Rollercoaster Tycoon, and other games like Theme Park World were actually among some of my favourite games growing up, so I was really looking forward to getting some hands on time.
Rollercoaster Tycoon is a game that has tons of really quite serious issues. There’s very bad lag, almost to the point of being unplayable. The path placement, which works through supposedly optional grid snapping, is broken beyond words and removes any capacity for creative planning.
My main problem with this game isn’t the bugs or the lag. It’s the lack of control. Anytime you want to place something, the game fights you for it. At one point, it took me five whole minutes just to place a bathroom, because when the ghost of the structure goes near a path you’ve placed, it re-orients itself. So then, when you find the perfect spot, it lags, freezing your computer. When you click, it doesn’t do anything, so you move the mouse, and the game decides that you actually wanted to move where the object was going. Then when you finally move it back to where you wanted it, it refuses to re-orient. That’s kind of how the whole game works, it just seems to pick and choose when it’s going to work. You can do the same thing ten different times and each time you’ll find the game refusing to do what you want it to, on a completely nonsensical basis. There seems to be very little logic to how it works and to when it works.
When the game started to lag, I changed the settings, toning it down and thinking it might just be my computer. It had absolutely no effect, and no matter what I did, even if the lag improved slightly, it was still there and still just as much of an issue. While this is an Early Access, and that gives a lot of room for you to be a little generous, the amount of lag that’s in this is comparable to using a dial-up connection to play a modern online game. It’s horrendous and considering my childhood memories of playing older entries in the series, I have to say that I really can’t see this game improving too much past where it’s at.
Another problem I had with this game is the lack of features. There just isn’t all that much choice in terms of different rides, different shops and so on. The game does have a feature for downloading User Generated Content, which is a good idea for this sort of game. However, the lack of features suggests, at least to me and on the basis of this Early Access, that they’re kind of hoping that fans of the series, and modders, will do their work for them. The whole idea is a little bit offensive, especially when you consider that people are paying £29.99 for the privilege of playing a pretty poor game.
I do, however, have to say that I did quite like the roller coaster builder. There’s a decent selection of different types of coaster, and a decent amount of things such as brakes, boosters and so on to add your track, and the ability to change the colour of the track, the car and the start point is nice. None of it is mind-blowing, but it’s probably the best part of the whole game.
Other than that, there’s a bit of a problem with the controls. Half of the controls seem to be focused around using a mouse rather than a laptop touch pad, which might put some off, while the other half are built around a keyboard. You can’t even move around the park with your mouse, instead you have to use your keyboard. But don’t try and select a ride or building while you’re doing that, as the game seems to be quite sticky in how it manages your selections.
The developers do seem to be doing a decent job of updating things, with a graphics update released in the last couple of days. However, there seems to be a hell of a lot to improve, and I have my doubts about whether they can do enough to make this game worth the price.
It’s a real shame, RCTW’s Early Access could have been a really good way to pump people up for the full release, but whether the game becomes much, much better or not, it seems unlikely that many will stick about to find out. Many Steam reviews have been extremely critical, and it seems like this could have done some lasting damage to the legacy of Roller Coaster Tycoon.
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