Me and Mrs typically spend our evenings talking rubbish, complaining about the wrongs in the world, and we always seem to settle on Big Business as being the source of all evil on our wonderful planet. It’s mostly true, isn’t it? The irony is not lost on me, then, that one of my favourite types of games are business management games, specifically, theme park games, but I do like to dabble in others, too.
Ever since I was thrown a copy of Theme Park for the PS1 all those years ago, I’ve had a soft spot for building theme parks and making fat stacks. Not in real life, mind you, but who knows… Maybe I’ll get to build a real-life theme park one day. Actually, for the sake of everybody, let’s hope that doesn’t happen…
Planet Coaster: Console Edition is, as the name suggests, a port of the popular PC game. And you know what? It’s brilliant. Full disclaimer, mind you, I played the game on Xbox Series S, while my colleague Jason played on PS4 and PS5. So I was afforded the luxury of playing with a mouse and keyboard if I wanted to, but Jason preferred to play with the sexy DualSense controller. It’s nice to have the option, though, and I found myself flitting between the two different control options as and when I needed it. And sometimes, I really needed it. Other times, I just wanted to lie on the couch covered in my duvet with the mouse resting on my leg. I was a little poorly when this review came around, so having a game that didn’t require quick reflexes was a godsend, as was the ability to mostly play with just one hand.
Planet Coaster offers up everything that’s found in the PC version of the game. You’re getting all the game modes, all the options (minus the PC specific stuff) and all the fun. There’s a decent tutorial if you need it, otherwise, you can jump right into the action and start managing your park.
There are three game modes on offer that give you different goals to accomplish, or none. The single-player campaign puts you in charge of pre-built parks with a number of challenges. Complete the challenges and you’ll be awarded with a gold star and a new level to play. Or you can just keep playing that park. That’s completely up to you. As with other similar games, I didn’t bother too much with the campaign stuff; I really don’t like the idea of building something up, only to ditch it because I’ve unlocked a new level. I really prefer to build my own space from scratch and stick with it until I’m bored or bankrupt.
Challenge mode is where I spent most of my time, then, but there’s also a Sandbox mode where you’re given free rein to do whatever you like without the pressure of managing the finances. This is a good testbed for new ideas and I spent some time here trying (and failing) to create the biggest and baddest rollercoaster ever seen. It was just the baddest and in the end, after an hour of meticulous planning, I binned it. That’s fine, though, because Planet Coaster comes with more than enough pre-built rollercoasters, and there’s lots more if you delve into the player creations. I’ve got to say, I’m more than a little impressed with what players have been able to cook up, and it’s basically eliminated my need to do any thinking when it comes to new coasters. Thanks, players!
Building a world-class coaster isn’t easy, mind you, and it’s one of the tasks that really benefits from mouse and keyboard support. The general controls with a controller are really good, but the nitty-gritty intricacies of building a coaster demand a bit more refined control, or patience. I don’t have patience, but I’ve got a box full of wireless mice and keyboards. Don’t ask me why.
The gameplay itself is second-to-none, at least on consoles. There’s plenty of depth for spreadsheet lovers like myself, and there’s something satisfying about opening an empty park and turning it into something that not only looks great but actually functions. Watching the balance book grow month on month is great, and I can kind of understand why Big Business loves being evil. If my bank balance grew like this in real life, you can bet your bottom dollar I’d be selling guns to the wrong people, too.
A note from Jason on PS4 and PS5 gameplay:
On the PS5, Planet Coaster: Console Edition runs great. There is one loading screen when you start a level, but it’s not bad. After that, everything moves quickly and looks great. It’s all very smooth, and, although it sticks more to cartoony visuals over realism, the amount of detail you can zoom into is great. If you have a PS5, this is a worthy upgrade.
If you’re playing on the PS4, it won’t have some of the clarity and detail of the PS5, and the load times are a little longer. It could be my imagination, but it also doesn’t move quite as fluidly. However, you’re still getting a great experience on the PS4, and it runs very well. If I hadn’t compared both versions back to back, the contrast wouldn’t be so pronounced. Bottom line, the visual improvements aren’t worth waiting to play this on a PS5 if you like this kind of sim.
While it’s a game I thoroughly enjoy and will continue to play for months, it’s not for everybody. If you’re not typically into city builders or management sims, you’re not likely to be swayed here. That being said Planet Coaster: Console Edition is included with Game Pass, so if you’re a subscriber, you’ve got nothing to lose by giving it a go.
For those of us who have been waiting patiently for a decent theme park management game on consoles, I’m happy to say that the wait is over. It’s here, and it’s really good fun. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking to turn quick profits via the smart placement of food and drink stalls, or a master builder with grand ideas, Planet Coaster: Console Edition is worth the price of admission.
Planet Coaster: Console Edition PS5 Review
Planet Coaster: Console Edition is the best theme-park-sim on consoles, and not just because it’s one of the only ones around. The level of detail is amazing, as is the ability to shape the park exactly how you want to. Fans of theme park sims will no doubt fall madly in love with the deep gameplay, but it’s simple enough for the casual player to pick up and play, too.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro, PS5, and Xbox Series S.
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