Replay Value: 9
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Number Of Players: 1
The PCs are really known for their sim games such as Airport Tycoon, Railroad Tycoon, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Sim City 3000, Sim Theme Park, Theme Park Roller Coaster and many, many more. All of these sim games have sold remarkably well, and were all incredibly enjoyable, none of the games had any faltering qualities to them and that was the reason to their success stories. Now the one game from the list I mentioned above I would like to speak about is Theme Park Roller Coaster, it's a game in the "Sim" series which includes Sim City, Sim Ant, Theme Hospital and more. Theme Park Roller Coaster was first released on the PC to a good audience, although the game [and actually the series altogether] would have some heat with its biggest rival the Tycoon franchise, that includes games in a very similar fashion to the Sim series. Roller Coaster Tycoon was this competitive game, and it was every bit as good as Bullfrog's Theme Park game. Both games were incredibly deep, although I must say Tycoon was far deeper, but Theme Park had a few extras to somehow manage to overcome the Tycoon game and in my mind dominate. With the release of Theme Park Roller Coaster on the PS2, find out how this game competes to its PC counterpart and Roller Coaster Tycoon.
Visually I can't say that they push any aspect of the PS2's hardware. But that doesn't mean that the graphics are bad, not by any means at all. In-fact the PS2 version of Theme Park looks better than the PC, it's true. The textures are far more crisp and finely detailed than those in the PC game, PC enthusiasts may find that hard to believe but it's true. The textures aren't humongous, but they are exceptionally detailed with a lot of fine points to everything, the screenshots of the game should prove me right. Although you are playing through a God-like view, you can also zoom down and walk around your very own park, checking out peoples facial expressions after they get off a ride, it's a very nice feature that Bullfrog put into Theme Park, I really enjoy seeing the reactions of my visitors after they check out my ride. The characters may be a bit sparse as they are repeated far too many times, but they look very nice and the childish six-year old look is brought out remarkably, all of the kids look like kids. There are also janitors, researchers, security guards and other staff members, so children aren't the only beings you'll see walking around your park.
The atmosphere or the environments are great, after you get a couple of rides, concession stands and other features in your park, you will instantly notice how vibrant everything becomes, Bullfrog did an incredible job of creating the theme park feel successfully. There are four different theme parks, the first one will be the Lost Kingdom prehistoric theme, the second one which will need to be unlocked is the Halloween theme park, the third is Space Zone and the last is Land of Wonder. With all of the textures on screen at once, the frame rate hardly boggles, you may notice some extremely small slowdown, it isn't jerky, it's just the screen will move slightly slower, to the naked eye it isn't very noticeable. On the count of that there are also a few CG sequences to be found, but only when you access a theme park, they look nice for the most part but the characters could have used some smoothing. Superb visuals, the game may not push any limits but the game still looks nice.
While not exactly as deep as say Roller Coaster Tycoon, Theme Park seems to be aimed at more people than Tycoon was, with its easier learning curve. As you start the game off you will have the choice of only picking the Lost Kingdom park, the game will load for a good 40-45 seconds, but after that loading times will be completely eliminated and there won't be any to speak of. So by now you should be starring at a few blank acres of land that need roller coasters, rides, arcades, concession stands, and tons of other features. Unlike Tycoon where if you want to custom build a roller coaster you have to go through a lot of strain in increasing/decreasing land, in Theme Park the lands are leveled and allow you to build from the start, you can either take that as a positive of negative, but I'd call for positive. That was actually the number one reason why Tycoon sometimes ticked me off, increasing and decreasing land level was very annoying, took money from you, and it was time consuming, although that is why Tycoon is far more realistic than Theme Park. You will be able to choose from a variety of rides and other attractions in the beginning, and as you go on you will have to research new roller coasters, upgrades, food shops, features and other important necessities to keep your park running smoothly.
