Game Review - by James Allen
Ever since the release of RollerCoaster Tycoon a while ago, many different gaming companies have tried to capitalize on the roller coaster design or tycoon elements of that game. Since RollerCoaster Tycoon was presented in an isometric perspective (like the SimCity line of games), people have focused in trying to give the same experience in three dimensions. A whole suite of programs have been developed to allow for the design and experience of roller coasters in 3-D, and NoLimits is the next in the line of exaggerated CAD programs. NoLimits covers just the realm of steel roller coasters (since a majority of those produced today fall into this category), and comes with an editor and simulator to provide for the building and riding of coasters in full-on 3-D. Will NoLimits break the world records for the latest and greatest simulation, or just plainly break?
The NoLimits simulation comes with two separate programs: the editor, for the designing of roller coasters, and the simulator, where you can ride your creations. The game comes with a number of real and imaginary coasters (16 pre-patch, 24 more post-patch). And the technical guide is comprehensive as well. That's really about it, since I will discuss most of the program's attributes in the Gameplay section of this review. I will say that the coaster files themselves are generally very small (under 40 KB), so those on a slow Internet connection (like myself) can download many coasters without breaking a sweat! More betterness!
The sound in NoLimits, although basic by the standards of other kinds of games, do provide with very believable effects. Ambient crowd sounds (although there are no people present) are around the station, and the sounds for the locking of harnesses, clicking of safety dogs and the chain, and sound of the motor are all convincing. I was impressed with the whooshing sound of the coaster wheels against the steel track: this is one of the only 3-D coaster games that have gotten this dead on. There is no soundtrack present in the game, but that's OK by me. In conclusion, the sound in NoLimits does the job well.
The "gameplay" in NoLimits comes from designing, building, and riding your coasters. This is done through two independent programs: the editor and the simulator. Firstly, the editor is one of the most user-friendly I have seen, which is both powerful and allowing unlimited design, while making it easy to make common coaster elements. Each piece is denoted by a vertex at each end, which can be moved in 3-D space, that has two control points, which changes the rate of curvature in the track. This is surprisingly easy to use, and is the best freeform method I have seen. There are five kinds of track segments available to use in your coaster: regular track, station, transport (LIM and friction wheels), lift, and brake. The special elements have certain attributes that can be set by the user, such as brake speed, lift speed, wait time, and acceleration rates. These five components comprise everything you'd need in designing a real-life coaster.
Holding up each coaster are supports, which can be as simple as a point and click method, or custom designed to emulate real life geometries. You can also add three different trees to the landscape. Oooo! You can choose from eight different kinds of steel coasters (the most I've seen in any game like this), which changes both the car shape and attributes and track profile. You can pick from steel looping (2 seats with lap bar), corkscrew (2 seats with shoulder harness), twisted steel (4 seats with shoulder harness), hypercoaster (like Millennium Force at Cedar Point (in fact, that's one of the coasters that comes with the game)), floorless twisted steel, stand-up twisted steel, two seat inverted, and 4 seat inverted. No wooden coasters, but that's OK. You can set the number of trains, number of cars for each train, and the color scheme of the track and rolling stock (train). In the best idea for this game, it comes with several scalable prefabricated elements, so making loops, corkscrews, and zero-g rolls are as easy as selecting a menu item. There is no need to guess what they look like or how to make them, as was the problem in other games. The editor gives you freedom, but enough help to make it easy to use at any level of expertise. I'll mention the simulator shortly: in a neat twist, you can play as the train dispatcher, using emergency stops and harness and gate controls. This is a neat feature that, again, isn't seen in many other games of this type. NoLimits does a great job of making simulating coasters easy and powerful at the same time.
The graphics are pretty much what we would expect from a game such as this: cleanly rendered 3-D graphics in a well-presented manner. The skies have moving clouds, and the horizons are believable. The trees are pretty bad, though on par with, say, Operation Flashpoint. The cars themselves look very much like their real-life counterparts, as do the tracks. There is nothing that would lead to believe that the game was simulating anything other than a roller coaster.
NoLimits is probably the best 3-D roller coaster simulator on the et. Using an easy-to-learn editor, which is both powerful without being unwieldy, NoLimits makes designing coasters easy, and results in believable designs to ride in the simulator. If you want to design your own coasters without any other distractions, I would suggest to use NoLimits, as it does the task very, very well.