Theme parks, who doesn’t get a thrill out of waiting in line for a roller-coaster, asking yourself why the whole time, only to find yourself wanting to get right back on after? Planet Coaster is one of those games where the more effort you put into it, the more you get out of it, leading to the ability to create some parks that can become absolutely beautiful.
Planet Coaster is a title still in active development by Frontier Developments, and is available on PC through Steam; the game was released back on the 17th of November 2016 and continues to receive regular updates, adding more items and roller-coasters with even more available made by creators and modders on the Steam Workshop. This isn’t the first time that frontier has attempted a theme park creation simulator, with their last attempt being the third instalment of the Roller Coaster Tycoon franchise. The game was a huge success and, as a result, Planet Coaster takes everything that was loved from Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 and makes it even better.
The game features 3 different game modes. Career, Challenge and Sandbox; while the Challenge and Sandbox modes are fundamentally the same, with the same goals, there is an added need to manage your money while playing the Challenge mode, while in Sandbox, there are no monetary restrictions – You’re simply following the same core focus of Challenge mode, to better your park. The Career mode gives you partially built parks with goals to complete, ranging from finishing a roller-coaster, to focus on bringing more people into the park. To me, the Career mode feels like a little bit of an afterthought, while the maps look good and are designed for you to continue building the park in a way to finish objectives properly, the general feel is “We didn’t focus on this a lot”. Not that I’m complaining, of course – More content is good!
The reason I don’t complain is because of the resources that they piled into creating the building tools and models for use. The game features a small amount of prebuilt items, like houses themed around themes like sci-fi and the wild west; however where the game shines is giving you the ability to build anything from the ground up. Starting with blank walls of different types ranging from differing types of wood, to sheets of metal, and then the vast array of props to be able to theme the walls in any style you could think of, for example, start with a plane blank wall made of wood, add some windows themed for the wild west. Then we place some flooring in front of the wall to create a veranda. The veranda is edged out with a banister. Place a large door in the middle of the wall for sims to be able to walk through. A rocking chair is arranged on the front to with a small table with a candle on it. Behind one of the windows we place a torch to light it up. Round the back we use the terrain editing tools to create a mountain with a cave dug into it. Spread some spaceship parts around and there we have it, a façade for a roller-coaster.
It’s not just the things that can be created that can be impressive, the tools that you are given to be able to manipulate any of the models are amazing. You have full control over all the axis while also being able to rotate to any angle at will; want to embed something into the ground? All’s good, just slam it down into the ground. Want to create a Harry potter themed great hall with floating candles, hang at will? Go ahead. I realise now that I’m starting to sound like the Shamwow TV guy, so I’m just going to move on…
For me personally, I find that the greatest part of this game is the lighting. Lighting is one of those things that can change the mood and feel of something dramatically, you don’t want a horror house to be flooded with light to the point where you can see everything that’s about to come at you, on the other hand you don’t want a room so dark you can’t make out the detail of the items you’ve meticulously placed. The game offers the ability to place stage lights with the ability to change the filter colour to anything within the RGB scale thanks to a colour wheel. This means that any feeling isn’t far away; the prop lighting also does an amazing job, with street lights being effective at lighting things and other light sources such as controlled flames and electric currents – There’s more than enough variety to not disrupt the feel of your theming.
It’s obvious that the game is seriously well developed by a team that know exactly what they are doing. The game looks stunning right down to the tiniest details on the props but there are some things wrong with the game. For some people they don’t want to spend as much time as others may making buildings and props. The problem is that there isn’t a lot of prebuild items, the game assumes that you want to build pretty much everything from scratch. Not everyone has that patience (Me, for one…), but other than that this really is an amazing game. I’m going to give this game a final rating of 8.5.