Rollercoaster Tycoon 2
Rollercoaster Tycoon (RCT) first hit the games market in 1999 and was a fantastic success. I myself spent many hours pouring over this game trying to get everything just right. Added Attractions and Loopy Landscapes added to the addictive gameplay that kept fans screaming for more. Now Chris Sawyer, the game developer, has delighted fans world-wide on the release of Rollercoaster Tycoon 2. The question is how much of an attraction will RCT2 be for fans and newcomers alike?
One of the additions that fans have most wanted, (or should I say begged for?) was the ability to build a rollercoaster outside of a scenario, where time and money were unlimited. This feature can be found in Game Tools under Rollercoaster Designer. Here you can design tracks to your hearts content - just remember that the coasters will be ridden by your little visitors and we don't want them to turn too green. Imagine all those pinky-coloured splats to clean up afterward. Yuck! There's lots of new track elements too, you can now use banked downhill curves and slopes, for example.
The objectives for each scenario aren't very different from the original RCT or its expansion packs. For example, you still have to get X number of guests by year X, or a park rating of X, or repaying X amount on a loan. To make things more 'challenging' for us gamers, Chris has decided that we can no longer change the park admission fee, although you can still alter the ride fees. I found this quite peculiar, because all through the RCT series you have had this ability. All this has done is to add to your money worries as a very good source of income has been cut off.
You can play any scenario in any order, which means that you don't have to play through the 15 challenge levels prior to the Six Flags Parks, genuine 'real life' parks, of which there are 5. These are pretty spectacular and are a great way of getting straight into the thick of things. The challenge here is to run and improve a Six Flags park or to finish building the missing attractions while achieving the usual objectives: X guests by year X with a park rating of X.
One of the biggest disappointments, if not the biggest, is that the graphics have hardly changed since we first saw Rollercoaster almost 4 years ago. This may upset some people who have spent an awful lot of their hard-earned money on upgrading their PC to perform spectacularly, but for the majority I'm sure that they are as pleased as punch that RCT2 will run brilliantly on their ageing system. Why else should the graphics have been ignored other than through a conscious decision by Chris Sawyer to enable everyone to enjoy his creation?
Even though there has not been a significant improvement in graphical quality, you cannot argue with the improvements made to the scenery selection. What's on offer now is much more detailed than in previous versions of RCT, you can create theme parks with the vast array of scenery available. You can create tunnels using pre-designed walls, roofs and doors to increase a rides enjoyment level.
The selection interface for rides, kiosks, amenities, etc. has had a marvellous facelift. You can simply scroll down or across a screen to view all the different options. Whereas before, you might have had to open several windows before you found what you were looking for. The next point to add here is that there is so much more immediate choice in RCT2 than in any other versions. To a newcomer however, this choice may be a little daunting.
RCT2 has a very gently paced tutorial for beginners where you sit and follow the mouse cursor around the screen to show you the basics. It only lasts 5 minutes and is well worth a look before you start your first scenario, as are the tutorials for building a 'custom ride' or a 'rollercoaster'. The only problem with this Beginner tutorial is that it lulls you into a false sense of security. I say this because after several hours of very difficult gameplay, I had to restart the level. Yet when I went back to Loopy Landscapes, I completed the first scenario in about 20 minutes. Clearly not the best start for newcomers to RCT2.
All information in RCT2 is given in text with a clear and easy to read font in click off dialogue boxes. The messages you receive are stored in the 'recent message' log, which can be found by clicking on the date in the right hand corner. Deaf gamers miss out on the many improvements made to the sound effects of the coasters and the increased variety of music for the rides. Remember though to select which music style you would like for your attraction, as music will add to the visitors' enjoyment of the ride, which means a better park rating for you. There aren't any captions to indicate the visitors' screaming, however, you can click on a visitor to see how they felt about the ride they were last on. You'll also notice people jumping up and down if they really enjoyed themselves or throwing up if the ride was a bit much for them.
Overall Game Rating: 7.8/10 Overall, I was left with the feeling that newcomers will adore RCT2 but that the millions of dedicated fans will be disappointed paying £34.99 for improvements that could have been provided in an expansion disk.
Deaf Gamers comment: No problems at all for deaf gamers.