Planet Coaster: Console Edition — Review
Follow Genre: casual, simulation, strategy, construction, management
Developer: Frontier Developments, plc.
Publisher: Frontier Developments, plc.
Platform: PC, Mac, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5
Tested on: PS4

Planet Coaster: Console Edition — Review

Site Score
8.8
Good: clear instructions/tutorials, fantastic voice-overs, colorful, keyboard/mouse option available
Bad: overwhelming UI, sometimes difficult to navigate with controller
User Score
10.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Buckle up, buckaroo! We’re going on a wild ride. Planet Coaster, a construction and management simulation about theme parks, has now set its rails on consoles. The game, developed and published by Frontier Developments, was first released worldwide in November of 2016 for Windows PC and Mac and it was very well received by players. Since then, the roller coaster cart of success hasn’t stopped riding.

Story

The delight of Planet Coaster is the ability for you, the player, to create your own story and to build the coaster park of your dreams. It can be unique, quirky, breathtaking, or just downright a hot mess. But as park manager, you have the blueprint in hand. Whatever your skill level might be, you can bring your own ideas to life in whatever game mode you play in. There are three game modes to be played in total: challenge, career, and sandbox.

Graphics

What’s more fun than building the theme park of your dreams? Well, the fact that you can see everything play out in detail, from attractions to the scenery and the little visitors who are enjoying it all. And all that is possible when you can zoom in quite close while everything is still detailed in fairly high quality. It’s also nice not having a fixed camera angle so you can move your view around as much as you please. It’s a great way to take in the colorful, lively environment you have created.

Sound

What stands out the most about the sound in Planet Coaster are the amazing voice-overs that guide you through the tutorial. These characters sound very genuine and make learning much more amusing. Tutorials can get very boring and long-winded, making you skip important explanations you wish you hadn’t later in the game. Not in this game, however. These voices are surprisingly quite entertaining, making the tutorial much more bearable, perhaps even enjoyable.

Besides the pleasant voiced characters, the game is accompanied by basic but realistic environmental sounds of the attractions and crowd, among other things. This makes you think as if you’re actually there in the park. These sounds and their volume can easily be adjusted in the settings menu.

Gameplay

The game has multiple game modes: career, challenge, and sandbox. This is great if you’re not feeling all that creative and need more guidance or purpose in the gameplay. It doesn’t matter what game mode you choose to play, Planet Coaster is still a construction and management/strategy sim at its core. So the overall gameplay stays the same in any mode which is building and managing the park.

In ‘career’ mode, you embark on a career in theme park management. You are given all kinds of scenarios that are varied and increasingly challenging the further you advance in the game. For example ‘Festive Funlands’, where players are given a small loan in advance to build a festive park in a snowy location. The challenge here is to stay within the budget and bring in enough profit to pay off the loan.

Every scenario has three objectives to complete. At completion, the player will be awarded a bronze, silver, or gold star based on the difficulty of the objective. These stars go towards the player’s career level and help you climb to the top.

There’s also the ‘challenge’ mode. This is for players who would like to build an amusement park empire from the ground up. ‘Challenge’ mode has three difficulties: easy, medium, and hard. The player starts with a minimal amount of money, different rides, coasters, and facilities, different rates of guest’s happiness loss, statistics, etc., depending on the level’s difficulty. If the park is not proving to be self-sufficient, players can take out loans for improvements and attempt to increase the value of the park. 

Then finally you have ‘sandbox’ mode. Here, it’s all about constructing your park however you like. Luckily, you don’t have to necessarily build everything from scratch as you can take advantage of pre-existing blueprints to quickly place over 700 pre-made objects, including coasters, facilities, and scenery. You can build from the ground up with detailed piece-by-piece construction, or you can fully transform the ground itself with terrain-altering tools. You can also download from other creators via the online Frontier Workshop. The latter is actually recommended since building paths or rails can be a hell of a chore sometimes because of the grid snapping. In the end, no matter what, it is your choice what to place, where to place, and how the park will eventually look like. It’s a total free-play in the unrestricted ‘sandbox’ mode.

All this seems like a handful and well… it is. It’s not just about placing buildings and attractions but also managing it all. You have to look out for sufficient maintenance, staff, budget, visitor’s needs, etc. ALL of this has to be presented on your screen, making the interface a bit messy. There are so many options and buttons and tabs which can be very overwhelming at first glance, and since your PS4 controller is limited, many controls have to be combined. It is definitely recommended to do the tutorial to ease you into the gameplay.

Don’t get discouraged, however, because Planet Coaster has something that a lot of other games don’t have on consoles, and that is the option to play the game with mouse and keyboard! Yes, that’s right. If you’re not a big fan of simulation games on consoles because of the controller, you can now easily put it aside and enjoy the mouse/keyboard support. What a corkscrew-like twist! If you’re stuck playing with a controller, don’t fret, it’s very manageable, but grid-snapping for parths and placing items at the right angle can be a bit tedious at times.

Conclusion

We all have that doubt in our minds about simulation games on consoles: Surely it will be hell to navigate with a controller. Well, you’re partially right. The grid-snapping for e.g. paths can be a nightmare and placing buildings or attractions at the right angle isn’t always that great either. Then again, the developers make up for it with the mouse and keyboard support. Besides this minor bump in the tracks, Planet Coaster is an amazing game, especially if you were into the early Rollercoaster Tycoon franchise. Not having a beast gaming PC isn’t a good excuse anymore. The game is great for a leisurely playthrough in ‘sandbox’ mode and it’s a nice enough challenge in the other game modes. It’s appreciated to have multiple options. Overall, Planet Coaster is just an enjoyable game. 

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Planet Coaster: Console Edition — Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
JenRox


“Keep your friends close, but your memes even closer”.

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