RollerCoaster Tycoon 3
Mankind has a love/hate relationship with terror. On the one hand we're fighting a war against it, on the other, we seek it out - bungie jumps, Friday nights on the piss in Bridgend and rollercoasters. Combine this with a seemingly insatiable appetite for god games, simulations and Theme Park-a-likes, and you have Rollercoaster Tycoon 3.
The brainchild of designer Chris Sawyer, the first Rollercoaster Tycoon was 1999's biggest-selling PC title in the US. But this had less to do with an overwhelming demand for a rollercoaster maintenance simulation, more with the fact that it was a clever, addictive and, above all, fresh management game. Five years on, do these accolades still apply?
Big Willy Style
The 'fresh' part is the problem, obviously, as the basic Rollercoaster formula remains unchanged. Essentially, you have to build an amusement park from scratch into the most popular recreation destination this side of Disneyland. This involves constructing rides, shops, restaurants, bars and toilets, linking them all together with paths, and then making sure it all doesn't fall apart or get buried under a pile of litter when the screaming kids arrive.
When we say 'rides', naturally the coaster is king. These are what really pull the punters, and you get to place every twist, dive and loop in the track, saving your designs for use in other games. Make it look like a willy, or spell out a rude word - you can let your imagination run free.
So what's new? Well, Mr Sawyer has stepped aside, and in comes the man behind the classic Elite, David Braben, and his company Frontier. And they've brought with them a topnotch 3D engine. So now you can zoom in and watch those families squabble, gorge themselves on ice creams, and best of all, hurtle round your pride and joy - the rollercoaster.
Get Us A Burger
With a really solid, 'toy town' kind of feel, the detail is superb. The facial expressions of visitors - or 'peeps' - change from joy to anguish when they can't locate the loos, kids cry when balloons pop, and you'll even spy young lovers sticking their tongues down each others' throats. We're also treated to flexible difficulty levels for each mission, a sandbox mode, the added headache of visiting VIPeeps to keep happy, as well as scenario and visitor editing tools.
It's the most polished version of the game so far, and those who've never made a small child puke before will be in store for hours of fun. But the new interface with its streamlined minimalism hides a baffling array of build options, and is not the best for the newbie. For vomit veterans, RC3 is like a visit to Alton Towers; you know what's in store, but it doesn't stop it from being a laugh. After all, when a game this popular isn't broke, you don't fix it.
Download RollerCoaster Tycoon 3
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Despite this, Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 is making a gravitydefying attempt to become the most realistic fairground ride simulation ever created. Chris Sawyer's well-known franchise always owed a huge amount to Bullfrog's Theme Park and Wil Wright's Sim City, but the third incarnation has been passed on to David Elite' Braben's company Frontier Developments, who produced the Wacky Worlds expansion pack for Rollercoaster Tycoon 2.
Obviously a Rollercoaster Tycoon game wouldn't be much cop without a collection of decent rides, so the team has spent a lot of time researching new attractions, which you can now climb aboard in 3D using the new Coaster Cam. Based around five themes - classic, spooky, western, sci-fi and adventure - rollercoasters include the Thrill-lift and Tilt-coaster, and classic flat-rides' such as the Zipper and Skywheel. Each coaster has a wider range of components and you can now add animatronics, triggered by the ride, including a T-Rex attack and an oil tanker bursting into flames.
All The Fun Of The Fair
There are whole new components to the game such as a day/night cycle, so you can lay out fancy night-time lighting, or make rides extra scary, continues Braben excitedly, and you can now design your own spectacular fireworks displays. These show-stopping visuals can also be synchronised to the in-game music or your own MP3s imported into the game (see Fire In The Sky', right).
Of course, the people who'll hopefully benefit from all your hard work are the thousands of fully-animated park visitors that you'll have to keep happy with spectacular attractions and state-of-the-art facilities. The technology for the people is new, based on a principle we first used in the game Frontier, says Braben, where different body components such as clothing, hairstyles, and faces are put together to make a huge number of different possible combinations. We have thousands of visitors in RT3, all different, with facial expressions, each doing their own thing, telling jokes to each other, arguing - even bursting into tears."
