"Mark Paul" Sebar
Where does one begin? It seems that every 6 months or so, Atari dazzles us with lots of neat new things. So its no surprise that Atari decided the second add-on expansion pack should have Wild Animal capabilities that it adds to the RCT3 base. With that thought I was quite anxious to see what all the lion roars and hoopla was about so I went out and purchased a copy of Wild, to further expand what has at times been a bug riddled RCT3 game base mixed with great excitement. Now this doesnt mean that RCT3 is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it does offer players an escape when it works, and when it does work, it works quite well. One could claim that RCT3 is a fine wine that gets better with age. One of the things this game has longed for, and hopefully Atari will add, is a repair option on the CD menu. This is because the game has many files and, well you PC people know, the MS Operating system and "check-disk" can send a few files here or there to their doom, so a repair feature is a necessity for any Windows based application, so I am surprised this has not yet been added yet!
Lets look at the Wild expansion much like we do a famous Clint Eastwood movie "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly". Bear in mind that the ugly was kind of good too. So to get the bad out of the way I shall start on that first (grins for Ken Allen).
Perhaps my complaint most of all is that of the water transportation rides or as some might call them in the movie "The Bad". I have said all along that this type of ride is a waste as it now stands so it was to my dismay that the long requested River Steamboat is a ferry and nothing more. Another disappointment is that there still is no basic Grand Carousel in the game. There is a mini animal-go-round, but here too a Loof Grand Carousel with hand carved animals would have filled the bill much better. The Eyerly Loop-O-Plane ride. The model is close but no cigar. It is inaccurate in a few ways and the ride spins way too slow for the real thing. Also the startup sequence for the ride is wrong. The ride starts by winding up several times before a complete spin is achieved. Go to any place that has this ride and you will see that the Frontier designers were not quite on the design and implementation ball where this ride is concerned. Also the length of the ride that has the counter balance on it is shorter than the length that holds the rockets at least this is how it has been in real life, and considering how detailed and well executed the other flat rides are, it is clear this ride was neglected as a new ride. Basically these are my peeves or as we call them the bad, and when you analyze them each can be corrected in the next expansion, so they are not that bad at all.
For instance the water transport rides could become very functional if the wizards at Frontier could add an underwater invisible path, that users can make the boats follow, from the start to the end of the dock station. The Eyerly Loop-O-Plane though will probably take some considerable work to get it right!
Now for the Ugly. I can see David Braben with the old "Blame it on the Poly count" routine. OK lets do that, but first, that Steamboat is the ugliest and at the same time cutest boat I have ever witnessed. The animation of the paddlewheel is quite remarkable. Anyhow those ugly little niches aside, we start to see a great expansion emerging. The Riverboats steam stacks are quite nice and a view under the water of the paddlewheel is quite majestic to indeed watch. Up close, the boat is still, well, cute, but quite ugly. Trust me when I say it looks better at a distance, the further the better. But it is nice to watch, just too bad it isnt a traditional ride.
The "Wild" expansion is about animals and there are a lot of things in it to keep the user quite busy and for quite a very long time. You can build fences and you than place the animals in their pens, than erect an observation deck where your peeps get to pay to watch the animals...lovely! My question is why would peeps want to watch the animals from atop when they could easily gaze through the fence? Well, I suppose everyone needs to make a profit here or there. But this does work extremely well and I experienced a great amount of fun-time creating the pen, placing animals and watching the fun. In fact when you drop the animals into the play pens, they arrive in a box which breaks open with really cool graphics and than the animal emerges. Its important to study the needs of the animal by clicking on them. Each animal also has a ride cam built in and by clicking on this you can see exactly what the animal sees. It was interesting but I do have to admit it wore out quickly too. By the way the animals crap a lot! Make sure you have enough keepers to clean up after them. Keepers come with shelters and this is another aspect. You must choose a shelter to reduce the stress on the animals. They sleep in the shelters and perhaps do a few other hidden things too? You can add animals by gender. This becomes important and also increases your tasks in wild as too many animals can cause problems. But adding genders also can increase your quantity of animals. You can sell the animals off as this happens and pocket the difference, or turn the animals loose to a release button and gain brownie points somewhere? Another thing are many different toy objects and when you release them into the pen, they distract and create happier healthier animals, so the more the merrier.
The Elephant ride is quite nice and I can see using this in a future park of mine. The Jungle Jeep ride included follows a dirt track. Besides this, the elephant ride and jeep ride offer you many new twists, for example you can drive safely through the different animal compounds or even take a Jurassic style ride with previous and newly existing dinosaur animatronics. This offers a new angle to the game add-on and something else to keep you busy with your creativity making parks, or just enjoying previously constructed parks the community will provide.
