Screaming children for fun and profit.Be it the rides, the seemingly alien carnies or just the general trashiness, it’s hard not to love theme parks. Just imagine how cool it would be to run one – well, your chance has finally come with Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, the latest in Microprose/Frontier’s franchise. Just like previous games in the series, it sees you as the manager of a theme park. You’ll be responsible for designing rides, hiring staff and doing everything you can to make the little people hand over their hard-earned.
Like most sim games, Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 is a single player affair, offering both scenario play and a sandbox mode. In the scenarios, you’ll find yourself taking over already established parks, adding to them in order to meet goals such as having a certain number of people in the park at one time or a specific amount of high intensity rides. In the sandbox mode, you’ll find yourself totally unrestricted by silly things like budget and real estate and you’ll be able to get down to the serious business of creating the wildest rides imaginable.
In order to ease you into the experience, the game features a number of tutorials. Sadly, these feel somewhat disjointed and you’ll have to figure out most of it out for yourself.
This is a game that’s all about options. In fact, it could be said that there’s almost too many options and that altering them is too often pointless. While creating your own roller coasters is fun, it all feels a little excessive when you have to select from a long list of pyrotechnics for a firework display.
Graphically, the game is very pretty. Whereas the predecessors looked somewhat dated, Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 is wonderfully detailed, right down to the expressions on peoples faces, the clothes they’re wearing and the food they’re eating.
Bundled in the Gold pack, Soaked! adds a number of water-themed rides and scenarios to the game, including whale shows, swimming pools and aquariums. Just like in the original, the amount of options is excessive – you even have to specify the type of cleaning chemical used in the pools.
Aside from a number of new scenarios, rides and a new staff member, the Wild! expansion introduces animals to the Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 experience. Surprisingly, this aspect of the game is very deep and a lot of fun, letting you buy, breed and sell animals. When animals escape, you have to jump in a helicopter and snipe them with a tranquiliser dart. This is an amusing feature that adds to the experience. The only downside of Wild! is that the dinosaurs are animatronic – you’re not allowed to create your own Jurassic Park. Still, you can’t have everything. Well worth the cash if you love the original.
For: Pretty graphics; lots of options Against: Poorly designed tutorials; sometimes too many things to do