Planet CoasterOverview -
The venerable 'RollerCoaster Tycoon' franchise began in 1999 by Chris Sawyer Productions. Frontier Developments, also responsible for the 'Elite' franchise, developed the third game in the series. Their version was popular but the series faded away except for a few imitations. Frontier never lost their love for virtual amusement parks (they also developed 'Zoo Tycoon' and 'Screamride'), and they have been working on their own new sim, 'Planet Coaster', for some time now. It is available for PC.
'Planet Coaster' looks great on the ultra settings and has been decently optimized. The game is highly detailed and very smooth, with little slowdown even with a massive, highly populated park. The interface is where the game is the most difficult, both because of the complexity of the system and the lack of tutorial missions. Routine tasks like building walls and pathways can be cumbersome. Even after playing for some time, I wonder if there aren't more little systems and shortcuts under the hood that I haven't been introduced to, and I'd rather know everything up front than risk missing things in a trial by error format.
As reported in PC Gamer, Frontier's sound designer Watson Wu took over a theme park to record 'Planet Coaster's audio, and the result is an authentic, rich soundscape. The coasters are especially good, with all of the clicking, whooshing, and screaming you'd expect. The music is pleasing enough without standing out.
In some ways it is very dramatic how far the roller coaster tycoon genre has come, and yet the core rulebook has changed little. Frontier has made an abundant and pretty simulation bound to captivate tycoon fans, although in essence it is much like 'RollerCoaster Tycoon 3'. I admit I would have liked just a little bit more hand-holding at the beginning of the game, but that didn't stop me from having a lot of fun with 'Planet Coaster'.
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