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Railroad Tycoon II

Railroad Tycoon II
4
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation
Publisher: Gathering of Developers
Developer: PopTop Software
Genres: Strategy / Business Simulator
Release Date: November 4, 1998
Game Modes: Singleplayer / Multiplayer

Your chance to become the next Thomas Durant.

Snap147_1Sid Meier’s Railroad Tycoon (1991) was one of the most addictive and engrossing business sims around at the time, so why it took some eight years to produce a worthy sequel is anyone’s guess. For those unfamiliar, Railroad Tycoon 2 (RRT2) is a strategy game in which the object is to create a successful railroad company. You take control of a huge sum of money, lay tracks and buy rolling stock, and generally have the freedom to run the company – either to glorious riches or shameful bankruptcy – through managerial minutia.

The player must build stations to collect the various cargo loads from the surrounding area and come up with profitable railway routes. There are 34 different types of cargo, most having some kind of relationship with another. For example, a cattle ranch will provide cattle, which can be taken to a meat processing plant to create food, which can then be hauled to most cities for a nice price. It’s this relationship between cargoes that is the heart and soul of Railroad Tycoon 2’s strategy element, but the game also features a fairly in-depth financial model.

And above all else, what makes Railroad Tycoon 2 a joy to play is the interface. The amount of information presented to (and needed by) the player is enormous, and could easily become overwhelming. But the interface lets the player concentrate on the gameplay without being burdened by menus and switches. All the building tools and game controls are accessed through a single button. Four more buttons stationed permanently at the bottom of the screen give you basic information regarding your stations, trains, personal wealth, and corporate wealth.

Snap165_1Accessibility is a major point in RT2’s favor. Anyone from the complete strategy game novice to the veteran rail-master will find a combination of difficulty settings to make them happy. There’ even a “sandbox” mode that does away with monetary concerns, allowing you to build your dream rail network at your leisure. There’s a large number of scenarios set all over the globe that let you select how involved you want to get. Adjustable difficulty makes things harder by dictating that you only get paid for cargo that is in demand, for example

For the Wall Street types, you can set the stock market to allow buying and selling on margin as well as the ability for rival tycoons to take over your company (of course, you’ll be able to do the same to them). For a less demanding challenge, the difficulty can be toned way down, allowing for payment on delivery regardless of whether the station wants a specific load of cargo, and the stock market can be limited to purchasing shares in your own company.

This review can’t possibly do justice to the depth of gameplay that makes up Railroad Tycoon 2. It’s safe to say that anyone who played and liked the original will be enthralled for hours on end with this new version, while new players (or people with a general interest in business games) will very likely enjoy it as well. In any case, this railroad business sim is safe to stay on your hard-drives.


System Requirements: Pentium 100 Mhz, 16 MB RAM, Win95

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