For any PC gaming enthusiast the first answer they would give for the most successful tycoon series would be Rollercoaster Tycoon. The series had completely blown away other games of that genre at the time of its initial release in 1998, such as their main rival ‘Theme Park’, and still remains an iconic franchise to this day. However the last proper installment to the franchise; Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 was released in 2003 and we haven’t heard anything from it since, until now.
Atari has just released an initial gameplay trailer, showing fans of the franchise what the next installment will look like. But it seems that this game with a description of “it will take the RCT franchise soaring to new heights!” will instead be plummeting down towards the ground faster than most roller coasters. See for yourself.
Now the first time I saw that video, I honestly thought that the first five seconds were probably a part of the game but just re-rendered for visuals. Oh how I was wrong. As a fan of the franchise my heart sank when the real gameplay footage emerged. It has seemed that the developers of the game; Area 52, has learned absolutely nothing about graphical improvements since 2003 as it looks almost identical or in fact worse to its twelve year old predecessor.
The real culprits that are to blame is Atari. You see RCT:W was originally developed by a company known as Pipeworks Software, who, for the most part did all of the concepts, rendering and pretty much most of the game development. (As you can see in the images on this article.) However Atari kicked the company from development after Pipeworks wanted more development time and pulled in an almost unknown company; Area 52, to only completely redo the game in a completely different and far inferior game engine. I was going to forgive Atari when they announced that a full RCT PC game will be released after Rollercoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile hit rock bottom. (For many good reasons.) But if this is the final outcome, then my goodness they have a lot to answer for.
So, all the wrong reasons with the game. For a start the graphics. This has been picked up by virtually everyone who has seen the video and it is probably the main driving factor that has backfired drastically for this game. As I said, this game looks worse than Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, which was released in 2003. The only real ‘graphical improvement’ I can see is the people, yet even they are very blocky, basic and cartoony. The way the people walked in the video also appears very static and ‘on rails.’ The construction now has scaffolding for some reason, which could only indicate that stalls and rides will take time to build. Again the game has basic grid paths and no wide, curvy walkways that you get in pretty much every real life theme park. This one really gets me because in the first two RCT games, they were limited by code and early graphics, whilst RCT3 was limited by its grid layout and game engine. But now, in 2015, you can easily have the flexibility to mimic proper theme parks both structurally and graphically. There is also a second in the teaser at 0:26 you can see a piece of scenery clipping the footpath. There are two outcomes for this. 1. The game is nowhere near finished. 2. The game upon release will be full of bugs.
There is also the lack of the tilt shift graphics that you can see in the images (which were done by Pipeworks at the time.) It also seems that all of the character of the game that was made by Pipeworks has also been destroyed. Several months ago, Pipeworks mentioned that they wanted to relate the game to the Disney parks, especially with park mascots playing a bigger role. Was any of that seen in the teaser? Of course not.
But what about the good factors. Well, there may only be one. It seems that for the first time, Rollercoasters will now be fully 3D. What I mean by this is, they’re not limited to the grid layouts of which they were in the previous three games. In the teaser you can see the roller coaster (the in-game one, not Goliath from Six Flags at the beginning) that the track twists and turns far more fluidly than what you would get in Rollercoaster Tycoon 3.
But that’s it.
But I guess there can be one good outcome to all of this. The game will do terribly just like how RCT4M did and Atari will lose out greatly and possibly will go brankrupt. Who knows. What I do know is, for goodness sake do not buy this game! It is just a simple cash grab from Atari, everything it was meant to be is now no longer there and you’re better off purchasing all three previous titles of the series and have far more fun with them than this pile of junk. And if you REALLY want to play a new roller coaster/theme park game, I would highly recommend that you take a look at Theme Park Studio on Steam as that game has got everything right with what a theme park game should be like with current technology. (And you can customise EVERYTHING! And also has curvy/wide paths too!)