When you build a few rides, coasters, and stands, then it is time for the grand opening, set your price tag and let the people come in, but be careful setting the price tag too low isn't very smart because the ticket includes passes to all rides, so I suggest knocking the tag up to the triple digits, that is if you believe your park is worth the money. When you've had your grand opening you can check out your theme parks financial stats, although the graphs may be a bit hard to understand you may eventually learn them. Other than checking out financial info, you can take out a loan if you need one, or view pre-existing loans, all of this is done in the Laptop section by pressing Circle during the game. Hiring staff members is also key for a successful park, you'll need a pair of mechanics so that they can fix broken rides as fast as possible, security guards are a good addition, and putting a few security cameras wouldn't hurt either. Janitors are also a must if you want to keep your park tidy and organized, and entertainers if you want to keep the people waiting in line satisfied. Again I'll say that Theme Park may not be as deep as Tycoon, but the game is sure fun to play and extremely addictive.
In order to access the other three theme parks you will need do a good job with your first theme park and collect Gold Tickets as rewards that show you that your hard work on your theme park is paying off. If you collect enough in each stage you will be granted the opening of a new theme park. The replay value is quite possibly endless, you will find tons of things to do, you can zoom down into first person mode, explore your park, play some of the parks attractions and even ride your very own roller coasters. If you are not satisfied with the speed of your coaster, then go on ahead and change it by researching a few upgrades, and changing the speed of the ride by highlighting it. As you play the game an advisor will tell you what people are thinking about your park and your price point, he will also suggest a few ideas, but at times it's best to ignore him. Now Building your own roller coaster is nothing like building it in Tycoon, instead in Theme Park, you have a guideline of where you can place your next piece, if the cursor turns red then that area is restricted or you may need raise/tilt the rail, so that you can avoid the object in the way and continue the build. Of course while building a coaster, you can also create a few loops to boost the excitement of the ride more, and make your visitors come out very happy or nauseated, and that's where the bathrooms come in.
You absolutely MUST have bathrooms in your theme park, other wise your park can become the bathroom, if you catch my drift. You should at least have four to five all over the park, especially near rollercoasters and dizzying rides. Strategically placing food stands, and other stands is a good idea to make even more money, and if you want to cut back on the money your spending on food, you can go the McDonald's way and decrease the quality of your food by making it cheaper. Speaking of prices, you should be aware that your staff members will be furious if they aren't paid enough, and may even threaten to go on strike, so make sure you build your park successfully and keep your monthly income up so the staff would feel proud working for you. I feel like I'm missing a few points on Theme Park, but all I can say is that you owe it to yourself to check really consider purchasing Theme Park Roller Coaster, it is by far one of the best sim games, even if it isn't as deep as Tycoon.
There isn't any carnival-esque music to be heard off, but the screams of children on one of your roller coasters is pretty good. You will constantly hear burst of laughter, children 'yayying' as they ride on your attractions, the roller coaster sound effects also sound neat. While playing Theme Park, you will hear and see a black explanation point that tells you what is going on around the park, whether it would be someone littering, or a broken ride this guy tells you everything. Although he may suggest doing some stupid things so at times I suggest just not listening to him. To say the least the voice acting done by the exclamation point is pretty good, he doesn't stutter or lag in his speech, basically everything he says is on the fly.
Sadly the only thing wrong with the control is that you can't use a USB mouse, other than that the controls are easy and very good. In the right hand corner of the game you will see what button does what, and that will help you make quick and on the fly selections, instead of opening up ten different menus. The analog sticks are used for both moving the camera, panning the camera and zooming in and out of the park. The Dual Shock comes in when your riding a roller coaster, the faster the ride the harder the rumble, very smart of Bullfrog, very smart indeed.
Overall Theme Park Roller Coaster is a game not to be missed by those PS2 owners out there. The sheer amount of replay value should keep you going for months, the visuals are more advanced than the PC's, the gameplay is plain addictive, you can play this game for three hours straight and not know it. I found Theme Park to be one of PS2s best games, I really enjoy playing this game, and not once have I experianced a dull moment. With all of the gameplay features the game packs, the somewhat helful and yet annoying advisor, and the easy to learn controls, you'll be playing Theme Park for a very long time, ask your parents for this game this holiday season.