Design your own dream theme park

If you're looking to relive the glory days of Rollercoaster Tycoon, this is your best bet.
If you're looking to relive the glory days of Rollercoaster Tycoon, this is your best bet.

THE big-ticket games right now, Dishonored 2, Battlefield 1, Call of Duty Infinity, might lead you to believe that variations on violence are the only way to be entertained these days.

Enter Planet Coaster, where nobody dies and, if you're any good, everybody has fun.

Planet Coaster is a sim game where you take the helm of theme parks and design and tweak them until they're overflowing with guests having the time of their lives.

You have three ways of playing Planet Coaster: career, sandbox, and challenge modes.

Career gets you going slowly, giving you progressively more involved theme parks you need to dive into and build up to different objectives. The first scenario feels straightforward enough, and by the time I'd completed the hard objective, I felt I had a grasp of the rather complex controls.

Sandbox dumps you into the deep end with a blank slate park and no restrictions on what you can build.

Challenge mode gives you a limited set of options and even more limited money and asks you to build your way up from there. Twitch streamers prove how creative this can be.

The controls aren't too difficult to start with and the shortcuts are handy when building your own rollercoasters.

But the creation of custom rides is where Planet Coaster shines. The methods are intuitive after not much experimentation, and the video tutorial sets you up nicely. The ability to plonk pre-made sections into your own track makes a big difference when you're just putting your toe in the water.

Being able to fine-tune each section of track to get the most excitement for the least nausea is rewarding in itself, but putting the whole package together with a theme and deftly positioned place in the park gives an enormous sense of achievement.

The library of items, themed set pieces and existing rides is just large enough to mean the initial steps into the game aren't oppressively complex. For people who play games like the Sims or Stardew Valley, the ability to pick and place should scratch a certain itch. This is even more the case when you take into account user-generated content through the Steam Workshop.

There's been some serious politics going on between Frontier, which created Planet Coaster, and Atari, which owns the Roller Coaster Tycoon franchise. The reviews coming back about the two games say that Planet Coaster is the spiritual successor to the much-loved Roller Coaster Tycoon franchise, and Roller Coaster Tycoon World is the lesser title.

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