Theme Park 2
Some five years after the original world-conquering Theme Park was released, developers Bullfrog have revealed that work is now well under way on the sequel.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, the ground-breaking game that launched the Guildford-based developers' 'Designer' series required you to design and maintain a commercially viable fun park, and at the same time send rival parks bankrupt by fair means or foul. Cutesy cartoon-style graphics, impressive artificial intelligence and an imaginative range of rides and money-grabbing attractions and restaurants made it an instant worldwide hit thanks to its mass-market appeal.
Various personnel at Bullfrog have always maintained that they would like to bring the game bang up to date, and now, thanks to the advancement in 3D technology, that desire has become a reality.
"We've built on the success of the original Theme Park game using the best that design and technology have to offer," maintains Jeff Gamon, the sequel's Producer. "Building and managing the park is only half the fun; what everyone really wants to do is ride the white-knuckle rides they've created. Now, in Theme Park 2 you'll have the chance to ride your own rollercoaster!"
Whereas the original sported endearing though blocky low-res 2D visuals, Theme Park 2 looks easy on the eye thanks to an impressive new 3D engine. A new, easy to use interface ensures that even novices will have little trouble in creating a sprawling 3D land of fun, while four new themed worlds - namely Lost Kingdom, Space, Fantasy and Halloween - mean that there's now the potential for more variation than ever.
Underneath all this new 3D eye candy is a sophisticated new artificial intelligence system that controls each character's behaviour and decision making. The result is that different types of people in the game now have quite distinctive behavioural traits, all of which must be understood and catered for if your park is to become a success. Try putting too much salt on the fries and too much sugar in the pop, and this time round you could find yourself in hot water.
While the original game enjoyed immeasurable success, critics maintained that after a short while the gameplay became repetitive, and that as a result longevity suffered. To combat this Bullfrog have not only enabled you to actually ride the attractions they've designed in Theme Park 2, but they've also developed the facility to save off their fun parks and upload them onto the Net for everyone to experience.
Although the shots on these pages are from a very early build (the game isn't due to hit the shelves for some months), it's obvious that Theme Park 2 is heaving with potential and is definitely one to watch whether you're a fan of the original or not. Just don't be tempted to build a fun park near Paris - it'll never catch on.