Nine years before the avalanche of business simulations with the word "Tycoon" in the title (ranging from (A)irline to (Z)oo), legendary game designer Sid Meier introduced gamers to the rigors of running a railroad company in Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon, inspiring a sequel and add-on pack. Railroad Tycoon II: Platinum represents the culmination of the series, containing Railroad Tycoon II, Railroad Tycoon II: The Second Century, and Railroad Tycoon II: Gold, as well as new scenarios, new music, and a strategy guide. It is an inexpensive opportunity to collect everything but the original title.
Railroad Tycoon II: Platinum places you in the role of a railroad company owner bent on running the opposition out of town on a rail. Owners focus on connecting cities by laying tracks and making a few dollars along the way by transporting everything from people and mail to raw materials and finished goods. Random events as well as historical happenings help shape gameplay, and a realistic stock market model adds another facet to this jewel of a game as well.
The collection will appeal mostly to diehard fans looking for fresh scenarios, or newcomers wanting a complete train simulation experience, but Railroad Tycoon II owners satisfied with the original helping of action may not want to come back for seconds. Despite the addition of 50 new scenarios and two hours of original blues music, there just isn't enough here to interest those who have played Railroad Tycoon II and set it aside.
The three-year-old graphics engine still chugs along nicely. Maps are accurate and provide real-world historical challenges to conquer. There are more than 60 historic engines hauling a host of detailed cars to and from cities. The landscape is filled with trees, hills, and rivers to circumvent for the least amount of money. The graphics are sharp; the trains and terrain resemble a complex model train setup any HO scale aficionado would be proud to own.
You can play through over 125 scenarios from the birth of the iron horse to the emergence of the futuristic Mag-Lev bullet train. Fifty of the scenarios are new and tougher than what veterans of the series are used to and provide untold extra hours of entertainment. Yet, for the casual gamer, the scenarios tend to become a bit repetitive after the first dozen or so.
After battling through the scenarios, you can try your hand at building one of your own -- literally from the ground up. The editor is easy to use and provides the tools needed to build any location, real or imagined. Land elevations can be changed and landscape items added with a click of the mouse.
In addition to the games, Railroad Tycoon II: Platinum offers an electronic version of the official Railroad Tycoon II strategy guide. The 200-page guide assists players through scenarios, providing several cost charts and helpful hints. Unfortunately, consulting the guide or electronic manual while playing the game is impossible, due to their inclusion as electronic versions. While not printing manuals and guides ultimately saves the gamer a few dollars, it just doesn't feel right not having a manual to read while installing the game or trying to find a command while holding off a corporate takeover in the game.
The music continues to shine with over two hours of original blues, dominated by a hobo-styled harmonica. The tunes provide a nice background for the rhythmic thrumming of trains. Breakdowns, crashes, and robberies are also spectacular sounding, demanding the player's attention. Additionally, the vintage railroad footage introducing the different scenarios is well narrated and flavors the game with wistful nostalgia.
Railroad Tycoon II: Platinum, while solid in design, does have its share of minor problems in execution. It is extremely easy to lay errant tracks as the mouse pointer has a tendency to jump randomly within the play window. Also, oddly enough, there are no tunnels. Dealing with bridges and steep grades, while challenging, sometimes detracts from the usually enjoyable task of laying out new tracks.
The game offers the definitive railroad experience for those who do not own Railroad Tycoon II. Moreover, hardcore fans that can't get enough of the series will find the new scenarios challenging, but less ardent gamers will find the extras a bit excessive. For all, though, it is an excellent collection providing extended mileage to a classic game.
Graphics: The landscapes are crisp, accurate, and varied. A surprising amount of detail went into the trains and towns.
Sound: The additional two-plus hours of hobo blues music are most appropriate. Train sounds are authentic.
Enjoyment: Laying out tracks and establishing a profitable route is surprisingly addictive. The different eras of train history are also a joy to experience.
Replay Value: Loads of scenarios, almost too many, give the game extensive playtime, and playing against human conductors over the Internet extends gameplay. Finally, building your own scenarios with the editor is a snap.
People who downloaded Railroad Tycoon 2: Platinum have also downloaded:
Railroad Tycoon 3, Railroad Tycoon Deluxe, Railroad Tycoon, Sid Meier's Railroads!, Sid Meier's Pirates!, Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings, Panzer General 2, Railroad Pioneer
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