Railroad Tycoon 3


posted 11/24/2003 by Randy Kalista
other articles by Randy Kalista
One Page Platforms: PC
Because it’s all about big business, right? RT3 would have to remove the word ‘Tycoon’ from its title if not for the game’s expansive industrial and money-making side. Manufacturing and city-growth is virtually stagnant without railroad connections. The easiest route to clocking capital gains is by moving passengers and cargo between cities. As you place stations within city limits, the station will naturally pick up some in-town industries (a tire factory or a distillery, etc.) Small, medium and large stations each possess an increasing area of effect.

Another one of the few complaints I have come from this unruly area of effect tool: it hops around, four grid squares at a time. This is chiefly upsetting when placing your small stations. Several one-star towns would suffice having a small train station, but with such a clunky control it’s rarely possible to fit a town properly inside the effective radius. You’ll likely have to upgrade your idea to a medium station, spending $50 thousand more than you should have to.

Industry is a complicated business. You want some cheese with that whine? Then you’ll need a connection to a Dairy Processor, which needs shipments of milk from a Dairy Farm, gaining a boost in production if supplied with corn, corn that grows faster from loads of fertilizer, coming from a Fertilizer Factory that requires chemicals from a Chemical Plant (which, incidentally, don’t appear until 1905.) Thankfully, that same poster detailing all the locomotives in the game has a flip side: and a comprehensive industry flowchart is there, setting you up for success. Later, once you’ve stacked up a decent pile of cash, you can actually buy up industries. Perhaps that Pittsburgh steel mill has fallen on some hard times: buy it, make a railroad connection to its doorstep, then watch your profits swell exponentially. You don’t have to micromanage each factory’s production rates; all you have to do is collect the paycheck.

You can also get ready for some excellent bluegrass music. Look, I wouldn’t immediately label myself a fan either, but tunes that should come off as annoying (“Oh, Susanna”, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”, et al.) wonderfully portray the mood and the spirit of the day. Although it doesn’t scream of the authenticity of a soundtrack like “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou” it will have you toe tappin’ more than you’d ever admit to your Limp Bizkit lovin’ buddies.

Railroad Tycoon 3 is, without a doubt, an impressive title. The campaigns and scenarios drive together a cohesive theme, and the quintessential ‘old geezer’ narrator polishes off the package with some superb voice-acting. There’s an unexpected variety of the challenges to be faced, with few of them ever resorting to superficial barriers like blanket penalties on profits and such. You’ll unknowingly learn some history along the way since the introductions and interludes never come off as preachy or pretentious. They establish an atmosphere with substance rather than overwhelm you with textbook diction. Besides, as a kid, all I really needed was the definitive control of pushing my train around a living room railroad.

With its track record firmly established, the latest installment in the Railroad Tycoon series sets itself on par with most top-of-the-line strategy games. Gathering of Developers fine-tune a balance of simulation and strategy without derailing fun factor.

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