Put your hands in the airWhat is a theme park without the sound of hundreds of peeps milling about, from excited young ones going to the new coaster to screams of delight as children escape from the Crooked House? Well, it's still a theme park, but you get my point. The music in the game is still pretty varied, but no more is that festive carnival oom-pah music that would get stuck in your head at the beginning of the original. Now it's new-age, airy music that you would hear going to the fiftieth floor of a skyscraper. Not that it's bad, but for me it didn't really work with the tone of the game as well. Before you say, "Well if the music is bad then screw this game," keep reading. There is a way to put any song you want into the game through iTunes. Three cheers for Variety! So if you want the young 'uns to listen to death metal while riding Dodgems, go for it. Or what about forcing the peeps to listen to showtunes while standing in line for "Mega Death Coaster 5000?" Again though, those peeps judge everything, even your music. So if they don't like it, do what I do: pick them up and stick 'em in the lake. That'll show them. Mwah HA HA! Poo-poo my music will you?
Upside-down loopFor those of you who have never played a theme park simulation I'll give a little explanation. Basically you micro-manage your own theme park, from how much your ticket prices are to how many staff you will hire. You build rides, lines, and pathways as well as shops and eateries for people to spend their hard-earned cash. In the RollerCoaster Tycoon series everything you create can have a price. If you want people to have to pay to get on "Mega Death Coaster 5000," you can do that. Or, my favorite, make people pay to use the bathroom, which is a good way to get a little extra spending money if you have a bunch of bathrooms around the more nauseating rides.
For those who have played a theme park sim, the mechanics of building the park feels like it always has: find a ride you want to build, strategically set it somewhere, then build a line and exit connecting to a path. That's the basics of it. The difficult part is what do you put beside it or how much do you charge for this ride in comparison to the other rides, or how long should you wait before you start the ride and how many people should you load onto the ride before it starts? What about the color of the ride or theme of the ticket line? These concerns and more are all things you need to take into consideration when you build your ride.
Unlike another Mac theme park simulation, Sim Theme Park, gravity affects your rides. So let's say you're building a killer coaster (killer as in "awesomely fantastic," not as in killer = death). Anyway, you're building this killer coaster yet you don't make the car go fast enough to go over the next hill or around a bend. The coaster isn't just magically going to get over the next hill with invisible chains pulling it. It's going to slide back down to where it came from and keep rolling back and forth until its inertia brings it to a stop—a problem if there are peeps on the ride. A hilarious problem, but a problem nonetheless. This is where testing the ride comes in. When you test a ride it makes the ride go through its paces before you let any people on, and if there is a flaw it will show. Another feature Frontier slipped into RCT3 is that while the ride is running it actually can show you how fast your coaster goes, the ride's altitude, and other statistics. Then you can determine how large or small the thrill rating is and what the nausea factor is. If these are too high only the most daring of people will go on the ride.
RCT3 has a very different interface than the previous titles. Obviously the majority of the screen is your viewing window. This is where you can zoom in and out and place rides and fun activities like that. At the top of the screen you have a bar, which contains your message window that pops in and out almost like a printer. If you miss a message you can always drag it down to see what you missed. As of RCT3, you can now speed up the game. Similar to The Sims you have a pause button and three speeds after that which I will call normal, fast, and really fast. Then there is your standard money, date, and weather in the top bar as well. On the left side of the screen is a line of buttons that includes your finances, staff management, rides, research, and other building mechanics to effectively operate your park.
When you are placing/building a ride a circular window pops up in the lower left corner of the screen. From here you can build the track how you want or construct the entry and exit lines for your ride. Once done with that another window will appear in the lower right letting you open/test/close your ride, check the finances of the ride, change the color, call a mechanic, or ride the ride yourself. So basically you operate the ride how you see fit. Don't worry, once you have done that you can let loose and see how much the peeps enjoy it.