Learn more… • www.feralinteractive.com
Available from… • Mac App Store
Whether or not you had a train set as a child, you’re still bound to enjoy this simulator from the great Sid Meier. Built as a tribute to the excellent Railroad Tycoon, Railroads! puts you in charge of a single town or city to start with, and tasks you with building up an empire linking to all the cities and amenities around you.
Cities demand certain things, such as passengers and mail, or wood and steel. In return they will produce goods that other cities demand; setting up trade routes is vital to making your company profitable. The economic system is relatively simplistic, but when playing against computer opponents or other players over the internet, it’s vital to make as much as possible, as the only way to beat them is to buy all the shares for their company.
The AI is genuinely impressive on the more difficult settings, and the game gets surprisingly frantic as you upgrade your trains and build new lines that take the most efficient routes. With opponents seeking to do the same it’s a battle both against the bank and against their plans as you try and make cash quickly.
Thankfully, the controls are incredibly simple; you can control the whole game with just a mouse, but a keyboard offers shortcuts to make your life easier. Track building is a joy – simply click the start of a track in one city and click where you want the track laid. The computer does the rest for you, adding bridges and tunnels automatically, although you’ll need to think about how inclines will affect your train speeds. The tutorial does well to explain the basics, but there is a lot that’s left unexplained. Thankfully, the early levels are a great way to get started, even if you switch AI opponents off, and within an hour you’ll know exactly what you’re doing. It’s fair to say that the game looks fantastic, too. Cities bustle and trains dash back and forth, making the game world an arresting place. The biggest shame is the lack of scenarios; the 16 maps randomise the locations of amenities each game, so no two are exactly the same, but once you’ve completed the objectives, the game’s lifespan lives in the multiplayer and higher difficulty levels.
Despite this issue, the game is still a huge amount of fun. We found ourselves playing for hours on a single game without realising, and at no point were we bored. If you had a train set as a child this is unmissable, but even if you didn’t, and can forgive the lack of maps, you’ll have great fun building a railroad empire.
Pros Looks and plays great, with simple controls and a testing AI
Cons Only 16 maps for the price, and multiplayer games take several hours to complete