I downloaded the Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 demo this morning. I've always been a big fan of the original Roller Coaster Tycoon (RC1), even though I never came close to finishing it. I just like building the parks and letting the little people run through it.
I've always thought it was marvelous that a game that was fully creative, non-violent (well, except for dropping the peeps in the pond) and intricate was so popular.
It looks like they've retained the essential nature of the original. You are still building your park on a grid, but your eye, your camera, is free to roam much more freely ... rotating and zooming to your heart's content.
The ability to get a peep's eye view of any ride, not just roller coasters, is wonderful.
The demo is a major power hog; my laptop (A Dell Inspiron 8200, 1 gig of ram, 2ghz P4, GeForce 4 440 Go) is somewhat taxed ... it will run full screen at 800x600 but only just. I suspect larger parks will be a problem. This game is going to cost me a lot of cash for a new system.
I haven't found where you get to review all your peep's thoughts (I hope that's still in there). They've also made the concession stands overly complex (you get to define a whole menu, control how many pickles are put on each burger and a bunch of other stuff nobody will ever do).
The biggest win is that you can pause the game to do construction. That was always my biggest beef with RC1 ... constant interruptions when building your big coaster.
The peeps are much more involved; different sexes and ages. There's some kind of group (or family) system.
Parks also simulate day and night as well as season; the park looks terrific at night, and there are fireworks shows!
Alas, back to work for now!