RollerCoaster Tycoon 3

2Another resurrected classic.

In its day, RollerCoaster Tycoon was a pretty awesome game. Of course, the “Tycoon†game field was not saturated yet, and Railroad Tycoon II was still king. But even when its sequel came and went, and the field was pretty darn soggy, there was just something addictive about the series. All of the expansions and deluxe editions enjoyed long runs on the bestseller lists, and were highly endorsed by all of the “family friendly†organizations that boycott stuff like Grand Theft Auto.

If or when you heard about Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, the first thing you probably thought was, “Oh. Just more of the same, only in 3D.†Well, you’d be partially right, as the main concept hasn’t really changed, but added features and enhancements help it continue to shine, and its still-superb gameplay model might convince you that thinking about the original “In its day…†may not give it enough credit.

The first thing to notice, besides all the 3D eye candy, is that they’ve overhauled the interface and installed a task-specific hub — a much cleaner and simpler approach. There are hundreds of different small guests, or “peeps,†with over 50 different facial expressions, in all shapes and sizes, and all bigger than the previous ones that seemed about eight-pixels-high. Looking like bright animated Colorforms, the peeps roam through the park, some with really silly-looking, hand-waving, run animations, some with immense blue or green afros, and some teenagers doing their stuff. With all of the detail the camera zoom-control affords, it’s almost like being there.

Of course there’s a sandbox mode, as well as an extensive campaign with three objective-based difficulty levels per scenario — Apprentice, Entrepreneur, and Tycoon. They’ve also added dynamic speed control (the lack of which has been very frustrating in the past) and eliminated most time limits. You won’t be forced to make an inefficient park just to meet some objective, but there will be ‘intermediate objectives’ you’ll have to contend with, in both random and non-random situations. An example of a random situation would be a heat wave, which would necessitate things like extra liquid-refreshment stands, more shaded areas, aerosol deodorant in the vending machines; and a non-random one might be something like preparing for a high-school graduation night, where you’d want to make everything very student-friendly.

6You’ll still build with the traditional grid system, but several new tools will really facilitate the process. There’s an “averaging†tool, which takes your grid placement and extrapolates its position over topographically variant terrain. In other words, it’s easier to build on hills. There’s also “auto-complete,†which connects various design points without your having to worry about making them actually “meet.†The biggest new feature in RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, of course, is the ability to view your coaster rides via first-person – a feature that was asked for since the first game appeared.

You can expect all of the old standby coaster types, including hanging coasters, as well as some newer ones, such as huge, monster, mega-tacular “giga-coasters,†and specialties like racing roller coasters, or “dueling†coasters that share the same grid (but not the same track) where cars meet one another as though in a joust. In addition to the looping, twisting, corkscrewing, death-on-stilts coaster rides, there are many other kinds of rides and attractions like Giant Concentrically Spinning Teacups, Ferris Wheels, Water Flumes, Hyperslides, and Laser Tag facilities.

Explore RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 for long enough, you’ll find a brilliantly simple design that’s also jam-packed with intricate gameplay for the build/business sim enthusiast.

System Requirements: Pentium III 700 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 1.24 GB HDD, WinXP

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