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Aspyr Media
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RollerCoaster Tycoon 3
August 5, 2005 | Dustin Smith

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Pretty, shmitty (almost…but I didn't now did I?). Who cares about "pretty?" Well a lot of people, but by this point you're wondering what's new about the game. How does it play? From the looks of it (and this is just a first look at the game, by the way), it's going to be "Worlds of Fun." Let's start with the camera. Aside from wandering around your park like one of your peeps you can ride the rides in first person mode or flip the camera around to watch your peeps enjoy the roller coaster. Then you can watch them empty the contents of their stomach onto the ground. Let's see…blueberry funnel cake, ice cream, bits of a balloon…wait a second! Speaking of peeps, The Sims gives a hint to RCT3. You can take peeps and give them clothes and stuff so you can track them around like a little stalker. Forget just having one, though: design and equip a group of peeps and watch as your teen group screams and bolts for the first hard-hitting coaster to empty their stomachs before lunch time. Or watch as the new parents hug and kiss, patiently waiting for their toddler to get off the rides specifically designed for little tykes. Yes, different groups interact differently around the park. If your park starts getting invaded by teens and thrill seeking whipper-snappers you better have erected some coasters. But if families with little chitlins (yes, I said chitlins) start paying their entrance fees you might want to be thinking about taming it down. You can also set up stations for your groups to take pictures. Just like real life…well, at least in my family. "Let's all gather around the sign and take a picture!"

Every so often a VIP peep will come into the park. Now then, we all know that celebrity gossip goes a long way and it is no different in RCT3. Impress the VIP and you've got yourself a damn good park…plus a slew of new peeps just waiting to sit where Louie Anderson sat on the "Route 666" roller coaster. No, Louie Anderson is not in the game…well, I don't think so anyway. You could make a Louie Anderson peep though!

For those of you familiar with the original you can still change the color of your ride to suit your park's color scheme so it isn't the same ride over and over. Your rides can have little additions as well called "ride events." Think of the Universal Studio's studio lot tour: you're in a little tram with an underpaid tour guide and suddenly…a SHARK explodes out of the water next to you, splashing you and the hot girl sitting on your right. Ride events. Trust me when I say there is more than the shark. Your concessions get more advanced, too. Now you can research whether to put a little lemon wedge or umbrella in your drinks…seriously. But who needs to research a lemon wedge?

The meat of the game lies in the campaign mode. You can take on different objectives in five differently themed parks: generic, spooky, adventure, western, and sci-fi. Objectives range in tiered difficulties from having a certain number of people in your park to getting a specific park rating by such and such a date, becoming more and more impossible as you set your crosshairs for the fabled "Tycoon" status. RCT3 also introduces the Sandbox mode, brand new to the series. Sandbox mode gives you unlimited money and unlimited potential to design your Uberpark.

And what about the fireworks? There is a fireworks MixMaster in the game that lets you control your own pyrotechnic displays, from the shape of the explosion to the hues of the fireworks themselves.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 is looking like one heck of a game. Five colorful themes; more micromanagement; a fireworks MixMaster; day, night, and weather effects; hundreds of peeps; unique rides; a campaign of increasing difficulty; and a sandbox mode. What more could you want in a theme park sim? Well, other than the RollerCoaster Tycoon 3:Soaked! expansion to come to Mac, but this will definitely be enough to tide you over.

Trivia time: what semi-recent movie has the main character riding through a horror theme ride at a carnival/fair called "Route 666?" You don't win anything if you get it; I was just wondering who knew.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3
Publisher: Aspyr Media
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