Railroad Tycoon (Second Review)

Title           Railroad Tycoon (Second Review)
Game Type       Management Sim
Publisher       Microprose
Author		Sid Meier
Players         1
HD Installable  Only to Sys: but you can use assigns for elsewhere
Compatibility   All Amigas
Submission      DJ

      Sid Meier can pack more content on a couple of disks than anybody.
And not only are his games very playable and enormous fun, they are also
(gasp) educational! Meier performs exhaustive research into his
simulations and the manual is chock full of interesting contextual side
notes. But he also makes sure to isolate the complexities so that the
player can get started with the game and introduce difficulties at their
own rate.

      Railroad Tycoon puts you in charge of a turn of the century,
fledgeling railroad, without even a home station, just a bunch of profit
hungry shareholders. Keeping this avaricious lot pleased is your primary
concern, at least until you manage to make yourself "indispensable".

      Your day to day routine involves building rail connections between
various cities, then organizing trains and schedules to suit.

      Laying track takes planning and the best route isn't always a
straight line. Hills, mountains, rivers all pose construction problems
(trains aren't very good at hill climbing, whatever the "Little Engine
that Could" says). Do you build a cheap wooden trestle bridge or build to
last, in stone and steel? Tunnel or go around? Build a depot, station or
terminal; add improvements like maintenance shops and hotels? Decisions,
decisions. But that's what these kind of sims are all about and RR Tycoon
constantly confronts you with them.

      There is a roster of engines, limited at first, each with their
strengths and weaknesses. There's a variety of cars to haul passengers and
mail (your bread and butter), fast, slow and bulk freight (from wine to
coal). A little judicious investing in local industries will assure future

      Linking resources (wood, coal, livestock) with industries (paper
mills, power stations, factories) and consumers (cities and villages) is
the way to make money, well it's one way. Buying your own stock or your
competitor's stock is another, assuming that they increase in value. But
don't let anyone buy too much of your stock or you'll be down the line
without a ticket.

      Financial jostling, hostile takeovers, debt manipulation... all in a
days work. If you prefer the more direct attack you can move in on a
competitor's territory and try to drive them out in a rate war. If you
can't please the town council then you're out (and don't ever try to come
back). But if you manage to convince them of your superior service and
value you can squeeze them for twice your normal prices for the next year
(can you say "monopoly"?). But rewards here don't come to those who wait,
there's a time limit so you have to go get 'em, if you don't want to
retire as a hobo.

      The game is played on a series of screens with some stunning (for
their time) graphics. The main screen is a map, in four levels of detail.
The first is of your region. There are four of these, Western or Eastern
USA, England and Europe.

      On the high detail map you can clearly see the geography and get
survey reports to aid in planning routes. You can also see the smoke
puffing from your steam locos (that's what we Tycoons call the engines).
One screen shows a schematic view of your holdings, complete with boxes
reporting on the needs and supplies for each station. From here you can
best monitor the activity of your railroad and adjust its schedules and
consists (what the trains haul).

      Other screens allow you to order new engines or get their specs,
design routes and consists, play the stock market, and examine your
stations. Various screens report on your performance, stock values,
efficiencies, incomes and such.

      The manual quite nicely explains the whole affair but I found the
tutorial game uninstructive. Beyond game functions, Meier includes a
healthy dose of history and insights into strategy. Like most of his games
you learn a lot about the theory behind the simulation and I find that
this substance greatly adds to my enjoyment.

      If this sounds dull, go back to your platform "shoot 'em up",
there's a good kid. The rest of you, this game is essential.

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