I didn't think I'd get to play a theme park management game so soon into next gen but here's Planet Coaster: Console Edition.
As someone who almost exclusively plays their games on consoles, I don't often get to enjoy the latest and greatest simulation management games. Back in the PS2 era, I quickly became obsessed with Theme Park Roller Coaster which remains one of my favourite sim games for console. However, it isn't the year 2000 anymore no matter how much I want to go back to that time and the genre has obviously evolved a great deal since then. In fact, Planet Coaster: Console Edition is perhaps the most elaborate theme park management game ever created and it definitely captured my imagination after I went through its lengthy yet necessary tutorials. The first thing that blew me away about it is its visuals. It's a fantastically detailed and colourful game but the aspect that surprised me most is that you can zoom very far out and in to the point where you can see visitors' faces without any sort of graphical issues. Now, that's impressive!
When it comes to gameplay, Planet Coaster: Console Edition is a hands-on experience that'll appeal to hardcore simulation management fans who love tinkering with little details and beautifying every element of their park. Doing so takes a great deal of time so if you're a casual fan of the genre who just wants to quickly whip up a park and move on then you'll probably find yourself overwhelmed with what's expected of the player and also at the vast amount of options available to you. For example, you can alter buildings, create your own blueprints with bite-sized object assets, manage all sorts of financial aspects, and even monitor a particular visitor's thoughts then try to make them more satisfied. I'm not saying that you have to do all of these things but you'll still have to have a general grasp of what's going on if you want to optimize your park's reputation and profits. All of this should absolutely delight hardcore genre fans.
Of course, Planet Coaster also allows you to design your very own roller coasters. I found that being able to create a good one required a great deal of fine-tuning to the point where I wasn't having very much fun anymore but I imagine that those who enjoy obsessively crafting something for an extended period of time would love doing so, especially once they maximize excitement and minimize nausea which are elements of a top-notch coaster. Speaking of challenges, Planet Coaster: Console Edition is full of things to master such as campaign levels as well as scenarios with limitations that put the odds against you. If you'd like a more laidback time then you can have fun in sandbox mode which allows you to leisurely create the park of your dreams. Either way, there's no denying just how much content there is in this massive game. Plus, the amount of rides, shops, and scenery items is staggering and there's DLC, too.
Finally, I must mention that being able to play Planet Coaster: Console Edition effectively will require a great deal of patience and practice because playing with a controller is frankly cumbersome and unintuitive as it makes even the most mundane tasks a chore at times. Even after playing for hours, I was still struggling with navigating the menus and making adjustments to things. Now that I mention it, I'd like to discuss coaster creation a bit more as there could have been a couple of implementations in order to smooth out the process. For example, you have to ride the coaster in order to see its stats. I wish you could just have them on-hand so you can make adjustments live without having to keep testing at every significant step. I also wish the tutorials covered more because I regularly found myself asking, "Wait, how do I do this?" One instance is adjusting a coaster after you make it. That took me forever to figure out.
Planet Coaster: Console Edition is the kind of game that's great fun at its core but being able to get the most out of it will require a lot of patience. So, it's worth playing if you enjoy fine-tuning every intricacy of a park and don't mind getting used to its controls.
- + Deep gameplay that's full of intricacies and opportunities for customization
- + Impressive visuals, especially zoomed in
- + Loads of content and challenges
- - Playing with a controller is overly cumbersome and unintuitive
- - Creating worthwhile coasters requires a maddening amount of fine-tuning