There are several shows, for instance, a lion show and a tiger show. You can modify them both in the Mix Master with different tasks, and save and exchange those shows with other users. Add some jungle music and you have something neat. I enjoyed greatly watching both shows though watching the Tigers was a bit more exciting for me personally.
If you fail to care for the animals they can be taken away at a financial loss to your park. Something even worse. The fences surrounding your exhibits can also become dilapidated and cause the animals to escape and this in turn can cause you to lose customers. But not to worry. You can use a Sikorsky C-64 Sky Crane with a tranquilizer gun and bag the animals so they can safely be returned to their pen. All I can say is wow, they added a shooting gallery to the game as well, a type of game within the game. I found the game to be quite exciting where the animal elements are concerned and I feel that this can keep one busy for quite a while. Of course those uninterested in animals and animal parks will forego this and get straight to the new rides. But one last note on the animals and animal themes. One area of concern is it would have been better perhaps to also include many animatronic animals too, rather than giant bugs. These would have been excellent along with a missing Jungle Cruise Boat ride or a Safari Dark Ride. Anyhow did I mention the game has some long requested rides. These alone add a lot of value to it.
Its been requested for a very long time and finally "Tada" a Giant Wheel has finally been included. How majestic to sit back and watch the wheel loaded up with peeps. They all load in and off it goes. The wheel is especially great to watch at night and it finally fills a long requested void "drooled over" by the RCT community for a very long time. Speaking of Tada you also get the Tagada, a Huss Jump which also is quite amazing to sit back and gaze at. A long requested ride that was on RCT2 filler by "The Amazing Earl", the Tilt-A-Whirl, and an Eyerly Roll-O-Plane to compliment the Eyerly Loop-O-Plane. Where the Loop-O-Plane Model is botched and wrong, the Roll-O-Plane upholds great dignity and it even has the head tilt to make the ride fly semi-horizontal at a 45 degree angle, a very rare treat since most ROP technicians and ride operators only use the ride in full vertical mode. Another long requested ride that has been missing is a Flying Bobs type ride in this case called the Thunder Bobs. It even goes in reverse too, for added excitement. The model for this and implementation are awesome, throw in some tunes and it is a great ride. By the way, I can see Frontier changing scenery and a few details around and making other theme rides off this model.
There are many other flat rides, however there wouldnt be a tradition here if we didnt have the mixed bag of coasters and what odd coasters they are at that. Even with the new coasters and gimmicks the woodie is still my sentimental favorite.
There are I am told some bugs in the release of Wild at the time of this writing, though it did work quite well on my aging old AMD 1.4Ghz processor, and this considering a Pentium III 1Ghz processor is now required minimum to run RCT3 with the Wild expansion pack added. This begins to up the ante a bit, though the game still played pretty well for me. However I did notice a slight slow down when it hit about 800 peeps and a smattering of rides. The slowdown was at about 1100 peeps and a woodie and about ten flat rides in soaked and even lessened in RCT3 by itself so with Wild the game bogs a bit more, but not as much as widely reported by some others.
A new type of step in the "Jonquil" direction is the signs. The game has new signs and you can import most any format picture file. This means you can make custom signs to share and create a unique park and theme areas, and in addition you can also draw more attention.
So where does Wild take the platform? Well it naturally takes the RCT3 platform to a new level and greatly expands the game in many new ways. Throw in some additional theming with African scenery, new building pieces, and animated Dinosaurs and you have quite a lot to work with. But again I must ask where is the animal animatronics, Jungle Cruise Boats (which would have been a natural particularly for this expansion pack) and why did a Steamboat need to be a transport ride rather than a scenic ride? Still, as I sit and play the RCT3 platform, Wild is a great solid value and I think it adds enough to keep the RCT3 juggernaut going for a long time. Just the fun with the animals, plus the many new rides, both coasters and flat rides, importation of pictures to unique new signs, stalls and game play add enough excitement to provide hours of exploration and fun for the entire family.
The RCT3 franchise is also important in another way. It doesnt involve killing and shooting things, but rather an escape that both adults and children can share alike and it produces creativity from the individual. This is why RCT3, Soaked and now Wild are amazing, and as aforementioned, like a classy, smooth fine wine of great value, RCT3 keeps getting better with age. The problems plaguing Soaked and Wild for the most part should soon be fixed by a massive patch as of this writing, and in future expansions the minor ride concerns should be addressed too, so now the question becomes, what will the next expansion be called.....? Perhaps Retro, or Blizzard, or Glamour? Well for now, we can all have fun and go WILD with Ataris newest expansion.
I give Wild a major thumbs up for the community and customer base, and I believe it is a great value that the users will come to enjoy for a very long time.