Got a crazy idea for a Theme Park or Roller Coaster in your head? You can build it! Looking for some seriously in-depth park management and simulation? You might want to look elsewhere.
The Theme Park management/sim genre is having something of a mini revival this year with three different games coming out. Planet Coaster from Frontier and the guys behind the original Roller Coaster Tycoon series is one of them and promises the future of coaster park simulation games has arrived! Surprise, delight and thrill incredible crowds as you build your coaster park empire – let your imagination run wild, and share your success with the world.
It’s hard not to be drawn in by the charm and feel of Planet Coaster, I don’t know how else to describe it, but everything just feels so happy about the game, hearing the theme music, seeing the guests faces it all makes me smile. The visual style of the game is extremely pretty to look at and the amount of detail put in to the game is quite staggering – individual guests feel like actual individuals all with different looks, shapes and sizes, parks feel alive and immersive and it looks quite stunning too.
The last Coaster game I really played was RCT2, I had 3, but it didn’t ever have the same appeal to me for some reason. I would spend hours on RCT2 trying to create the best parks in sandbox mode, that is where my focus would always be. Sure I tried out some of the scenarios and played through a few, but for me building a park without restrictions was always what kept me entertained and that is definitely the case with Planet Coaster.
There are scenarios for you to complete, and there is a challenge mode, but to be completely honest the scenarios are pretty easy to complete.
Right from the off, you never really feel like you’re up against it when trying to build a park, guests – who arrive in hordes, seem happy to be spending £15 just to go on a merry go round, the money seems to roll in and really it’s just a matter of time before you reach your goals in order to complete the level. Each level has 3 stars for you to obtain, each one requiring you to put in slightly more time and effort in order to achieve them. But it never feels all that difficult; it feels like you’re always going to complete your objectives it’s just a matter of when.
But what Planet Coaster lacks in management it certainly more than makes up for it in creativity. Personally I think the sandbox mode and the amount of customisation you can do is where the game really shines. When I first played the sandbox mode I spent the first few hours just making a park entrance, it must have taken me around 3 hours before I’d even put down my first ride and my creativity pales in comparison to others – you only have to browse the Steam workshop for a couple of minutes to realise this.
You can create buildings and rides from scratch, placing individual wall pieces then layering up windows, doors, flower boxes, signs, and lights – the list goes on. It’s once you start to realise these details that you can really start to go mad with things. My first few buildings were fairly bland, I didn’t add many other details to them, just bog standard walls, roofs and maybe a plant or two, but then I started to add in pillars on corners, windows and doors and soon you’d have something that would add so much character to your park.
It really doesn’t take too much effort to give your park a little character and you can go as in-depth with it as you like, but if you just want to build rides and keep things simple, or maybe you don’t have the time to spend 6 hours creating the greatest entrance to a park the world has ever seen, then you can absolutely do that or you can download items from the steam workshop with a simple click of the button. There are already hundreds of amazing creations you can easily add to your own parks.
The terraforming tools are also very good for creating interesting parks, you can easily carve out caves and tunnels and create large mountains or canyons. With the option of various locations for your park like sandy deserts, to lush forest areas and then park themes like Pirate, Fantasy and Sci Fi you really can make almost anything you want. There seems to be a lot of room for future themes and items to be added – we’ve already seen some updates come with new items. Whether we will continue to see this or whether some bigger updates will come with a price tag remains to be seen.
With regards to the performance of the game I’ve seen no major issues, the frame rate feels smooth with it only really starting to slow a little once you get a park full of objects. I haven’t encountered any serious glitches or bugs, the camera is a little janky at times making it a little annoying trying to get the right view on things, but once you get used to it; generally it’s fine. Overall it’s a solid gameplay experience!
For me and my play style Planet Coaster is an amazing game offering up some an almost unlimited opportunity for creating. But I know there are others who are more in to the management side of things and if that is you, then you might want to hold off for a while and see how things develop over the next few months as changes to make things more challenging are coming, they just aren’t quite there yet.
Planet Coaster is out now for £29.99 on Steam and I think it’s well worth the price.