You'll be able to create your own characters with the People Editor, so you can put family, friends, work colleagues and celebrities into the game as park vistfprs - we'd personally relish the opportunity of seeing TV saleswoman Linda Barker throwing her guts up in terror. Also, if you group people together as a family, the Al will change their behaviour accordingly.
You First. No, You...
When we first included groups, we found that very few people were going onto the rides, continues Braben. This was because when a particular group member wants to go on an extreme ride, the others may not, so it ended up with big crowds of people just standing around waiting next to the extreme rides. To fix this we added another factor - peer pressure - where the guy who really wants to go on the coaster would try to persuade the rest, which now means that groups go on the ride together more often.
Another important aspect of the Rollercoaster Tycoon games are the extra ways of persuading visitors to open their wallets in your park, so you'll be able to augment the rides with numerous shops and stalls. Sneaky ways of improving profits include offering free chillis on the burgers, which will have visitors gulping down drinks and syphoning money straight into your pockets. However if you'd prefer to just concentrate on building the biggest and most hair-raising rides, the Sandbox mode allows you to unleash your most ambitious ideas with unlimited funds.
Graphically, RT3 is a world away from the plain, isometric visuals of the first two games, with a full 3D camera, DX9-compatible lighting effects and full animation for visitors. It's amazing to watch, says Braben. When you see a whole load of people's faces watching a coaster go past or a fireworks display, it's reminiscent of the famous footage of the crowd at Wimbledon, where most of the heads move together as the ball goes from side to side. We'll have a full hands-on of RT3 next month - if we can keep our hotdogs down.
When it comes to theme park management games, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 is one of the best. It is certainly the very best in the RollerCoaster Tycoon series. While Planet Coaster is all the rage these days, today we are looking back at this gem from 2004 and why it is a game so many people have great memories of.
Welcome To My Theme Park!
The goal of RollerCoaster Tycoon is to build the most awesome theme park in the world, have tons of guests come and visit it, make the guests happy and of course make a ton of money in the process! It is a very addictive process and it one of those games were an intended 20 minute session can run into an all-nighter!
It Looks Great
This was the first game in the series to make the jump into 3D and it did it so well that it actually makes going back to those isometric RollerCoaster Tycoon games really hard. Sure the game is not the best looking in the world. However, this 3D perspective lets you create the park of your dreams much easier as you can move around and see exactly where you are placing things. It also makes creating these crazy roller coasters much easier as well as you can get in close, move the camera and see exactly how it is working out. Some games struggled when they made the jump to 3D, but RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 is not one of them. You can even ride the coasters which is really neat and even after all these years looks pretty cool.
Make Your Park Great
The main game mode is the career mode and it is a lot of fun to play. You have to create a dream park from scratch. A park that is going to attract “peeps” to come and take in the rides and attractions and also spend all of their money here. It is not just building the park you have to do. You also have to make sure you hire the right staff so that the attractions are in tip, top shape and that the park is clean and well maintained.
Also, you need to keep an eye on the peeps to make sure that they are happy. Also, the career mode has different goals that need to be completed before you can move on. These are actually a lot of fun and range from having a celebrity appearance at your park and you needing to make sure they have a great time. To making sure your park is ranked at a certain rating. There are different difficulties of objectives for you to complete and while some are challenging I found them all fun.
Do What You Want!
Another game mode that is in RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 is the sandbox mode. As you would expect this mode lets you do what you want. Money and time is not a problem and you are free to mess around and create the park of your dreams. The only drawback here is that you cannot expand the land! This is a bit of a shame as while you have unlimited resources you do not have unlimited space. Still, the sandbox mode is a lot of fun to play and you can easily waste hours and hours of your time trying to come up with a park that would make Walt Disney jealous. If you have the know how you can even make use of things like custom attractions and scenarios which can be fun.
RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 is one of those games that people love and have a lot of great memories about. However, it is also a game that holds up really well to this day. If you love games like Theme Park and Planet Coaster, you have to check this one out as it really is a lot of fun.
- The jump to 3D works really well
- The career mode is tons of fun
- You can get really crazy with your coaster designs
- Lots to keep an eye on to keep your park running
- Sandbox mode is very entertaining
- Could have given you more land in sandbox mode
- You could argue that Planet Coaster has made this obsolete