“If the developers listen to the fans now, this game could go far in the future.”
Roller Coaster Tycoon has seen a lot of success as a franchise over the years. Fans have held on tight to Atari’s simulation game, which took the model of games such as Bullfrog’s Theme Park and gave the player the ultimate power of creation. The ability to play God through the medium of roller coasters has kept us thrilled now since 1999, but since 2004’s Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 and its related expansions we have been left hanging. Other games have appeared with great potential, but nothing quite as enjoyable as constructing coasters in Roller Coaster Tycoon’s unique way. Those who know and love the series will be hoping that this new release, Roller Coaster Tycoon World, will be no exception.
The game certainly showcases a re-thought style for the franchise. A refined, glossy appearance, high-detail peeps wondering about the place and free-form placement of rides, buildings and paths allow greater immersion and freedom than has been on offer before. The latter feature however, in my experience, simply left things looking more of a mess. Even with an alternative, more traditional snap option available, it is hard to set up your park as simply as you used to with the new system, and for the sake of tidiness this is a bit disappointing. Nevertheless, if you can master the new method, you are free to lay things out in any way that you can imagine (within the realms of physics and possibility, of course).
The updated appearance of the game offers a colourful, high-definition overtone to your park which comes across almost cartoony in its happiness. It is very reminiscent of its predecessors, but at the same time brings the game forward in terms of what is now graphically possible. One set of visuals that are less appealing now however are the menus. These are somewhat complicated to find your way around and often stick on screen when you are finished unless you manually close them one by one. Whilst the objective menu for example is clearly laid out, it takes up the entirety of the display, meaning you can’t view this and work simultaneously. It also stays open beneath other menus if you don’t close it specifically, which becomes a little frustrating. Other menus also simply use symbols rather than any wording to signify their purpose, meaning often there is a lot of searching to be done to find things.
Despite getting around being a little convoluted, park management is perhaps more simple than ever. Some players may dislike this over the traditional methods, but it certainly speeds up gameplay and allows for tasks to be completed at pace. Each ride has its own customisation and pricing options which are easy to access and change, as does the park as a whole and the staff management buildings. Some traditional options such as those for staff (which are now very simplistic) do not appear to be present anymore, but others such as specific queuing times for rides have been added. Personally, I found the old options more fruitful, but perhaps with more time spent playing and as the game develops these new ideas will grow and become more central to how your park works.
Placing rides and managing the details are important the simulation, but of course the real charm of Roller Coaster Tycoon World if it is to be a success will have to be the coaster building. You can, of course, create your own roller coasters from scratch in this game. That is a no brainer. This is done by selecting a base style, and constructing sections one by one from the start to the finish. You can change angles, height and banking each time you place a section, with additional options such as chains, booster and breaks being customisable once your basic track is down too. Once you have a shape you like, it is then a case of testing and adjusting until your ride is safe and viable within the realms of possibility, at which point you get ratings for its excitement, intensity and of course how likely it is to make riders throw up.
The system is quite similar to how it used to be, with some elements simplified, and it is unlikely that long term fans will be intrinsically disappointed. That being said, I still prefer the old method personally. There was certainly a charm to being able to add wild jumps and launch peeps into neighbouring parks to bring down their park rating. Something about the crudeness of it in these kind of ways made it special for me, and probably for many others too. This new style just feels a little too realistic for such a fun-centric game. It should be possible to keep it real, but still have the quirky thrills on hand as well in order to keep the good times rolling.
Roller Coaster Tycoon World, at this early access stage, is a good base to work from. The only problem is it tries to change things just a little bit too much from the old ways. Long term fans of the franchise will no doubt want to relive familiar experiences, but will be faced with a learning curve in the new game before they can do so. Despite this, the game in its own right shows many signs of strength and with feedback at this stage it has the potential to be moulded into the perfect Roller Coaster Tycoon experience for the modern market. If the developers listen to the fans now, this game could go far in the future.
- If you can master the game’s free object placement, total control is yours.
- Colourful, detailed visuals upgrade the house style of the previous games.
- Park management is clear and concise, adding ease to related mechanics.
- Coaster building is detailed and simplified, making these easy to construct.
- A good base game to work from if the fans are listened to at this early stage.
- Menus are large and stack upon each other, getting in the way of the screen.
- Some menus require a bit of searching in order to find the one you are looking for, despite the clear layout once you get there.
- Easier park management makes it feel like the options are more restricted than they have been in the past.
- Coaster building has become more sensible – perhaps too much so for fans.