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Okay then, this is your opportunity to get your own back (no I don't mean vomit into the wind) on all of those horrendously scary, but amazingly wild Fairground rides. You get to plan them, construct them and even more fun, charge people to ride on them; once you have tested them for safety of course!!

ROLLER COASTER TYCOON 3 is, as you may have surmised from its numerical name, the third in the series of build-your-own roller-coaster park games; it follows on from the original Atari 2004 theme-park simulation.

You can play a predetermined scenario whereby your cash in controlled and you sign up to complete a number of Attractions to specifics denoted on your demand sheet. You can, and I think it's more fun, also play the free-rein sandbox game where you have a massive area in which to build and virtually unlimited funds to construct whatever you want to. Let your imagination run wild.

Here is your chance to build the roller-coasters of your dreams/nightmares. You can save them, export them to other players games and import them from other players, and if my information is correct, from other sources as well.

Your design is an as-you-go project built in fully dimensional 3D. You can flip the screen up, down and over, and sideways so that you get to view your construction from every angle, so close up you can almost count the nuts & bolts that hold it together.

There are several changes, mostly all good (in fact I can't think of any that are not good), from the other games in the series.  Instead of just watching the rides you have created you can actually ride them by electing to view through the ride-cam, you can move or remove whole rides and you can open your park day and night.

Peeps, the folks that enter your park, come in all shapes and sizes and demographics, often grouping together by type and age, and naturally, teenagers are your best evening attendees as they just love the creepy night rides. You do have opening time limitations to adhere to so think about all you do, in fact while playing don't ever stop thinking.

In earlier games Peeps could die when accidents happened, but in ROLLER COASTER TYCOON 3 they escape death, though they may suffer injury (watch out for the odd limb flying across the screen*)

The 3D graphics are good but the closer you zoom in the better and more realistic they appear. When building it is imperative that you continually roll around your construction as from side on view it may look like tracks, for example, are level, when in fact they are often misaligned. I found this out the hard way.

You can choose from various materials, wood, metal etc, and from a menu of different car and theme styles. You are more often than not spoiled for choice so rather than just pick one and start building take the time to design your rides, even if only mentally, though putting a rough illustration on paper (especially if you are at all artistic) prior to beginning construction, can aid you and make it a lot quicker in the long run. There are also many 3D visuals that sweeten the appearance of the rides; using these is a satisfying way of showing your commitment to the attraction.

'Soaked' and 'Wild' are expansions that allow for the building of Water Parks and different water features and rides and for the inclusion of animal enclosures. These extensions come with the Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 package. They allow you to build up parks like Chessington Zoo (aka Chessington World of Adventure) where everyone is catered for; the young, old, animal lovers and thrill seekers.

There is so much that you can do, so much to savour and enjoy. It's even fun sitting and watching someone play with you giving them ideas or discussing possibilities between you. It doesn't matter whose fingers are on the buttonsthey are only the means by which your dreams come true.

No matter how 'safe' you make your park accidents will occur. Carts will crash or fly off rides. Stachions may crack or break, rails may buckle. Anything can happen as always does in this type of game, just when you think things are going well for you they go t**s up.

There are many hours and almost non-stop experiences in this game. Don't approach it laccadaisically or expect it to be totally easy to pick up on what to do. The buttons and menus are all there but I didn't find them as instinctive as many games and I continually find myself making mistakes and having to go back.

What I am trying to point out is that this is a game you must put your mind to and your heart in, it is not a run of the mill strategy game but it does throw out some fun and intriguing challenges.

Mission ending can mean success, but the real success comes from the satisfaction of what you create. You cannot control the weather, but your choice and construction of rides can control the number of visitors, and a nultitude of visitors means an influx of cash and thus the capacity to build bigger and better, though as already pointed out, in the 'sandbox' mode you have free reign and thus your 'game success' is the completion of something that you are personally satisfied with.

Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 is an excellent game to keep returning to. It may not have the excitement factor of a first-person shooter but it does have the thrill factor as you test the nerves and bravery of your Peeps with more dramatic, higher, steeper and twistier drops and rolls.

Personally I love roller-coasters, though my actual body cannot take the strain and pressures now (results of severe accidents past) so being able to 'ride' on my own designs has given me back some of the missed fun times.                                   

* only joking


© Chris Baylis 2011-2015