From the first ever roller coaster game to the modern day, we can see a huge difference in how, over the years, this sub-genre of simulation gaming has changed and become something that will always be one of the most renowned sub-genres ever, and to be frank, Planet Coaster is one of the best on offer. Hi guys, Clarice here once again, bringing you another review – This time on the smash hit rollercoaster simulation that has taken over Steam, and my life.
From the developers who created RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, Frontier Developments has brought to us one of the best modern day Rollercoaster simulations to ever hit the market. Now I hear you ask “But why is it a great game? What makes Planet coaster so addicting and draws you back over and over again?”. Well it’s quite simple, it feels as if you are right there, in the park of your dreams, surrounded by happy families and thrill seeking teenagers – The graphics, the atmosphere, the wholesome feeling you get when you achieve that goal of running a successful park, all of this combined creates a sense that you are the owner and you are successful. It sounds oddly beautiful for being a simulation game and it doesn’t stop there – From being able to experience the rides for yourself to creating the perfect log flume, the possibilities are endless. With a good creative mind and a lot of time you can achieve the park that you want and the park that everyone loves.
Planet Coaster consists of 3 game modes, Career, Sandbox and Challenge. Three core, yet vital, elements that make this game suitable for all ages and skill levels. The first being a career mode; this is set into 4 categories, Beginner, Easy, Medium and Hard; this is then broke down into 3 levels, each having their own challenges and issues. Some will be completely open to changing the terrain where as others you have to work around a park that is given to you. Each level has 3 stars to obtain, through, you guessed it, completing each challenge on a set map – This is done in a more linear way, for example, a bronze challenge might be to obtain a month’s profit of £1,000 whereas the gold challenge might be to obtain £4,000. It’s done in a way where it teaches you what is a priority and what is a necessity when it comes to building your own park in either Sandbox or Challenge mode.
Sandbox and Challenge mode, although despite being practically the same, have key differences – Challenge mode is a lot harder, especially with Planet Coaster’s recent patch; because of this, money is a lot harder than normal, visitors get more needy, and staff get crankier, whereas sandbox mode is pure fun, creating without having to worry about money. Challenge mode means you have to strategize and plan everything in advance; now you see why Career mode is essential, since not only does it teach you how to play, but you will learn how to prioritize certain aspects and when to create your first coaster.
The game doesn’t just rely on the different modes or even the playful graphics, its core fundamental mechanics are what glue everything together seamlessly and creates a clear and fluent experience. If you compare this game to its’ so called ‘competition’ RollerCoaster Tycoon World, you can see exactly why and how Planet Coaster surpasses RollerCoaster Tycoon World. Despite the fact that RollerCoaster Tycoon World had been one of the most anticipated games for 12 years, it didn’t hold up considering that Rollercoaster Tycoon was the basically the Founding Father of Rollercoaster Simulation games; unfortunatley the founder and creator now is no more but a few hundred players on steam, but why is that? Why is the spiritual successor to Rollercoaster Tycoon so much better than the legendary franchise itself? To put it in perspective, Rollercoaster Tycoon not only butchered its’ own mechanics, such as the removal of ‘Researching’, but is riddled with technical and visual glitches abound – It lags and even crashes at the basic stages of loading a level; the joy of creating has been severely slaughtered to even the extent that you can’t place a new building opposite of an existing one. Whether this is just a bug or an in game feature, it doesn’t work with what this franchise was or how it should be and what Tycoon World lacks, Planet Coaster has, which in reality is generally sad. Planet coaster is like a breath of fresh air, a new take on simulation, becoming the next generation to revive this genre into something much bigger and bolder, a right step in Rollercoaster Simulation experiences.
Although I am singing high praises of this game, it is not without its faults – A common issue with all users is when presented with a lot of objects and a fully built park, it does drastically cut down the performance and makes it incredibly laggy; I have no doubt that they will most likely add an update to fix the performance issue, but for now it does make an impact on the gameplay and breaks the immersion, which for me is really disappointing but this can always be fixed. Another issue is when it comes to increasing the scenery percentage, well I say issue, this is more of a pet peeve, to increase ones scenery it’s just a simple case of placing random flora and objects – This doesn’t really give that much of a challenge or even act as a necessity to make the scenery look amazing, but this is down to player to player. One more thing that I must point out is the business side of things; it all comes down to knowing where and when to place more rides, workers and stalls to increase your profit, and if you’re in a bit of a tiff, take out a loan. Unfortunately it is just that easy.
Overall Planet Coaster has resurrected the Rollercoaster Sim genre from an early grave, and gave it new life – A bit of TLC and a lot of love and care and I can definitely say that this is the game for anyone who enjoys a good bit of creating. I would rate Planet Coaster a 9 / 10, personally.