I longed dreamed that we would be able to play a Roller Coaster simulation game that completely took me away from reality. Now that dream came true with the Alpha release of Planet Coaster on the PC. The team over at Frontier served a real treat that has kept my attention to the fullest over the last week. Designing the craziest coasters, piecing together walls to create flamboyant structures and lighting the paths with plenty of Skull candle lit lamps! All of this is just a fraction of my experience with Planet Coaster. Okay so we have the Roller Coaster Tycoon series right? Yes we do! We can build, manage, change, manipulate, colour and design a plethora of rides, attractions, shops and more, so why is Planet Coaster any different? Frontier; the team behind Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 and new Planet Coaster built it from the ground up which means more intricate details within guests, rides, design abilities and more. The Alpha version of Planet Coaster is available now and if you’ve never heard of it or you feel indifferent about getting it, then this review might help seal the deal.
Planet Coaster Alpha serves up eleven plots across the globe for us to choose on which to build our dream Theme Park. Depending on which plot you choose; you’ll notice a wide and varied range of pre-built rides, shops, paths and attractions. For me I felt this provided a great window in to the sheer potential that could be achieved in Planet Coaster. Had there have been eleven blank parks to start with; it would have seemed very dull. Planet Coaster Alpha really provides us with that bit more from the start which was surprising considering this is an Alpha build. Pre-built coasters, unique neon signs (that can be placed on any building or ride entrance), huge castles with coasters twisting out of every window and more. Let’s not forget that every single one of the parks can be changed to suit your taste. The design possibilities seemed endless. . Needless to say that I am eagerly awaiting the Alpha Two release on 24th May 2016.
The developers over at Frontier have talked a lot about the park guests and how it’s our goal to entertain every single one of them. Every guest was designed to have their own personality, a certain level of cash in their pockets and it’s up to us to design the ultimate park to help future their spending habits! Frontier said:
We’ve created a living world where every guest is an individual with their own personality and money in their pocket. We’re giving you limitless freedom to build rides and scenery piece by piece, and to seamlessly blend them with your own hand-sculpted terrain. We’re building a connected global village where everyone can share in your creativity. And that’s just the start.
Ten years have passed since Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 came out and I think it’s fair to say that technology has evolved a lot since then. In Planet Coaster you can see and feel that evolution. Planet Coaster feels modern and alive compared to Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. Gameplay and animations seem incredibly fluid compared to the more clunky movements in Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. This can be seen particularly when you zoom out from your park as rides, guests and coasters simply continue to ungulate with no frame rate issues. Perhaps I’m one of the lucky ones that has not experienced any frame rate drops? It sounds too good to be true but this is an honest observation. Even in the more concentrated areas of the park I never noticed any screen lag. Bonus! I recall feeling very frustrated with Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 when things would get a little crazy on the screen and all of a sudden it felt like we’d launched in to some sort of slow motion park.
What about build mode?
I was worried about this as I struggled to grasp some of the Roller Coaster build mechanics in Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. Basic ride, item and shop placement is simple. You simply select if from the easy to navigate menu and drop it wherever you want. The more intricate details of building are based around a grid system in which items can be rotated on a 90 degree angle. More specifically if you hold down the ‘Z’ key a 360 degree placement wheel appear to make placing items much more specific. I really like this feature and it’s incredibly easy to use. I have to keep reminding myself that this is the Alpha because it’s just so unbelievable. You really have to play Planet Coaster to believe the possibilities that can be achieved. It’s one of those games that you think about all day at work and can’t to get home and play.
The all-important building of Roller Coasters is a much more user-friendly experience compared to building in Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. The Alpha has two coasters to choose from and four trains per design. Let’s stop right here. There’s a little trick to accessing the Roller Coaster build feature in Planet Coaster. I found this out by researching other Youtubers creations. To access it:
Go in to either Rides, Scenery or Building and select the magnifying glass tool. Type in ‘underconstruction’ all one word and lower case.
Voila! You can now build your first Roller Coaster in Planet Coster. As with any Roller Coaster designing attempt, it can take time to become accustomed to. My tip would be to use the Track Lock feature so that the camera moves to the next piece automatically. This feature will save you time and reduce your frustration!
What I’d like to see in the final game
We are a while off seeing the final game just yet. There’s another Alpha release that’s due on 24th May 2016. I’d love to see controller support for Planet Coaster. Currently it’s keyboard and mouse only which I’m not a huge fan of. Secondly, placing paths can be a complete nightmare at times as the path seems to want to curl off in the opposite direction to where you want it to go! Those two gripes are my only gripes from this current release which isn’t bad at all so if you're reading this Frontier, please take note!
As for the gamers; should you be buying Planet Coaster Alpha? If you decide to shell out the £49.99 now you will have access to alpha and all of the proceeding releases! There's no doubt in my mind this Planet Coaster is worth every penny. Go and get building now and Tweet me pictures of your park @Juicy Game Reviews and check out some of my initial gameplay below.
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