Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 is back on Steam. I repeat, Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 is back on Steam! I’m not sure what has transpired, but Frontier seems to have moved past the legal issues with Atari that resulted in Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 being removed from the Steam storefront. The classic theme park builder has been rebranded as Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 Complete Edition, with all Atari branding wiped from the game, and is once again available for purchase. The Complete Edition includes both the Soaked! and Wild! expansions, adding water rides and a safari element (can you be a better Joe Exotic?) to the base game. This newest edition also adds Full HD (1080p) support to the game, though ultra-wide and 4k support is still missing.
For the uninitiated, RCT3 Complete Edition is your typical tycoon genre building game. As the owner of an amusement park you start out with a handful of cash and must design a park that will appease guests of all ages. Whether trying to meet the objectives in one of the scenarios of Career mode or building your dream park in Sandbox mode, you are in charge of placing paths, plopping down rides and shops, and then choosing the aesthetics of your park from a variety of scenery themes. The selection of rides to choose from spans the entirety of amusement park history, including everything from a gentle merry-go-round all the way up to modern-day motion simulators.
Of course, your park’s main attractions will be the roller coasters. RCT3CE comes packed with pre-designed coasters that showcase the evolution of America’s favorite thrill ride through the decades. If you don’t want to stick to the pre-built coasters, you can take the reins and create your dream coaster with the included designer. Just remember that most park attendees don’t consider vomit or broken backs a good thing.
Let’s get one thing straight – this isn’t a remastered version of the original game. All of the bugs and glitches are still around but I haven’t had any crashes due to running an older game on new hardware so, at least for me, Frontier’s claim that they resolved many of the compatibility issues seems true. On the plus side, it appears that the unchanged coding means the mods and player-created content from previous iterations still work with the Complete Edition. My testing of this was minimal to say the least, so your mileage may vary.
We are still stuck with the low polygon count of the early 2000s. If you squint, tilt your head to the left, and hold your breath for at least 45 seconds then playing at 1080p resolution is a major improvement over all previous RCT3 versions. When viewing the game without doing any of those things you realize the only improvement to the visuals is the result of more pixels being thrown at the screen – the jaggies are a little less jagged. The addition of High Def doesn’t improve the textures, add any more colors, or somehow make the game stand toe to toe with the visuals of more recent games of the genre.
Given the limitations already pointed out, let’s address the elephant in the room. Why, with RCT3CE being what amounts to basically a re-release with 1080p support, would anyone waste their time with this game instead of picking up a more modern title, like Frontier’s own Planet Coaster? For a veteran player of the franchise, it could simply be they didn’t already have a copy of RCT3 on Steam. That isn’t a good reason if you’ve never played before.
For me, RCT3CE is just more accessible than the newer titles in the genre. The grid-based placement of buildings and rides in RCT may be more restrictive than the free form placement a game like Planet Coaster provides, but it’s also a heck of a lot easier. That means I can get my park set up quickly and then enjoy the management side of the game, an area where RCT3 arguably still shines. Choosing which rides and shops to add to your park, hiring staff members and designating the work zones, setting ticket prices to maximize profits, and then adjusting everything on the fly is what makes RCT3 the best theme park tycoon game of all time.
In the end, what we are getting with Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 Complete Edition is the chance for Frontier to bring this classic theme park builder back from the dead. If you don’t already have a copy of Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, or never tried the Soaked! or Wild! expansions, then picking up a copy of The Complete Edition is a no-brainer. For any veterans of the franchise that already purchased a copy of RCT 3 Platinum before it was ripped from the Steam store a few years ago, the only thing you are getting is the addition of full HD. Well, that and the ability to throw a $20 tip to Frontier while giving Atari the middle finger.
Note: A review copy of Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 Complete Edition on Steam was provided by PR.