Planet Coaster: Console Edition is what I would consider as one of the more interesting games to come out for home consoles. Not because it redefines the management simulation genre by any means but because it still upholds its major features without any sort of noticeable compromise. One of the biggest things I love with the game is its massive selection of constructs and visual flair while also being able to deliver a compact and straightforward control scheme to keep it from falling apart. And it does it in two ways… like literally.
Planet Coaster: Console Edition delivers the theme park experience in both a controller or with its mouse and keyboard support which is a welcome addition that doesn’t alienate either its console fans or hardcore PC enthusiasts. There’s even a nice marriage between the two that lets you use either one without having to make an additional effort. Simply use a controller if you feel like it or grab the keyboard and mouse should you feel more comfortable doing the other tasks that way. It’s a completely smooth transition with using one or the other that it really makes you want to see how console games evolve in this direction.
Right from the get-go, Planet Coaster is bold and straightforward. There are multiple ways to play from the sandbox mode that lets you jump straight through its massive and intimidating set of menus and features to its career mode that gives you the step-by-step in becoming the future micro-managing mogul of the industry. Simply put, you can do whatever the frick you want and nobody will judge you otherwise. Though taking the tour in career mode is something you simply wouldn’t want to take for granted as it acts as the tutorial mode that introduces you to the game and its many features.
It isn’t without its faults though… right from the start I felt lost like a little child in a massive theme park filled with menus and buttons. That instance comes in the form of finding and placing a rubbish bin which was required by the game, so I could continue the tutorial. While it does show at the corner of the screen where and what I need to click on, it didn’t particularly mention how I’m supposed to get there. This is something that took me like a few good minutes to figure out as I fiddle around with my controller until finally pressing circle and jumping into the categories section where I can choose what I need. This process continues on with its other minor yet most used features such as creating paths and item placements.
Now while I do love the settings involved with these features such as angle snapping whenever you want to rotate a structure or move snapping if you want that pixel-perfect placement of walls among other things, it comes at the price of not being fully explored. If you’re not particularly fixated on how things are placed, you might not even realize how great these features are without fidgeting around or messing about. In fact, this is something I only figured out after two hours into the game and once I got completely frustrated at how my buildings are placed. On the plus side, it’s great that you have the freedom for pixel-perfect accuracy on your placements while also having the same freedom to place however and wherever you want. Though you might end up with the same frustrations if you didn’t know how it works for the game’s lack of handholding in that matter.
There’s a lot of features that go hand in hand with Planet Coaster but while its minor features weren’t one of them, it’s undeniable that the star of the show is its robust roller coaster system that even lets you create your own from scratch or place pre-built tracks without being required to have a degree in engineering. Thankfully enough, you only need a degree in tutorial management or a bachelors in trial and error to get started. Creating your own coaster is straightforward but does require a bit of common sense and trial and error to have it up and running such as having enough force from the initial climb to get you through its ups and downs.
But on the less interesting yet equally important aspect of running a theme park is managing its staff, customer needs as well as everything in between to create a profitable business. And this is something that is fully explored and easily accessible thanks to the game’s park management system. There’s a lot of statistics in place from what your customer tweets out that you’d best pay attention to as well as how your staff is doing or how well the business is going. You’re also reminded now and then with its pop up notifications for everything that’s going on like monthly updates on the business or other stuff such as the lack of vendors in particular stalls or how the staff feels about their workload.
Visually there’s a great mix of everything… from structures and other miscellaneous objects that can be stacked or terrain that can be reformed to create one massive and eye-catching park. But while we might not be the most inspired or motivated park builder on the block, some are and Planet Coaster knows that very well. This is where its Frontier Workshop feature goes into play, a feature that lets fellow players share their creations from sharing simple creations like Homer Simpson’s bust or full-blown amusement parks filled with impressive and ingenious ways to stack and create a living and breathing park. This feature lets you play around with another player’s park or get inspiration to have your own dream park started.
Now, this is something minor and often times just something that happens occasionally but still noticeable when it does. Some features like advance rotate has its occasional hiccups where it refuses to rotate an object unless I cancel the placement and select a new item or switch to a new command before going back to the rotate function. One other problem I get now and then is when the game gets confused about how WASD works in the game when using the keyboard. Instead of moving similar to how the left thumbstick works such as moving left, right, up or down, at times W and S would zoom in and out which offers some frustrations because I would need to grab a controller to control the game for the time being.
In conclusion, Planet Coaster: Console Edition not only brings its massive and somewhat intimidating amount of content into home consoles but also manages to deliver a solid experience that juggles the business and fun side of a roller coaster theme park. The entire run is an engrossing experience even with its shaky introductions that led to some minor hiccups down the track but overall, it picks itself up right in time for the finish line.
This review is based on the PS4 version of the game which can be purchased here for £39.99.
If you have not got a PS4, no worries the game is also available on PC, Xbox One, PS5 and Xbox Series X|S.
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