Welcome back to Roller Coaster Tycoon. If you remember anything about the first game, then you'll know everything about this version. Right off the bat, the only big difference is larger parks to put your fiendish death coasters into. Other than that, there are minor difference here and there such as now your patrons will take photos of cool stuff like coasters. They can now seek out a first aide station if they feel very sick and if they run out of cash, there's always an automatic teller machine! You'll also find a coaster designer out of game. Other than that, the difficulty seems to have gotten ramped up from the previous game. There are no easy victories here, but its not about the victory, since all 58 scenarios are unlocked from the start. Because this is Triple Thrill Pack, its not just RCT2, but its got all three expansion packs in one dirt cheap price.
For anyone that doesn't know, Roller Coaster Tycoon 1 and 2 are theme park management games that let you build roller coasters and plop down attractions in an isometric view. What really makes RCT stand out more than any other management game is the fact that you indeed design your own roller coasters! Its fun and easy, first select the type of attraction, then put down a platform and you can make it as long or short as you want. Then in most cases make a lift hill, then some turns, drops, ups and downs, spirals, loops, a helix, a cobra roll and so on. Every type of coaster has different trains, tracks, and specifics.
After you're done with your coaster, make an entrance and an exit. Don't forget a line cue to your entrance. This is for everyone waiting in line. A long line cue means boredom sets in and you might need to hire a mascot to entertain them as they wait. Having beautiful decorations also helps keep people entertained. There are many different themes to enable. Even more with the three expansion packs! Perhaps too many, but having so much lets you create something you want.
Rides get broken down into three ratings. Excitement, intensity and nausea. To boost excitement, add more decorations, set it next to another ride if not through another ride. Every visitor has their own preference. some can tolerate high nausea, others want low intensity and so on. The tighter the turns, the higher the nausea rating. When someone comes out of your ride they can be sick. So from there have benches waiting for them to rest and regain their composure otherwise they'll heave on the ground and then you'll need handymen tot clean it up.
You can hire an array of staff, handymen, mechanics, entertainers and security. Then assign them each to have a patrol. Its a nice system to cover a lot of ground. Handymen and other staff have check boxes to determine what you want them to do, stuff like water gardens, clear out trash and mow lawns. Its all your choice.
If you don't want to build coasters, there are pre-built designs that you can plop down, but you can reap the benefits by making your own custom coaster. You can make it dip down into the ground for a tunnel, hang over water and contour it to the hills and valleys of your land to save money.
There's even a new feature in RCT2 that will let you design your own coaster without needing to build it right there on the fly in a theme park. This is a money saving feature, because building one in your theme park still costs you money and you might run out. The only problem with using the design editor is that if you need to use the tool, you'll need to save your game, drop out of it, go back into the menu, select the design tool, open it up, make a coaster, save it, get out of the editor, jump back into your save game and then plop down your custom coaster as a pre-built. Some people just want to design coasters, they don't want all the frills of managing an entire park and the coaster designer lets you do that. RCT2 cares about those people.
I mentioned the 58 scenarios, each one puts you into a pre-existing area, such as a castle, an airfield, and yes even the moon itself. It definitely adds a lot of flair and character that the original game lacked without expansion packs. While these environments are big, detailed and beautiful on their own, I feel like its too much to just start out in. You've got dozens of paths going everywhere when all you need to start is a quarter of a gigantic park. So then to keep from having your visitors walk all over the place, you'll put down barricades over your paths that don't let them cross.
Each one of these scenarios has different conditions to win. Everything from get X amount of dollars in Y amount of years to having X amount of patrons in your park by year Y. There's a lot of variety and between the conditions and the environments, it keeps the game interesting and fresh from park to park. It gives me a reason to keep playing, because one year in the game is an hour in real life. These scenarios often last 3+ years, making for what could be a 175 hour game and that's assuming you stop playing a scenario when you complete it! You can keep going on and on to your heart's content.
The longer you go, the more your rides will break down. A new ride draws more people while an old ride, just feels stale and familiar. That's why you can save the ride, bulldoze it for some money and rebuild it again at full price! Its not just fictional parks in Africa or medieval times, there's a section of real life parks from the late 90s. Six real life parks including Magic Mountain and others owned by Six Flags.
Outside of roller coasters, log rides and anything else with a track, there are lesser rides that you can just plop down and make an entrance and an exit to. You can customize the entrances with themes and customize the paths, ground height, water, plants and so on. It all costs a price of course, but you can make exactly what you want to. Speaking of that, if you want to turn your roller coasters into death traps go for it! Its one of the fun things about the game. Make a power launch roller coaster shoot people off the rails sending them to their demise! Don't expect anyone to ever ride the coaster ever again, even after you fix it! Cowards.
Your guests will need to eat, drink and go to the bathroom, so don't forget to place vendors in strategic locations. They'll need places to sit and garbage cans too. There is a wide array of shops too, sunglasses, T-shirts, caps and balloons to sell. Place them where people are happiest and they'll spend for sure.
You'll get to manage the park's finances, but you won't get lost or overwhelmed. Its all pretty easy. You can quickly take out a cheap loan from the bank if you need money. You can spend money on advertising for the park, specific rides or other such things and they have a great impact on your visitors. To unlock new attractions, you'll need to put money into research. The more money per month, the quicker rides will be enabled in the scenario.
With everything said, RCT2 like its predecessor is a relaxing time sink that you can enjoy for decades like I did. I was still playing RCT2 on CD-ROM before it came to Steam! There's something here for management fans, coaster buffs and creation enthusiasts. While I feel like the vanilla version of RCT2 didn't have that many parks for the original price tag, the three included expansion packs make it a much better game.