Written by  :  Afterburner (496)
Written on  :  Feb 19, 2005
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars

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A robust railroad management sim that improves on the previous games in the series.

The Good

It is the perfect sequel: The same gameplay that made the previous version so good has been tweaked and made slightly more complex, but with the same basic underlying game mechanic as before. Which means that people familiar with the old game can pick up the new game without difficulty, but those who put forth the effort to understand the new nuances achieve increased success.

As before, the game is chopped up into scenarios, each with a different goal that will challenge your grasp of the game. Some scenarios require you to connect distant cities within a certain time frame. Other scenarios might require you to move a certain amount of specific type of cargo. Others might require you to buy up other competing companies, or to achieve a certain personal net worth via the stock market. (This is just a sample, by the way. The scenario editor is complex and allows for a wide variety of goal types.)

Most of these goals hinge upon building track, buying industries, and generally managing a large railroad. And all of this will be familiar to veterans of RRT2.

Among the new wrinkles are:

- Vastly improved, fully 3D, fully rotatable graphics engine. You can now view your trains from any angle.

- You can lay track at any angle (as opposed to the 8 cardinal directions of the previous game). Makes it easier to build switchbacks up steep mountain ranges, as well as avoiding challenging terrain.

- You can build tunnels.

- In RRT2, you could buy any industry that was on the map and put it to work for you. In RRT3, you can buy any industry that's available for the time, even if it's not on the map. Is there a spot on your rail line that has 3 or 4 logging camps? Buy a paper mill or a lumber mill and plop it right down next to 'em. And watch your profits soar.

- The industrial "cargo economy" is significantly more complex than previous versions. Freight moves of its own accord, either overland or via rivers. It's slow and arduous, though, so when you build a railroad depot, nearby freight will begin moving towards your depot. If the freight is picked up and delivered in a timely manner, the freight will preferentially seek out your depot. If you slack, though, it'll pass you by.

The Bad

The sandbox mode disables all the economy options, making it essentially a model train sim. I would REALLY like a sandbox mode that lets me pick a map and a start year and then allows me to build a transport empire, complete with stocks and economic concerns.

And the "old coot" narrator gets on my nerves from time-to-time.

Other than that, there wasn't anything about the game I disliked.

The Bottom Line

All in all, it's a tremendous improvement over the already great Railroad Tycoon 2. If you're a fan of builder games like Rollercoaster Tycoon, etc, this game will be right up your alley.