RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 Review (PC)

Everyone, at one time or another, wants to be a tycoon at something, be it business or some other endeavor. The gaming industry has tapped into this desire with a virtual plethora of titles, from underwater to space, to trains and planes. But the most fun, and I dare say, most interesting, has been the excellent Roller Coaster Tycoon series. In these fine games, people can build and watch something that is fun, and non-violent, and maybe learn a thing or two about long term planning and resource management. Seeing as there has already been two versions of the game, plus add ons, another title was sure to come, and it was worth the wait. With Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, players now have the ultimate amusement park simulator.

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For those unfamiliar with this series of games, RCT is a real time amusement part simulator, players play the role of the owner and planner of a theme park. Its up to the players to mange the park, hire employees, buy and design rides, lay out landscape, even set the prices of goods and services. All of these seemingly complex tasks can be accomplished quite easily in this game.

Using the game tools, players, if they have the money, can build amusement parks, place the rides, design the walk ways, everything. The level of detail in the games is quite deep. For example, you can choose the colors of the rides, the design of entrance and exits, decide what kind of gift and food stalls to place, where to place them, even the uniforms of your employees can be custom colored. You place garbage cans, benches, lamps, signs (and you can change what the signs say), and landscape items like trees, bushes, and special items to match the theme of your park. Players can even select the level of inspection of equipment, and the patrol area of mechanics to keep the park up and running. The game includes suggestions from a park manager, named Mr Jobsworth, who walks around inspecting the park.

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The game engine includes night and day, and there is an option to create fireworks displays at night. Players can hire entertainers for their patrons, in several different designs, that players can re-color as they like. You can research new rides and services also, and new items will become available as the game progresses. So, if you open a hamburger stand, before long, it will be able to sell four types of burgers, and offer a number on condiments, and you can even set limits on this. This game is a micro-manager's dream, but it isn't so complex that it will overwhelm players.

The game engine tries to simulate all park operations, so you will need a diverse staff to run it correctly, and keep the patrons happy. You can get clues from the customers, by reading their thoughts, which is an option when you click on them. You can also see how much money they have, what souvenirs they have purchased, and how they feel about certain kinds of rides. The game can amuse you just watching it, and you will see people buy balloons, hats, shirts, all kinds of things as the game progresses. You will also see litter, vandalism, and people losing their lunch, especially near the thrill rides. Make sure janitors are on staff to clean things up.

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If you run a neat and tidy park, you will win cash awards. These also help bring people to the park. You can run add campaigns, to bring in more patrons, and offer coupons for free items and rides in your park. As long as you have money, you can do things, so watch the finances carefully, always repay loans, and spend wisely. If a ride doesn't make money, don't hesitate to sell it, many parks have limited space, don't waste cash on useless rides.

So, what is new in this game from previous games you might ask, well, quite a lot actually. The most important improvement in the game is it is now completely 3 dimensional, with state of the art graphics and full camera control. In addition, a new feature includes the 'ride cam,' where you can virtually ride and attraction in your park in 3 D! You can see the perspective of the park from the best roller coasters, all the thrill rides, even the gentle rides. The new game engine is quite excellent, all the park patrons are now unique, no two are exactly alike.

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The game allows players to upload their own MP3s, so you can add any type of music you like to rides and attractions. The game tools allow you to select from pre-made rides, and rotate them to fit into your park anywhere you want them. One of the more pleasing thing about this game is the ease in which you learn how to use the game's tools. Players should have little difficulty constructing elaborate parks in no time at all.

The game includes a number of scenarios, and new scenarios are added when you meet the victory conditions of previous scenarios. Sometimes you are required to have a certain amount of guests. Other conditions might be to repay a loan, or have a number of roller coasters. The game also allows players to down load new scenarios from the Internet, and to design their own. There is also, for the first time, a complete sandbox mode, allowing players to build their dream park, with no restraints of any kind.

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I found this game to be completely enjoyable, a fine addition to a great series of tycoon builders. The outstanding looks, ease of use, and pure fun of this design makes it a must have for gamers who love Tycoon games, in fact, for gamers whom, love good games period. So, go out and pick this game up, you won't be disappointed at all, this one is a real winner.