Written by  :  Steve Hall (355)
Written on  :  Oct 25, 2000
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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Wonderful game that can make whole days just disappear

The Good

This game is magnificent, better even than the original Railroad Tycoon. It is very compelling to play, and it can eat away hours of free time without you really noticing. The graphics are really cool, and you get a great sense of what's going on in your little world. In fact it's just a great game, but there are a few things that really make it stand out.

1. The music is superb, easily the best in any game ever. Okay, so they're only midi files, but the tunes are great. I'm not all into this sort of music myself, but it fits the game perfectly, and always end up humming them for days.

2. The range options for configuring the game are huge. You change the style of the town names, the currency, even what side of the road the vehicles drive on (great for us Brits).

3. It's very cute. Especially if you open a 'watch' window on a train, following it as it goes through tunnels, stops at signals at toots its horn at level crossings. Wonderful!

The Bad

Three things. Firstly it's very slow. Unlike most sim type games it doesn't have a speed control, which means that when nothing much is happening you can't accelerate time. Sometimes it's nice to kick back, grab a beer and watch the world evolve in front of you, but at other times it can get a little frustrating, and since the game is due to run for 100 years of game time, it can take literally weeks of play time.

Secondally, I find the games AI annoying in the extreme. I'm quite happy to compete with the other companies, but they have a lot to learn about track/road design. They seem set up rail and road routes that have no logic to them at all - tracks that run in circles, over and under each other, figures of 8, etc. This gets annoying because their crap building techniques waste valuable building land around towns, stifling growth and providing an obstacle your building plans.

Lastly, the bloody stupid bus drivers. Why, oh why can't they stop at level crossings?

The Bottom Line

This game is not a sequel to Railroad Tycoon - it really is quite different. With four modes of transport to use (rail, road, air and sea) you can always find the right tool for the job, and as soon as you build up a reasonable empire the money keeps flooding in. It is a very long and time-consuming game and like all sim games, it can get a little dull after a while, especially when there are no new challenges. Making it all the way to the 100 years end point can be a real struggle. But at least the game has an end-point (unlike Sim City). Of course, you don't have to play to the end - I rarely do. Just play long enough to enjoy the building of a transport network, then move on.