Sid Meier’s Railroads!
Sid Meier’s Railroads! is in principle a remake of the 1990 game Railroad Tycoon. I know, you need to be of a certain age already to have played that game then, but at the time, Tycoon games were “in”.
The idea? Simple, build your own railroad imperium and supply as many cities as possible with their needs, being the transport of people, commodities and goods. To provide them with the more advanced stuff you’ll need to start supplying to different industries. Cars are constructed out of steel, but that steel doesn’t arrive just like that. The bigger the time, the better the price of course. Also you can invest in industry to get an additional grain.
The game worlds have the form of an existing country or part of the world with the most important cities added. Although the options exist to randomize these you in fact play the same mission over and over again. These mean you also have to abide by certain goals next to supply cities with their basic needs. These goals are bundled in periods of 30 to 40 years and expect for instance that a couple of big cities are connected or the delivery of certain goods is done within a certain timeframe.
A game of Railroads! starts with one station in one town after which you’ll have to build your entire network. Just putting a line between 2 towns doesn’t just work like that. All pieces of track need to be connected which works both positively and negatively to the gameplay. The playing time is increased but this goes at the cost of freedom in the game. The AI will also try to aid in achieving all the goals but most of the time just walks in your way. Complicated constructions, inefficient routing and also a bit dumb. And what do we do with the competition? Right, buy and liquidate! Railroads! contains a mild form of stock exchange where your and your opponents’ stocks can be bought and sold. Buy all the stocks of a company and you get control over their railroad network.
I can be reasonably positive about the graphics. All trains, stations and industries are detailed and nicely animated. Only the textures of the buildings could have used some additional work. The game gets a kiddy look but this is perfectly in line with the simple interface. After about 20 minutes you’ve gotten the hang of all aspects of the game but unfortunately the target audience becomes a much younger crowd because of this. Die-hard tycoon gamers are bit left out. On top of that, the average game doesn’t last longer than 2 hours which is way too short.
With Railroads! Sid Meier has released again a good game, even if for a younger audience. Maybe that other forms of transport would give that little bit extra but then it wouldn’t be Railroads! anymore. Oh, and can someone explain to the guy that country music is extremely passé in tycoon games?