Title: Planet Coaster
Developer: Frontier Developments
Publisher: Frontier Developments
Genre: Management, Building, Simulation
Age Rating: E – Everyone, Crude humour, mild violence
Release Date: Out Now – 17/11/2016
Price: £29.99 – Rapid Reviews UK were very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What gamer does not get nostalgic when thinking of their past? All the great titles of the past that we wasted hours on, there were so many great titles, Goldeneye, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Mario Kart, Theme hospital, Sim City, Roller Coaster Tycoon, and this is just naming a select few. These games are timeless and even today still have a following. Why am I talking about previous titles in this review?
Well, in today’s gaming community, tapping into this nostalgic feeling is a market for profitable remakes or ‘remastered’ editions, Planet Coaster, however, is a game that has used inspiration from a previous title, Roller coaster Tycoon, and has reinvented it into something new. To start with, I installed the game and let it launch. I immediately loved the crisp colour theme the studio opted for and the catchy music they use to introduce their title.
The opening menu was easy to navigate around, and it was clear that the studio understood gamers wants because they included a community page and (a rather sizable) modding section. As in most simulation or city building games, Planet Coaster comes with levels with targets or a sandbox mode. Jumping straight in, I opted for the sandbox mode. I instantly knew I was going to enjoy this game.
The game gives you a map of your preference and starts by having a visitor entrance. The rest is up to you. Sculpt, build and layout the park as you wish. This freedom of choice was something that I found slightly overwhelming but incredibly exciting. I began thinking of the ultimate theme park and started laying paths and plotting out large sections that I would use for different themes. I started by building typical fairground rides, the teacups and the carousel, and watched as guests began arriving.
I found creating ride entrance and ride exit paths something that added to queuing times, and began changing and manipulating several aspects of my park to keep customers happy. I also began hiring staff to keep my park clean and safe. The multiple options for the staff and the rides meant I was incredibly busy and money seemed to build up as I fussed over colour schemes and names for my rides. Planet Coaster is a game that does bring back that nostalgic feeling of being in charge of your theme park just like Roller Coaster Tycoon, and as I played, I enjoyed building and creating my theme park for many, many hours.
Developed and published by Frontier Developments, a UK based gaming development company in Cambridge, Planet Coaster is an incredibly addictive and fun title that had me hooked for a long time, and it is also a game I know I will come back to time and time again to recreate my ultimate theme park. Available on Steam, Planet Coaster is tagged as a simulation, building management title. Drawing inspiration from previous classics such as theme hospital for its fun and Roller Coaster Tycoon for its theme, Planet Coaster is an excellent title that does deserve all the praise it gets.
One of the first things you’ll notice if watching or playing Planet Coaster is the visuals. They are stunning and well suited to the genre, the models of the visitors and staff are cartoonish but is incredibly effective, and the models of the trees, rides and animatronics are all well textured and modelled. I have also played this game on a low-end, and a high-end PC and both were able to play the game well, although the high-end PC was much more satisfying.
With the range of DLC that Frontier Developments have released including the new Ghostbusters add-on, the rides, customers and buildings all fit into the overall visual style, and this makes the game a joy to play. The extent to which the development team have created and maintained their visual style for Planet Coaster is part of why it has proven to be as popular as it is because each addition to the game is to an excellent standard and it is a joy just to watch your visitors particularly when it comes to the latter stages of a park when there are so many rides and scenes to look at.
When it comes to the interface and the UI, the options are clear and well laid out, making it easy to navigate between multiple menus. Visually areas such as lighting are incredibly simple because you have control over what light is used on rides, and all of these elements can be manipulated and controlled by the player. When it comes to visuals, graphics and effects, Planet Coaster and the numerous additions added by DLC, make it diverse, colourful and simply stunning.
The audio aspects of Planet Coaster mirror that of the visuals, they are excellent quality and they are fully customisable. If you fancy having a speaker to play pirate shanties in your adventure section, you can change the audio to pirate songs, if you want ghost noises, want just background ambience, all the sounds are there for you to place as you wish. It gives Planet Coaster the joy of being what you want it to look and sound like. The DLC again adds more layers of customising, and the Ghostbuster DLC particularly adds multiple songs, effects and atmosphere parts that make Planet Coaster a must play.
As a simulation, building management game, I think the game is tagged incorrectly. While I love building and customising my park down to rock and tree placement, I feel that some players may be misled, this game is most definitely a building game, but in terms of simulation and management, I think some players may find it a bit thin on the ground. Research leads to better rides and shops, but it doesn’t open up management options or any other features that could make this game more management orientated.
Theme park management comes down to you placing the buildings and props, hiring and training staff, changing ticket prices and other bits and pieces, now whilst this is all-important and is interesting to explore, I still didn’t get the feeling I was managing a theme park, more like I was laying out a theme park exactly how I wished. This also impacts the simulation too, I can see what a ride is like from a guests POV, and I am building a theme park, but I’m not making a really big decision that could make or break the park.
The gameplay is excellent because I enjoy building games and customisation, but for some players, the management side is not deep enough, and the game is too safe without really challenging players to make ‘big’ decisions. Adding in a board of directors who have conflicting views or disasters that can happen at any time or even being able to manipulate more than just ticket prices would take this game into the realm of classic.
Although I feel the management part of the game could do with improvement, there is no fault I think with the building and gameplay in general. The choices are plentiful, and there are some incredible buildings and rides. The story mode is about helping prebuilt parks attract more guests or build new rides and is entertaining, but the sandbox is where most players will end up. Being given a space that you are going to fill is tremendous and makes the park come alive as each time is a new experience.
The player starts with some available rides and researches to open up new rides and shops, and then you continue to build and research attracting new guests with each open ride. In the later stages of the game, it comes down to reinventing rides and queueing that can start to see your park creating a loss. This can become a real problem if left, as your park will spiral into debt, but as long as your profits are green, it isn’t a significant concern most of the time. The game is something I put many hours into and will probably continue to do so.
Another area worth mentioning is the DLC, now in the gaming community the word DLC makes people excited, and it is also cringeworthy. Unfortunately, long gone are the days where DLC was guaranteed to add life and excitement to a good base game. That being said, Frontier Developments have included numerous DLCs that add additional elements to the base game, and some are genuinely worth the price.
The newest addition comes in the form of a Ghostbusters DLC that adds a few rides and many (as much as 400) different scenes and props. It also introduces a new story mode and gives the player a sense of being involved in the Ghostbusters universe. Some of these new elements don’t move across into the sandbox mode, unfortunately, but they are still excellent additions. I thoroughly enjoyed the additional DLC and felt it add to an already fantastic base game.
Planet Coaster, dare I say it, was a real roller coaster ride. I found myself having that one more minute feeling, and that kept me playing. Once I had finished all the research and placed most of the rides, it was down to micromanaging. But, this was after a more than lengthy time, and it is well worth the price of the game for the hours of gameplay. The additional DLC added to the gameplay and prolongs the game by adding in different elements.
Planet Coaster has been called the spiritual successor of Roller Coaster Tycoon, but I think this is inaccurate. Planet Coaster is a theme park builder game, but I think it stands comfortably on its own merits. Frontier Developments have done an excellent job at creating an entertaining title with lots of room for growth and improvements in the future and have helped draw attention to a great development team. I will most definitely be playing Planet Coaster again, and no doubt will put many more hours in.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Planet Coaster on the Steam Workshop at the following link: