooming in can be a pain due to the lag, and sometimes the game will do an extreme close-up of an area because you kept trying to zoom in during the lag. The same problem occurs when zooming out. The camera also can become erratic if you are trying to rotate it and the park is busy, yet another problem caused by the lag.

On a positive note, this game is unrivaled in terms of how much customization control you have. You can add music to your rides and change their colors, control certain operational features of them and regulate prices. If you can master the tool with building structures you can have even more control over your park. The scenarios in which you have to improve a badly run/managed park are also a blast to play but sadly are in the minority in terms of scenario types.

Interface- 6/10

The interface in this game is wacky at times. For starters, like any simulation game it helps to memorize the hot keys because moving around the various menus and opening the various windows to select things becomes a big clustered mess. The problem is with the many windows is not as bad as it was in earlier RCT games but it still clutters your screen and looks messy. Get ready to wear out your mouse with the tons of clicking you will have to do to deal with all of the menu options and windows.

If you play this game, make sure you take a look at the tutorials because the organization of the menus and various options can be confusing and overwhelming at first. It is pretty neat that the game gives you an incredible amount of control over the park, but the layout of the various options can be a bit oblique at first.

Finally, a major interface annoyance comes whenever you complete a scenario. The game will inform you that “a new coaster design is available” but neglects to tell you exactly what you unlocked or give you any hint to try and find it. There are tons of roller coaster design types (which is a good thing) but the fact that you have to rifle through every single type of roller coaster and see which you design you unlocked is a bit ridiculous.

Story- 8/10

Obviously there really isn’t much of a story involved in the process of building theme parks, but the game does make a notable effort to have little blurbs for each scenario that are often humorous in their presentation. The objectives often relate to each little mini-story behind each scenario. The only issue I have is that there is no follow-up for completing a scenario in relation to the little presentation paragraph that appears when you select a scenario. Further, there is no ending at all or even a “congratulations” after you complete every scenario in the game, which is a bit disappointing.

Graphics - 7/10

The graphics in this game are average. The parks and landscape are extremely detailed and really bring life to the game. The coaster designs are extremely detailed as are the flat rides. The game suffers when it comes to the “peeps” who walk around in your park. They look pretty deformed and not proportional. They seem to always be smiling no matter what and have really ugly faces and bodies. A great attention was given to their clothes but they still look like mutants.

Another graphical error occurs whenever you zoom out or you have a lot of rides in your park. The game will not load the graphics properly for your rollercoasters in the distance and it will look like they are incomplete. This graphical loading error shows some of the weaknesses with the game’s engine that could have been fixed ahead of time.

Sound/Music - 9/10

Surprisingly, the music in this game is actually pretty good. There is a large variety that you can use for your rides and fit the various theming styles in the game. Random tracks will also play during the main menu screens. The songs are very catchy and are fun to listen to. The only issue I have is with the normal music that plays if you zoom out from your park. It is a generic elevator-type song that is extremely repetitive and a bore to listen to compared to the rest of the music in the game.

The sound effects are also really good. The game goes into great detail with crowd noises, the sound of lift chains on roller coasters and other sound effects that really bring the game to life.

Play Time/Replayability - 9/10

If you plan on completing every scenario and getting Tycoon status on them, this game will keep you occupied for a very long time. It took me nearly 48 hours to accomplish that task, which seems a bit excessive. On a plus side, the game does have a very fun sandbox mode with every kind of roller coaster and theming available. That will keep you busy for a very long while and offers a huge replayability factor for the game.

-Tutorials are helpful (though not exhaustive enough)
-Large variety of premade roller coasters
-Tons of customization available
-Some scenarios are very fun, especially ones where you have to fix a bad park
-Story is presented with short paragraphs before each scenario (though not followed up on)
-Graphics for rides and environment look great
-Soundtrack is surprisingly really good
-Sandbox mode offers a tremendous amount of replay value

-Steep learning curve
-Scenarios are repetitive with erratic levels of difficulty
-Lag causes significant slowdown with the game and affects the camera and graphics
-Interface is clustered and the game does not tell you what you are unlocking
-Peeps are deformed-looking
-“Zoom out” music is extremely repetitive

Final Recommendation

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Platinum is the culmination of how far the series has come. During the modernization of the franchise, some of the original charm was left by the wayside. There is plenty of room for improvement with this game, but if you are interested in simulation games especially dealing with theme parks then this game is certainly worth playing.

Final Score: 6.67/10 rounded to 7/10

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Platinum! (US, 11/08/06)

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