Occasionally here at Player2.net.au, we will play something that deserves your attention but probably doesn’t need a full review written for it. Be it DLC for the latest AAA title, a little indie game or even an Android/iOS title. We play these titles for a blockbusting amount of time (2 – 5 hours) and report back to you the reader on what we found. So grab your popcorn and settle in for the latest episode of Blockbuster Gaming.
Blockbuster Gaming – Planet Coaster
Ever since I convinced my parents that the original Theme Park was an educational game when it first came out oh so many years ago I have had a huge amount of love for the theme park management sim genre. From the aforementioned Theme Park right through Rollercoaster Tycoon 1, 2 & 3, these games have taken countless hours from my life and filled them with exciting rides, sugary drinks and vomiting patrons. So when the creators of Rollercoaster Tycoon and the criminally underrated Zoo Tycoon on Xbox One announced a return to the genre with Planet Coaster I was naturally excited. Thankfully that excitement was warranted because Planet Coaster is the most fun I have had with any management sim in years.
Planet Coaster is, to be fair, not that different from the Rollercoaster Tycoon games of old. The goal is simple, build a successful theme park with the resources and equipment you have on hand. This involves building rides, creating food vendors, managing staff and balancing the budget. All of these activities are relatively easy to approach, especially if you are familiar with the old tycoon games like I am. Newbies need not fret however as there are some comprehensive and easy to understand tutorials and the campaign missions ramp the difficulty up at a nice pace to ensure that players get better as they play.
The real improvement in this game however, is the track design tools. In past titles it was often a painful process to design complicated coasters and track based rides, often causing frustration with the fiddly nature. Planet Coaster has simplified the process while retaining the ability to create some truly mind-bending and terrifying creations. This is all achieved with clever use of pre-designed track pieces and a simple to use mouse control system. In no time at all I had scared the pants off my guests with 2 corkscrews, a loop and a hairpin turn. The system also includes a handy “finish” function which completes the track so I can focus on making the cool bits and not worry about the boring, yet necessary, connecting the track to the starting platform. Frontier have made some smart choices here and in all, it is a great system that won’t scare players away with too much complexity.
The game also looks great, there is a lot of detail in all of the different backgrounds available and the rides themselves animate wonderfully. It is a game that will run on a huge range of systems as well with plenty of graphics options to tinker with so everyone with a semi-decent laptop or better will be able to enjoy the game. The lower settings miss a lot of the little touches that make Planet Coaster look so vibrant but the game is certainly playable on a low-end system.
Perhaps the only issue I have with the game is the management side of things seems a little uninspired. Not that it is bad mind you, just that it feels like it hasn’t changed or improved over previous theme park titles. There is a solid set of numbers to crunch, sliders to slide and staff to abuse but it is nothing fresh or exciting. It would have been nice to be able to seek government funding or create my own advertisements or even have the ability to train staff in multiple disciplines, just something that hasn’t been done before. Hopefully, some more management options are to come in future updates because they would really round out the entire experience.
With a lengthy campaign, some interesting challenge missions and the star of the show sandbox mode there is a lot to sink your teeth into with Planet Coaster. Not only does it look great, it is easily accessible and highly entertaining. Simply put Planet Coaster is the cream of the theme park simulator crop and should be on the shopping list for anyone that has enjoyed these games in the past. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Planet Coaster would be the perfect point for those who have never tried this style of game to get their feet wet. Now if you will excuse me, there is some vomit at the pirate ship and my roller coaster keeps breaking down, A theme park manager’s job is never done.