Planet Coaster Review
At the beginning of the year I released a video giving a preview of Planet Coaster and why it was creating so much interest in the gaming community. The video received a ton of attention and did a pretty good job of explaining the hopes and dreams of the new rollercoaster simulator.
Planet Coaster vs. Roller Coaster Tycoon World
Rollercoaster or theme park simulators have been around for a while. The most notable series of them all would have to be the Roller Coaster Tycoon series that was published by Atari. I’m going to go ahead and make a bold assumption that if you have ever played any of these games (and you probably did) that your favorite was Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. The game was published in 2004 and was developed by Frontier. They basically changed the series into something never seen before.
Why is this important?
There is another game that was just released this year as well, Roller Coaster Tycoon World. Published by Atari, you might think that this is the predecessor to Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 but you could not be more wrong. The game itself switched between three different companies before it was finally “finished.” I put quotes over that because the game is anything but finished. The developers basically saw what Planet Coaster was doing and decided to quickly release their unfinished game so they could get a few sales before the market was taken over. Don’t believe me? Simply do a search of the game on Google or YouTube and watch the reviews.
The team that is developing Planet Coaster? Frontier, the ones who designed the fan-favorite Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. They know what it takes to build a great game and that is exactly what they did.
The Best Simulator Ever
I know the title “The Best Simulator Ever” can be a bit of a reach, especially since there are tons of genres out there. But hear me out as I will do my best to make a case for it. I am THAT in love with this game.
Planet Coaster takes off right where Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 finished. The game is no longer played on a grid format, meaning your parks can take any turn, height, or direction you want. There is so much freedom to the game that it almost shocking when you reach the park border and aren’t allowed to expand any further. Scenery objects, buildings, decorations, trees, and anything else you can think of can be placed virtually anywhere. This game gives the player very few limits and most of the time your imagination can run wild.
The graphics alone should drive anyone to purchase this game. They are clean, stunning, and stylish. The visitors have a cartoonish appearance to them, but the rest of the park and scenery do not. I think one of the things that truly blow me away every time I see it is the lighting in this game. You are able to add lights and point them in any direction you want. You can change the color and add shadows by placing something in front of it if you so choose. The accuracy on this game engine is just stunning.
The coaster building is expansive and clean. Instead of clicking directions for prebuilt tracks to appear, the user has full control over the coaster. Every degree, lift, and drop can accurately be built in whatever fashion your heart desires. At first when I was watching the coasters be built I thought it would be much harder than what I was used to and that I wouldn’t like it. But that isn’t the case at all. It’s so natural feeling and gives you the additional accuracy needed to make the perfect coaster. The “auto-finish” button is still available which pleased me as I always get too lazy when it comes to getting back to the station.
There is no surprise that with all the freedom and ability to design amazing scenery that it would have some effect in game. The peeps (your park’s visitors) actually rate your park and rides better depending on if there is scenery around. My one complaint to this is that they really can’t tell the difference between scenery. If you just placed a ton of trees or a ton of rocks around a ride they would be content. I can’t imagine how they would be able to program the game in a way that they could differentiate what is pretty looking and what is not, but the feature does become obsolete rather quickly because real scenery isn’t necessary.
You don’t have to fear making ugly parks if you’re not good at designing scenery or buildings either. With Steam Workshop support, users are able to upload their “Blueprints” for other players to download and add into their game. At the moment, the Workshop does not allowed custom textures or 3D models, but I am positive that this will be an added feature down the line. Until then we are only able to download or subscribe to models that were built with pre-existing objects found in the game. It is still awesome to be able to find or share parks, rides, and buildings that you or your friends have built.
I do have a few complaints, however, on how the game could be fixed or altered to make it even better. The management features in-game lack, as far as charging prices, hiring employees, or overall day-to-day management. The game gives pretty useful information on the coaster that you have designed such as rating levels for fear, nausea, and excitement. A heat map can be created to show you at what parts the exact rating is. The issue with this is it is very finicky and even with high ratings on majority of the ride, the overall score will still be pretty low. I believe this is a bug and will be fixed soon.
Paths deserve a whole paragraph to themselves. While it is cool to be able to widen the path, turn it and and degree you want, or have multiple pathways to choose, they are nearly impossible to place how you want it. Everything else is so fluid and easy to use. You can make a coaster EXACTLY how you want, you can design buildings or scenery EXACTLY how you want, but as soon as you start to make the walkways for your visitors? Everything turns to hell. Paths, in my opinion, are still broken like they have been before the release. They are frustratingly hard to use and honestly make you wish you were back on the grid format. I know I was boasting about how free you are in this game. But without being able to put the baths down to direct your visitors exactly where to go, what is the point?
The last issue I have had is the camera controls. I’m not sure if this has to do with my novice experience with the game or if the camera controls are actually bad. I have issues with moving around or zooming in because the game actually has two different camera modes that you can toggle with “T”. This is a very minor issue however, as it doesn’t actually effect the game. I just like getting close and personal with my peeps and to see the view that they are looking at.
End Result: Buy It
While the game might have a few hiccups, it is still an overall amazing game. The use of an expanding workshop can add countless hours of fun and allow anyone to make their park look exciting and beautiful. You can share as many blueprints or parks as you want with your friends and the world. Use the freedom that Frontier has given you and make the best park you can!