"Very enjoyable, but could have used some touch-ups"

Introduction: Rollercoaster Tycoon is a port for the Xbox from PC. It is a real-time strategy, where you are the owner of a piece of land, and your job is to turn it into a thriving theme park. You have bank loans, a staff, and a plethora of ride designs at your disposal.

Gameplay, 9/10: Although I know this kind of game isn't for everyone, the experience for me was great. The numerous different scenarios, challenges, etc. are great to counter-act some of the boredom that could result from periods of doing nothing. There are really only two times when you'll be doing nothing, though:
-when you're completely finished with a park, and
-when you're out of money, and are waiting to make enough to build something

When you first play this, you most probably will be very confused with the controls and might not like your first impression of it, due to the graphics and annoying sounds. Stick with it, though, or turn down your volume, or you'll be missing out on some great gameplay. The learning curve of the controls isn't too long, but maybe for your first two parks, you'll still be learning. It's mainly trial and error, or right-off-the-bat-memorization. You'll need to know all the controls to play the game effectively (this may seem obvious, but think about some games you're good at, and realize that there are some buttons you rarely use).

As far as maintaining the park goes, that's a never-ending experience. You deal with rain, ride safety, ticket prices, ride prices, and more. You need to make as much of a profit as you can, and so you have to balance the ticket prices with the ride prices, the safety of the rides (so the customers will want to ride them), how popular a ride will be when it's raining, staff support (to clean the vomit, fix the rides, and prevent broken benches). Maintaining the park is what will keep you glued to the game, as the involvement level is enormous. You can do just about anything with the park you want.

The game is challenging in several different ways. The creation of good rollercoasters will probably be difficult at first, but you'll get used to what makes one good, and soon you should eventually be able to build an above average rollercoaster on almost any amount or type of land. For ticket prices, this is fairly straightforward. If you have a fairly large park, you can change them, monitor the reaction for about two minutes, and then fix any problems you saw in that time. If you've played Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 (for PC) before, though, you'll probably find income pretty easy to get. In RCT2, you can only change the ticket prices or the admission price, not both. In RCT1, you can change both. This doesn't directly affect the challenge of RCT1, though, until you play and become good at RCT2. Just a note.

And another note: As you begin to realize some of the limits of the gameplay, you'll begin wishing for more, and if you've played RCT2, you realize you can do a lot more (mainly in relation to scenery). If you go into some of the ''real parks'', you may come across some features that, after completing the entire set of original scenarios, I still have yet to figure out how to use (or even if I can use them).

Some scenarios can be very difficult. For the most part, in the original scenarios, you start off with a very simple task, and move on to increasingly more challenging ones. The two expansion packs included with the game are even more difficult, and can help to bring some challenge into a game that you thought you'd mastered.

Story, N/A: This game doesn't have any set story. You can, however, make up your own story, like the story of your park. As you become increasingly larger and more popular, you may sometimes think that you created this out of nothing, and use the story of your park to make a reputation to live up to.

Graphics, 5/10: The graphics, in comparison to the power of the Xbox, are terrible. The people are like little sprites, 2-D animations of pixilated people. The rides are probably the redeeming quality of the graphics, as they aren't too bad. Every ride is plainly obvious what it is, and since you built it, it should look good. The camera is always an overhead shot of the park, from several hundred feet up, so I guess you can't expect everything to look perfect, but some of the objects really should have been sharpened a bit.

Sound, 4/10: I'll just sum it up really quickly: The sounds of everything but people are pretty realistic. The sounds of people and sometimes music from rides can be incredibly annoying. I hope you have a CD player near your Xbox, so you can have sound without having to hear the sound from the game.

Play Time, 7/10: This is the original game for PC, plus its two expansion packs. It will take you quite a while to complete it. It should easily yield enough play time for the price you paid.

Replayability, 3/10: There are some scenarios that are just plain fun. You'll go back to them, maybe several times, to do it again. I can't see how you could find every scenario that fun , though, and so I see why anyone would complete the entire game more than once.

Final Recommendation: If you like strategy games, buy it. It's worth it. If not, give it a try and rent it once. If you absolutely hate strategy games, then, don't rent it, because my word isn't going to sway you. Overall, I say rent it once. You should find out by the end of the rental whether this is your type of game.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 12/07/03

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