Game Over Online ~ RollerCoaster Tycoon 2

GameOver Game Reviews - RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 (c) Infogrames, Reviewed by - Rorschach

Game & Publisher RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 (c) Infogrames
System Requirements Windows, Pentium II 300MHz, 64MB RAM, 120MB HDD, 4X CD-ROM
Overall Rating 62%
Date Published Wednesday, October 30th, 2002 at 12:38 PM

Divider Left By: Rorschach Divider Right

Did you play Rollercoaster Tycoon? Did you live Rollercoaster Tycoon? Did you spend untold hours supervising your groundkeepers as they mowed the lawns, watered the gardens, and mopped up vomit? Did you devote more time to monitoring a virtual amusement park income sheet than balancing your own checkbook? Did you ever forego sex because you had just opened the newest ride or attraction at your amusement park, and you didn’t want the miss the first group of riders getting off and jumping for joy? You have? Wow, that’s really sick. Seriously. Just how much time have you lost down the sucking void that is Rollercoaster Tycoon? If the answer is “more than you would care to admit” or any of the above questions describes you, then you’re going to love Rollercoaster Tycoon 2. How can I be so sure? Because it’s exactly the same effing game, that’s how!

At first I thought that it was some kind of mistake, that someone had slipped me a copy of the first Rollercoaster Tycoon to see if I was paying attention, but then this top secret internal memo from the marketing department of Infogrames was sent to me by an anonymous source.

From: Marketing Department
To: Sequel Development Department
Re: RCT2

As you begin development on the sequel to our award-winning and blockbuster-selling Rollercoaster Tycoon, I’d like to take the opportunity to remind you that, well, Rollercoaster Tycoon was an award winner and a blockbuster seller. In creating the sequel, we must be careful not to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. We must not alienate our core audience. We have to work smarter, not harder, and, while you’re at it, maximize a few paradigms. As my dearly departed father used to say, most recently and tragically about the brakes to his car, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

In short, don’t change anything. Leave the graphics and gameplay elements alone. More rides, more parks that’s what our consumers want. Crank out another set of missions, maybe thirty or so, and it’s good to go. I know you can get fan-created levels all over the web, but ours will be official, and official is always better. Oh, and we just signed a lucrative marketing deal with Six Flags, so make a few of the parks just like real Six Flags parks and put all the Six Flags rollercoasters into the rollercoaster library.

I heard a rumor in the executive washroom that a lot of you are calling this an expansion pack. For the last time, it’s not an expansion pack! The little number ‘2’ next to the title means it’s a sequel. So cut it out. Don’t make us remove the soda vending machines from the building again like we did during the ‘naked chick running through the park’ programming glitch.

Duane “Fragfest” Kibbler
Grand Marketing Poobah

P.S. We ship on Tuesday.

OK, so no such memo exists, probably, but that’s pretty much the way things went. For those of you who never played Rollercoaster Tycoon, you build an amusement park from the ground up, design the rides (or use rides from the extensive library), lay them out, decide what to charge to ride them all, and work to keep your guests happy and your park solvent. So, what, in fact, is new in Rollercoaster Tycoon 2? There are some new rides, but it’s been awhile since I played the last Rollercoaster Tycoon, so I’m not sure which ones are new. It seems to me that there are a lot of new food and concession stands, most notably a first aid station which cuts down on the amount of vomit that you have to mop up, and an ATM, so customers can get more money inside the park. There is also a lava landscape, which in the scheme of the game functions sort of as a weather effect, which is to say that it has almost no effect at all. Patrons are just as willing to take a paddleboat out on a lava lake as they were to go on a flume ride when it’s zero degrees out and snowing. They have also added some new patron behaviors, like they will look up at rollercoasters and other rides as they walk around the park. In the general white noise of 2000 people wandering around a park, the new activities are hardly noticeable. And you can now play the parks in any order you like, instead of having to complete one park to ‘unlock’ the next one (like that’s nothing any cheat program available on the web couldn’t do for you already). Probably some of the theming is also new, but who the hell can remember? As I play through the game, the only thing of substance that they’ve done that I can see is a very slight change to the rollercoaster construction portion. Don’t get all excited it’s not that different. You can now design an entire rollercoaster, using the same design tool as before, outside of the game, save it, and load it into the game when you want to use it. It’s slightly better, but still suffers from all the terrain and landscaping issues as before.

I don’t know what’s going on over at Infogrames. After the creation of Rollercoaster Tycoon they slapped together a sequel to make a quick buck, which is nothing greatly disgraceful and lots of game companies do it. Then they made sequel to the sequel. I don’t have the sales figures in front of me, but the 2nd sequel couldn’t have sold as well as the 1st, nor the 1st as well as the original. And now this thing comes out. They could have at least improved the rollercoaster construction system, which was arguably the worst part of Rollercoaster Tycoon, in that it relied on you opening a separate interface to raise, lower, and generally neaten up the ground because the rollercoaster tool often did such a poor job.

They say there’s a new engine under the hood; that’s it incompatible with all your old Rollercoaster Tycoon scenarios, but I think that was primarily a choice on their part, not something that occurred because of a programming necessity. The game now supports much larger park sizes, but I personally feel that their sort of magically simple control scheme becomes geometrically more clunky as the park size increases, and I find it more of a challenge to build a really well laid out park in a small area than just sort of throwing one out into a sprawl. There are also a bunch of tiny changes, like you can select music for individual rides and apply custom paint jobs, and some of the scenery interacts with the rides, like doors that swing open and closed, and you can build scenery a several stories high. Does anyone see this as earth-shatteringly new stuff? Evolutionary, not revolutionary. Maybe not even evolutionary.

I’m seriously torn about this game. I’ve played the first Rollercoaster Tycoon and all its expansion packs absolutely to death. I’m not an expert; I don’t wring every last penny out of my park, and my maintenance people don’t even mow the lawns, and I’ve never, under any circumstances, forgone sex. And yet, by Loopy Landscapes it was all starting to run a little thin. The graphics started to look tired, and there’s only so much vomit you can mop up before it ceases to be fun. I don’t know why they released this game and called it Rollercoaster Tycoon 2. Did they think that by naming it Rollercoaster Tycoon 2, as opposed to Rollercoaster Tycoon V1.3.4c, that it would sell better? It’s a mystery wrapped in a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a corn tortilla. But don’t you fall for that tortilla, no matter how deeply they fry it or how much cheese they put on top (I seriously have to get me some dinner).

Here’s a direct quote from my review of Loopy Landscapes:

“I think Hasbro needs to be very cautious about returning to this well too often (Hello, Tomb Raider). While I liked this one, I don’t think I’d receive RCT XP3 as kindly.”

And let’s face it, all thing considered what we have here is Rollercoaster Tycoon XP3. I gave the last one 87%, and I’m giving this one a 62%, and if they release this game again and call it Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, I’ll knock another 25% off the rating. They can’t complain that I didn’t warn them.

(34/50) Gameplay
(05/10) Graphics
(06/10) Sounds
(08/10) Controls
(08/10) Replayability
(01/10) Originality


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