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Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 Review

Ben_Silverman By:
Ben_Silverman
11/01/02
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE  
PLAYERS 1- 1 
PUBLISHER Infogrames 
DEVELOPER  
RELEASE DATE  
MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
E Contains No Descriptors

What do these ratings mean?

Round and round she goes...

One of my most prized geek items is a plaque commemorating the release of Rollercoaster Tycoon. They had a competition for the press, and by some startling twist of fate, I managed to win the "White Knuckle Award" for designing the most exciting coaster in 10 minutes. A proud moment, for sure, especially if your last name is Disney.

The date on that plaque reads March 19, 1999. The game came out a few weeks later, rose to the top of the PC sales charts and stayed there for a whopping two straight years. It was an undeniable smash hit and revived the ailing 'tycoon' genre.

Over the next few years, we saw a couple expansions and a few other coaster games. Though neither Sim Theme Park nor Ultimate Ride were very good, they both did something RCT did not - go full 3D and allow you to ride your rides. The competition might not have been fierce, but it was certainly knocking at the door.

So when Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 showed up at GR, I was thrilled. New graphics! New gameplay modes! A true sequel! Maybe even another plaque! This would be great.

Uh, no, it wouldn't. Apparently, Chris Sawyer and his design crew forgot that video games need to mature with the times, especially when a sequel is released nearly 4 years after the original. Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 recaptures the fun of its predecessor, but the difference between the two products is less noticeable than Classic Coke vs. New Coke.

That's not to say that things haven't improved, because they have. The most noticeable new addition is a Coaster Design tool that allows you to build rollercoasters in a blueprint mode. This was sorely missing from the original and was not included in the two expansions. It works nicely, letting you choose from a wealth of coaster styles and build them as large or small as you want without any care for costs. You can then save your ride and import it into any scenario, though at that point it will cost money.

Another new addition is the ability to design your own scenario with the Scenario Builder. Set the goals, the park size, the weather, even the types of rides that are available to players from the start. It works fine, though it's probably only going to be explored by the most die-hard fans.

Part of the reason behind this is the fact that the scenario challenge structure has been changed. You can now choose from Beginning, Intermediate or Expert parks without having to go sequentially, which really opens up the game and allows you to bypass the easier levels if you're a crack designer. And frankly, there's so much gameplay in here already that building your own scenarios seems a little over-the-top.

By way of a partnership with Six Flags, RCT 2 includes 5 actual Six Flags theme parks to mess with as well as 25 real Six Parks rides. Want to drop Colossus in the middle of your park? Go right ahead.

And while you're at it, feel free to drop tons of new scenery, new shops and new types of rides in as well. RCT 2 ups the amount of stuff to play with significantly, including all the goodies from the expansions as well as some brand new gear. This time around you can even tweak the color of your scenery, which leads to a ton of variety when it comes to building big gardens or fancy signs.

However, all this new stuff is marginalized by the fact that the game looks nearly identical to the original. In other words, it's 2D sprite city. The developers purport that the game engine has been rebuilt from the ground up, but unless you're a programmer, you'll hardly notice. The limited color palette and lack of any sort of remotely fresh textures or technology gives the game a decidedly old feel...which was the case when the original came out 4 years ago.

Graphics don't make the game, surely, but we've come to expect games to grow with the times. The menus look the same, the front end looks the same, the gameplay looks the same, the little visitors running around look the same...heck, even most of the cheat codes from the original work in this sequel. The 4-way rotating camera was fine in the original, but now just aggravates. No free camera movement? Nope.

The outdated look is a monstrous letdown, particularly in the face of the 3D competitors. It also means you still cannot ride your coasters. Sheesh, they even had a first-person camera when Chevy Chase was riding around in Walley World in the now-ancient Vacation.

So what we're left with is a sequel that captures all the fun of the original without really doing much different. That's fine if it comes out a year later, but considering that almost 4 years have passed and we've already seen some expansions, Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 is a disappointment. If you've never played the original, then by all means pick up this sequel. It costs a mere 30 bucks and contains all the goodies plus some nice extras. But the true tycoons out there needn't waste their money. You've been on this ride before.

B Revolution report card
  • Coaster Designer
  • Lots of new toys
  • It's
  • Which came out 4 years ago
  • Looks the same
  • Plays the same
  • This is not a sequel
    Reviews by other members
    No member reviews for the game.


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