something about long, detail-oriented games that really seem to stick to
the inside of the proverbial rib cage. Take monopoly, for example. Sure,
its not a computer game (well, it is
), but the basic concept is the
same. Try sitting down and playing a single setting in less than
forty-five minutes. It takes time, involves complex, detailed
accounting, strategy, and patience; but try to find someone whos never
played it. Any takers? In the same line, the Sims is the all time
best-selling game. Its not a fast paced, high intensity action shooter.
Whether you play them yourself or not (and chances are you do), theres
no denying that simulation markets are one of the most stable and
consistent genres in the gaming industry. Since 1990, when the original
SimCity took to the streets (and possibly before that), there has always
been at least one solid sim performer: a game that allows you to
micromanage other peoples lives.
As one of
Infogrames latest sim releases, RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 proves to be
just as addictive as its original little brother, RollerCoaster Tycoon.
In fact, RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 plays so similarly to the original that
you would be hard pressed to identify the major features that separate
it from an impressive expansion pack. With the exception of a new
campaign editor, a Six Flags theme license, and a much-demanded
stand-alone RollerCoaster editor, what you get out of Tycoon 2 is mostly
the same as what you get from Tycoon 1 and its subsequent expansions.
But dont let that get you down. RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 is packed with a
creative and incredibly addictive list of features, elements, and
gameplay. What made the original great was carried over, improved upon,
and thrown into a new box with some additional features. Something
entirely new? No. Worth your time? Yes. Cast aside a few hours work,
re-adjust your monitor for optimal viewing, and settle in to deprive
some quarter-inch tall people of their hard earned cash.
For those not
familiar with the original, the RollerCoaster Tycoon series places you
in the role of a theme park manager, responsible for both the minor
decisions (YOUR FIRED!) and the major ones (Dear Bank, would you please
loan me another $10,000 for my latest roller coaster monstrosity).
Assisted by a detailed set of tools for determining customer
satisfaction, thoughts, and checking account balance, Tycoon lets you
embark upon the task of putting together the greatest amusement park
ever built. At your disposal youll have a wide range of buildings and
rides, from hot-dog stands and first aid stations, to log rides, death
drops, and those spinning gravity wall thingies. At its heart, though,
RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 has towering coasters to be the center of your
private play land. With the ability to select roller coasters from a
pre-fabricated list, or design them yourself, youll find that the
roller coaster is the cash cow of your industry.
much has changed since the 1999 release of the original. While the new
game allows for far more animations, and the building roof has been
substantially raised, what you see now is pretty much the same thing you
saw three years ago. The lack of a 3D engine is very obvious, especially
when you rotate your camera and find yourself confused and disorientated
after a jarring transition. Fortunately for this type of game, that
really doesnt matter (the 3D graphics, that is). Yeah, we all like our
eye candy, but lack of modern graphics doesnt lesson the experience one
has playing with the lives of your little amusement seekers. No, where
Rollercoaster Tycoon soars is the attention to detail in other ways
besides the visual effects. Take the information windows, for example.
Whenever youre worried about what your park needs, all you have to do
is take a look at the customer thoughts. Here, youll find information
on almost anything related to your park. How much money they have; what
theyve bought while in the park; their favorite rides; how sick theyre
feeling. Most importantly, it also describes their desired thrill
factors, what intensity they prefer, and their last thoughts. Too many
bubbles appear that read, "I have to go to the bathroom!" and its up to
you to build latrines or hire more janitors. If your little people start
complaining about being in line too long, sick a big purple mascot on
them when they enter the gate. With such intimidation, no one dares to
speak up, and everything returns to normal (the game actually claims
that people are happier when being entertained, but I have my doubts).
original, scenarios are now offered to you all at once. There is no
process of unlocking more difficult and additional challenges. Its up
to you to choose what you want to play from the start. Unfortunately,
theres a distinct lack of a speed control. This plays out in two ways.
Either on one hand you dont want to spend time custom building your own
roller coaster while youre simultaneously managing the park, and which
case you think time is moving too fast, or youve completed your
objectives early and feel like you could go watch a movie while you
waited for that last year to click off. The ability to speed up or slow
down time would have helped tremendously, as well as a pause-to-edit
feature. It would have been nice to be able to construct a rollercoaster
while in pause. Sure, time isnt passing, things cant be happening, but
who ever heard of a theme park constructing a roller coaster without
blueprints, from scratch, while people are watching? Asking you to build
while guests are visiting is like giving an engineer a piece of land, no
pencil, and insist that he let you flick him repeatedly in the ear while
he builds you an intricate ride. Things just dont get done that way. It
would have been nice if the game paused while you custom design you
masterpiece, and at least during this period of the game, included an
undo feature. There were numerous times that I ended up deleting paths
and wasting money because I couldnt see the entrance to a ride clearly.
Reality says that you wouldnt be able to build if time werent moving;
reality also says that no capable engineer would let you spend ten
thousand dollars starting construction on a track whose ends dont line
up on paper.
To its credit,
there is a stand-alone roller coaster editor within the game that allows
you to design rides free of cost, time, or space limitations. You can
save these designs and then implement them later while constructing your
park, but in order to build a coaster while playing you have to quite
your game, load the editor, build the coaster, save the edited ride, and
then re-load the game itself. A bit complicated. Ill just end up buying
a pre-manufactured wood and steel structure, and have it shipped FedEx.
Nice and speedy that way.
That aside, you
still find yourself playing for hours. Sure, you might take a dinner
break, but thats only because you skipped lunch while glued to the
screen. All the elements that made RollerCoaster Tycoon a hit are still
here, almost duplicated to a flaw. I suppose what bothers me about this
new release is this: there is nothing youll learn from this review that
you couldnt have learned playing the old game, and reading
GamesFirst!s E3 preview last summer. Unlike some games that come out
and surprise the world with their hidden wonders, every major feature in
RCT2 is either played out in entirety in the original, or summed up in a
two-paragraph preview without ever playing the game. You played
RollerCoaster Tycoon? You want to know what RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 is
like? Imagine RCT, and then ad the ability to play with Six Flags
layouts and roller coaster designs, the ability to build coasters
outside the game, and some more animations in the graphics. There you
go. Cool? Cool.
Aaron Stanton (12/16/2002)
Addictive, in-depth fun that keeps you interested;
all the plusses of the original, with a few added treats.
Identical gameplay as the original; almost more
like a worthy expansion pack over a new game.