- Developer: Frontier Developments
- Publisher: Frontier Developments
- Genre: Simulation, Strategy
- Release Date: 17 November 2016
- Platforms: Windows
- Supplied By: Frontier Developments
Once upon a time when we were in our youth, there was a game that we either played or knew someone that played it. That game, was Roller Coaster Tycoon (or if you weren’t ‘on brand’ there was Theme Park World). Alongside us, these games grew up, went to University, got degrees and settled down. Years later they created a beautiful baby called Planet Coaster. Now, this child must live out the unlived lives of its parent’s, luckily it has amazing developers by its side to help it do that.
Okay, metaphors aside, Planet Coaster is the new Roller Coaster Tycoon, simple as that. With it’s awesome graphics, pretty much on point A.I. and creative (but sometimes frustrating) building tools, it’s quickly becoming the most awesome theme park simulator game yet. I will happily admit that I have put AT LEAST 24+ hours into this game. My friends miss me…… I hope.
I was lucky enough to get this game as an Alpha so I had a head start on building my “masterpiece” of a park. Unfortunately, in Alpha there were no clear instructions on how to use the controls properly so I just added and deleted at will in sandbox mode and hoped that people would enjoy my park. Now that the game is officially released (hoorah) there are multiple videos and pop up instructions that you can view at will and can easily be located. So, building a park has never been easier to follow! However, when the game came out as a full release I was no longer able to use my alpha park to its full potential! They changed the entrance mechanic within the game and didn’t let me place an entrance in my old park, so long DisneyWorld mark 2, you’ll be sorely missed!
The game is an amazing feat, as we are all familiar with a theme park simulator in one way or another it is a great achievement to release not only a fully working simulator but a slightly addictive up to date version. Planet coaster allows the player to personalise their own avatar and jump straight into the world of theme park management. You get multiple choices, you can either go into Career mode which sets you different challenges with each park you go into. You can go into Sandbox mode which is what it says on the tin, you are given unlimited funds and a blank slate to paint your theme park dream onto. Or you can choose Challenge mode where the stakes are high and the parks are harder than ever to maintain and money is a key factor.
Planet Coaster allows the user to not only focus on building an amazing theme park, but also keep the theme park relevant and interesting for the ever changing A.I. Obviously to have a successful theme park you must have visitors, and the visitors within this game are all procedural generated NPC’s. To ensure that your theme park is ticking all your visitors boxes you can not only view your own (extremely in depth) park management system which shows you everything from visitor’s thoughts to detailed finances for the previous year, but you can click each visitor to see how much money they are carrying, who they came to the park with, what they are carrying in each hand and their aptitude to fear, nausea and excitement on rides. The management system within this game is so detailed that most of the analytics went straight over my head.
The control system that this game has can be extremely frustrating at times when you want it to work for you. Whilst placing things within your park there are popups that appear that show you the basic controls, however sometimes when you are placing a new ride the camera can have a mini freak out if you press the wrong button and zoom straight into the ground you’re placing it on. One thing you must remember, there are simple ways of placing objects, and then if you click “x” the controls go into “advanced mode”. This is where you can specify the tiniest of rotations within your object to ensure that it fits flush with the wall you want to place it on.
One great thing about PC gaming nowadays is the community that each game can easily create by using Steam as their sales platform. Planet Coaster has used this to their advantage by allowing their community to utilise Steam Workshop to share their creations. This allows lazy so and so’s (like me) who can’t be bothered to put 5+ hours in building that perfect toilet block to scroll through other people’s creations and place them into their own parks. How these people have the patience to sit there and place every single wood panel onto a roof will always escape me, but kudos to them!
For all you hardcore theme park managers out there you’ll want to know about the intricate little details. How easy is it to customise my roller coasters? What props are available? What about terrain management, can I change the ground colour? Can I upload my own music into a roller-coaster? What about shops, are there any? And the prices, is it real world prices or in-game monetary value? Okay, chill with your 20 questions! Without waffling on too much and boring the ears off your face all I can say is that the limits are non-existent within this game. You want a roller coaster that looks like a dragon? Do it. You want to make your theme park weaved in and out of a giant mountain? Do it. You want a burger store shaped like a giant cow. BUILD IT! The customisation within this game is limitless and beautiful.
All in all, Planet Coaster is an addictive theme park management simulation game which I have spent what feels like most of my adult life playing. The alpha was an amazing experience but in my opinion it seems that they have rush released the full game. Planet Coaster allows the user to let their imagination run wild and create all manner of theme parks that they want. The management system is a bit too detailed in my opinion but others may love that, I just don’t have a head for numbers! If you loved Roller Coaster Tycoon and Theme Park World back in the day, then you’ll love Planet Coaster. Just be prepared to stay up late into the night just because that one roller-coaster needs a bit more tweaking.