Written by  :  ex_navynuke! (48)
Written on  :  Apr 13, 2005
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars

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This game cost me *years* of my free time!

The Good

Where to begin... This game is a jewel, and you really only begin to appreciate its depth at the higher difficulty levels. On the higher difficulty levels, you have to manage a complex economy. For example a city will only pay you to deliver hops if there happens to be a brewery within the city limits.

Or, you could *build* a brewery in the city, if you had a large source of hops nearby, waiting to be exploited... but that'll cost you a lot of cash up front. Decisions, decisions. And of course, ANY old city will pay for the beer that you deliver, right? It's so wonderful, taking coal to one city to make steel, delivering the steel to yet another city to make manufactured goods, then delivering the goods to a third city for the final money-making run.

Then there's the constant concern about purchasing back enough of your company stock that the other tycoons don't get majority shareholder status of your company and run you out of town.

Then too, you have to worry about them tying their railroads into your cities and starting a fare war. You lose a major economic engine if you lose a major city, and then you are sunk!

There is incredible replayability to this game because although the maps are the same, the size of the cities and placement of minor impediments to building tracks vary. The stock market goes up and down like a yo-yo, forcing you to make economic decisions about borrowing money and paying off debt.

There are four starting scenarios: England, the first trains, Europe, pre WW I, Easter US with the first trains, and the Western US Post civil War. Each requires a different strategy to succeed, and strategies that work well in the opening game begin to fail in the mid game and are liabilities at the end-game.

The Bad

I liked everything about this game. I'd like to see a nearly identical game based on Windows, with cleaner graphics - and *nothing* else added or subtracted. That's an endorsement for a world-class game.

The Bottom Line

A really cool blend of trains, economics, and markets. Play at your own risk - you may never spend your free time the same again!