Remember the year 1999? It was the year Atari first introduced Rollercoaster Tycoon into our lives; playing Frontier Developments latest simulation title Planet Coaster, a spiritual successor to Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 left me with a nostalgic feeling and is further evidence of how far gaming has come since its introduction 17 years ago. Released into Steam Early Access earlier this year and now fully released on PC, Planet Coaster is a deep simulator game that revolves around building and managing a theme park. Like Rollercoaster Tycoon, Planet Coaster puts you in the shoes of a theme park owner with various game modes, each with a different level of challenge to quench your thirst for thrill rides.
Planet Coaster is made up of 3 different game modes, with Career ideal for the player looking to manage and improve a pre-built theme park. Career’s main goal is to complete increasingly harder challenges, which can be achieved by improving various elements around the park for a more successful outcome. For example, players will have to construct more rides and coasters for their location, thus making the park far more profitable for the player. Researching and marketing are also very important; building new rides and attracting more customers will essentially make your park financially profitable and more successful in the long run. Planet Coaster also boasts a challenge mode which offers players a certain amount of cash but with limited options, a mode where various challenge competitions earn players more cash to spend on a variety of resources to further progression and your adventure. The third and final game mode and my personal favourite Sandbox is a mode where players have unlimited funds with everything unlocked for the more creative of players, able to construct the biggest and best theme park imaginable.
Planet Coaster: PC [Reviewed]
Developer: Frontier Developments
Publisher: Frontier Developments
Release Date: 17 November 2016
Price: £29.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Developer/Publisher]
As with real-life theme parks, ensuring customers within the park remain satisfied at all times is important to a successful business and that reflects brilliantly as one of the games main objectives. Each guest has his or her own wants, needs, in addition to a select amount of cash with each paying customer. How and if they spend their hard-earned cash in your park depends on how well you create it. Sure, you can drop in some rides to create your own theme park in mere seconds; but building kiosks, food stands, toilets and atm machines and positioning them along the pathways between each ride will increase value and ensure customers spend more money during their time at your park. Keeping your location sparkling clean also plays a pivotal part in successive progression so building enough trash cans and hire cleaning personnel to help keep your park remain clean will also keep your customers happy. Ultimately it comes down to you, the player to create a park in a manner that will make it either a plain boring and bland theme park or a wildly successful one.
One of the most exciting aspects of any theme park is, of course, its rollercoasters and Planet Coaster is all about building the lightning quick rides; offering players plenty of choice with the different types of coasters you can develop and introduce to the world. Planet Coaster‘s building mechanic is constructed particularly well, with players able to adjust each and every one of the pieces the way you want. Creating rides in Planet Coaster might be fun or feel simple at first but that doesn’t mean to say that it’s easy. One of the toughest parts of building a rollercoaster is ensuring your ride is exciting enough for visitors, but also not too intense or nauseating or you may find your guests refusing to ride them, which is not good for business. In order to discover where the flaws lie on your coaster, Planet Coaster introduces heatmaps, which detail spots along the track which may contain too much G-force. With this addition, players can note down needed changes in order to make the ride more suitable while keeping it entertaining. Alternatively, you could also construct a simple coaster that won’t attract any customers since you will still be able to ride it yourself with the implemented POV camera.
To give your theme park that extra touch of pizazz players can decorate the landscape with pre-built decorations, animatronics and special effects to make your park stand out against the competition. Players are also able to sculpt the terrain to any shape and form they desire and that’s one of the great things about this game, with Planet Coaster, the possibilities are simply endless. This feature is implemented in a manner that makes it easy to use and control, not to mention retaining your guest’s happiness as they queue in a line next to your bright decorations.
Another thing worth noting is that you can make blueprints of your creations, whether it is a decorative item a rollercoaster or a combination of the two. These blueprints can then be used in your other parks as well, or like myself, you can create a sandbox map to test your creations without wasting a penny. Players can also share their designs alongside entire theme parks on the steam workshop, where other players can enjoy your creations as you can theirs. If you are not a very creative person you can also use this to your advantage by taking inspiration from other players design ideas through the workshop to help you create a better looking theme park for yourself.
Planet Coaster is amazingly detailed with attractive graphics and the ability to ride your own coasters, which helps to make the game feel unbelievably immersive while offering players a wealth of options to create a unique theme park that suits all yours and your guest’s needs. With active visitors and all the freedom to make each park your own not to mention countless options for decorations and various rides makes Planet Coaster a near perfect simulation game, and with 3 game modes boasting different levels of challenge, Planet Coaster is very easy to pick up for people with different skill levels in simulation games.