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Chris Sawyer's original Roller Coaster Tycoon, released in 1999, was the beginning of the entire tycoon game craze. And with the release of Roller Coaster Tycoon, the bar and standard for tycoon games was set very high - to a level that few tycoon games have ever reached.Two generations later we have Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, a game created by Frontier and distributed by Atari. The game engine for Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 was completely overhauled from Roller Coaster Tycoon 2, putting the player into a 3D environment, which quickly became a blessing and curse for longtime Roller Coaster Tycoon fanatics. On one side, the new 3D environment and ability to ride the coasters was extremely incredible and detailed. But on the other hand, the type of computer and graphics card needed to run the game had to be close to state-of-the-art. People like me found ourselves dishing out $1649 to play the game ($1,400 for a new computer, $200 for a new graphics card, and $49 for the game).
Worth it? Absolutely, if you have the money. But for those who didn't it was a source of frustration trying to get the game to play.
What makes the Roller Coaster Tycoon series so successful is that most of the time the creators are not thinking, "let's see how difficult we can make this game," but rather "Let's see how fun we can make this game." And Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 is definitely fun (if you exceed the minimum requirements).
When you start Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, you are given three modes of play to select from: Tutorial Mode, Career Mode, or Sandbox Mode. Tutorial Mode allows you to learn how to play the game. Career Mode challenges you with various campaigns and levels of difficulty. Finally, Sandbox Mode is the long-time user requested feature to be allowed to build your own theme park without stipulations. Players have been requesting this for years and finally the creators listened.
Career Mode is the bulk of Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. You have 18 campaigns to complete and each campaign has three levels to complete (Apprentice, Entrepreneur, Tycoon). Every time you complete a level you get a bonus (more money, ride unlocked, or new campaign unlocked). Like with other installments of Roller Coaster Tycoon, your job is to build a theme park that guests will enjoy and spend lots of money at. Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 also has new objectives, like impressing VIPs that visit your park.
Unlike other games, the 3D graphics are something to be excited about in Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. From the sky and trees to coasters and peeps, the design of the game is quite amazing. And the game effortlessly flows between day and night with night time mode being a visual feast of lights, fireworks, and fun.
Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 has really evolved and once again takes it's place as the leader of all tycoon games. Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 is the type of game that other companies, like Microsoft with Zoo Tycoon 2, dream of making. A game that is innovative, FUN, highly interactive, and a blast to play for hours on end. The game goes to great lengths to personalize the experience. For example, there's a peep engine, where you can create your own family (along with the type of rides they like) and watch them enjoy your park. You can ride virtually any ride now (through the use of a "ride cam") and you can view fireworks from several different angles. The diversity in Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 is what makes it so fun to play.
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