Railroad Tycoon 3
Along with air traffic control, the thought of rolling stock, steam engines and multijunction signal boxes doesn't really get us going here at PC. So the fact that even we agreed the original Railroad Tycoon was good was testament to the great Sid Meier's uncanny knack of producing classic strategy and management titles.
Since then, though, our Sid has moved on, and this latest edition of the railroad building sim is in the capable hands of PopTop Software, who also knocked out the second installment in the series. And as there are two types of people in this world - those who have played a Railroad Tycoon game and those who haven't - we'll begin by summing up what all the fuss is about.
You're the boss of a fledgling railroad company. After building a couple of stations, a bunch of track and buying a choo-choo to travel on it, you sit back and watch the dollars flow in. Passengers and freight are carted this way and that, and soon enough you're branching out into hotels, factories, warehouses and other lucrative enterprises. Of course, there is competition from other operators, along with a host of economic problems to grapple with. But that's to be expected.
What this latest offering primarily offers over its predecessors is a 3D engine. And what an engine it is. One push of the mouse wheel and you've gone from your view of all of Italy, direct to looking at your train chugging into Milan station. Day turns to night, accurately mapped stars twinkle in the firmament and then a nasty fog descends to obscure it all.
And it's not just for show -this new engine means bridges and tunnels are back, providing options in dealing with difficult terrain. What's also interesting about this update is how the wider economy works, with goods being transported independently by canal barge, river boat and sea freighters. While the sole effect of this tends to be forcing you to build away from waterways for maximum profits, it's a nice touch.
The interface too, has had a tweaking, but despite it being more navigable than ever, it'll still confuse the hell out of a Tycoon game newbie. Once again, despite pretty graphics, there's a heavy-duty beast lurking here, full of spreadsheets, stats and information screens.
Lighten Up, Baby
In the end, this is still a fairly engaging sim, made all the better by the 3D engine. But it's dry as a bone, with no humour and nothing very exciting for most of us to latch on to. There are better management topics out there (see box), and while Railroad Tycoon was a classic in its day, we'd rather spend five hours in the attic helping granddad fix the signal box on his 00' gauge Hornby set.
Processor: PC compatible,
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode