As we are constantly being reminded, this is the age of the train. But wait, ask yourself one question, could you run British Rail better than it is run now? Of course you could and now, thanks to those awfully nice people at Microprose, you can have a crack at it yourself. Forget train spotting or playing with that Hornby double-o track in the attic, here is your chance to show the world that there is real money to be made from trains.
Railroad Tycoon puts you in charge of your very own rolling-stock company. You can play the game in four different scenarios: Eastern America in the 1830's, Western America in 1866, Britain in 1828 and Europe in the 1900's. In addition you can play at four different difficulty settings, each one becoming progressively harder but providing you with a bigger cut of the profits.
When starting out as a Railroad Tycoon you should first find a pair of suitable settlements. Preferably, ones which have already attained town status and that are going to grow into bigger and better things. After building two stations (you can choose from a simple siding, a station or a huge terminal), you can join them up with a track. Once everything is in place it is time to build a train the style of which depends on the time period you are working in.
During the early stages of the game you will be content with running mail and passengers. Providing a regular service will increase your payroll no end and before you know where you are you will own tracks all over the show. Now, providing a basic service is no bad thing, but just think of the mega-bucks you could earn if you dabbled in rolling stock and freight. Before you know what is happening you will be shifting coal, steel, wool, wine, textiles and chemicals; every one of them guaranteed to make you rich. You will also discover that there is truth in the age-old saying, "time is money". By buying bigger and faster locomotives you can arrive at your destination a lot earlier and delivering the goods ahead of schedule certainly does pay big dividends.
Obviously, you could stay as a small time railroader, shunting people and goods around on your various tracks. Unfortunately, although that tactic would provide you with a fair amount of cash just to tide you over, you won't become fabulously rich. In addition there are other potential Railroad Tycoons out there who would take over your path as soon as they look at it. The only way to stay ahead of the rest is to keep expanding.
Naturally, you are going to have to splash out a bit when expanding your empire. Bridges to cross rivers do not come cheap, especially if you build the more expensive ones that are built to last. Tunnels also prove expensive so it is usually advisable to build around mountains. Very often, a single-line track can cause congestion and cost you time. A wise investor can spot potential bottlenecks and builds a double-track to overcome the problem.
Would-be tycoons also keep a keen eye on the opposition. If you spot a struggling competitor or a lucrative town you can try to buy the opposition out. This tactic works both ways, so it is advisable to offer your customers the best service available.
There are two definite ways in which to make big money. On one hand you can simply go on expanding, taking over smaller, less profitable railway companies as you go. You will earn a fair wedge by shuttling goods from town to town. Delivering steel and the like does pay, but just think what cut you could be on if you actually owned the steel mill, or any other factory for that matter.
To sum up, Railroad Tycoon can be likened to games such as Sim City. it is one of those games that you can sit at and play for hours without really achieving much. Players, of all abilities, will enjoy the different levels of gameplay. Whether you are shifting mail and people around the place or supplying a service to an entire country, Railroad Tycoon will keep you absorbed for hours on end.