Reviewed: November 28, 2004
Released: : November 2, 2004
Do you tire in waiting in lines, amongst screaming children, in overpriced theme parks for a ride that you will only be on for five minutes at the most? If so, Atari's latest version of the popular theme park simulation will allow you to enjoy the thrill of being in and owning an amusement park, minus the whiny kids.
Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 is the latest edition in the series from Atari. It is just one of the many in the Tycoon genre, but probably the most popular of them all. In this series, you are the owner of an amusement park, where you can build numerous attractions to earn income. However, you have all the problems that major amusement parks have, such as customer satisfaction, ride maintenance, etc.
There are two modes of play, career mode and sandbox mode. Career mode allows you to start from scratch to build a park that will either make you or put you into poverty. Career mode is the main part of the game, and allows you to fully immerse yourself in the business aspect of the game. The lack of a tutorial mode makes this game difficult to understand at times.
Sandbox mode allows you make mistakes without the fear of going bankrupt over and over again, since there is no money needed for anything in this mode. This was the mode I perfered more, since I could play to my heart's content without the hassles of money.
Building an actual roller coaster was a bit of a Herculean task for me, since this is my first time playing it. It is not for the weak (or impatient) at heart. Since I had to find a roller coaster that wasn't too intense or looked like a train track, it was difficult to build a coaster that people would ride. This game is not for those new to the genre.
Your park's visitors are your key to park development. They give ideas on how to improve rides, costs and miscellaneous other things. Called “peeps,” They will serve as a valuable lifeline at times, and they will help you earn awards and help you get new rides for your park.
The biggest downfall of this game is load time. I managed to 20 pages in the manual before it loaded the title screen. This quickly made me fret for the actual game play. Fortunately, other load times are not such much of an issue, but they still are long enough.
Control is simple to master in this game. Everything you need to build is in a categorized menu. From this menu you can find everything from thrill rides to Bobo the Purple Elephant (some names have been changed to protect the innocent). It is also a simple matter of zooming in and out with a mouse that has a wheel on it. Which can be a pain for those who don't have said mouse.
The rides look very realistic, graphics wise, though the people riding them don't. The graphics are alright for this game, so you really don't lose anything in gameplay. The ability to be able to go to “Coaster Cam” (which is a way for you to get the experience of riding the rides without the nausea) is a neat option, and gives you perspective on how to further improve your park. The “Fireworks MixMaster” gives you the option of setting off a customized fireworks display at some time in the game day. You can make it as simple or complicated as you want.
The sound in the game definitely puts you inside an amusement park atmosphere. The sound of the rides is realistic and the screaming of the customers on thrill rides puts you in the park that you made, without waiting in line. Music wise, you have your typical carnival-type music (and very little selection). Personally, the option of setting “Enter Sandman” or your favorite music as the music for a coaster would definitely heighten the experience. The music is definitely mediocre at best.
You can spend countless hours on this game. Building and rebuilding, over and over again. And there's your replay value. You can start over and try to build a better park or see how much you can screw up in sandbox mode (which I found fun). Value wise, $30 isn't too bad, so this is a try and buy kind of game.
The game as a whole is average. The graphics are superb, but the lack of a tutorial mode hurts the game, but once you figure things out it can become quite addictive and even a bit challenging.
If you are a fan of the previous games in the series, you'll love this one, and if you never played the originals and like theme parks or the micromanagement aspects of simulated business, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try, even if you just download the demo.