Fans of Urban Studio’s debut game, Train Fever, will have almost certainly been keeping an eye on this sequel. This transport-tycoon follow up adds airports and harbours letting you expand your transport empire into water and air trade, as well as improving other aspects, culminating into Transport Fever.
For those unfamiliar with the series, your job is to connect the settlements and buildings across the map, helping passengers and resources get from one place to another. The trick is doing this without running out of money for your growing network.
The procedurally generated map contains numerous settlements, as well as factories and other resource buildings which produce goods. These goods can then be transported to your settlements, bringing prosperity to the residents who, of course, also require a solid transport system to get about. Kicking off in 1850, you’ll see settlements expand, new vehicles invented and the demands on your growing transport network increasing.
As the game progresses, new vehicles offer faster movement of people and goods, allowing you to expand your transport network and increase your profits. With a huge array of trains, aircrafts, ships, buses, trams and trucks at your disposal, the choice is yours as to where to focus your efforts. You will always begin by creating small bus networks within your settlements, helping people get from their homes to their place of work quicker. Every settlement has various zones (Residential, Industrial, Commercial, and Leisure), and it is wise to ensure each zone is well linked to maximise the development.
Although horse-drawn carriages are slow, they are a simple source of income, provided that the route or line you set up is quicker than walking. As time progresses, you will eventually have to either replace or upgrade your vehicles, to motorised buses or trams. You still need to think carefully about when and what to upgrade. Maintenance fees increase as each vehicle gets older, but upgrading a fleet is always a costly expense. Eventually your settlements will grow to a point where you need multiple lines serving different areas, but you often try to link these to a central hub such as a railway station.
Railway stations are the gateway to intercity travel. Avoiding the grid system that many transport or city builders rely on, the game gives you free reign over where to place your tracks (or roads). Simple improvements here have made a huge impact to the game, and creating larger railway junctions are now possible without all the headaches of before. Alternatively, you can also now build bridges over existing railways.
In Train Fever, railways were the only way of transporting goods or people over larger distances. The addition of ships and planes opens up a wealth of opportunity for how you run your network, even if they are rather expensive. On the largest maps, where journeys by rail only make sense between the closer settlements, building airports allows you to overcome these barriers, much like it did in the real world in the 1950’s and 60’s when mass air travel took off. (No pun intended!)
As I mentioned in our preview, one of the best additions to the game is the introduction of a campaign mode. With two campaigns, one based in Europe and one in America, you have 7 missions on each continent to complete. Based upon real world challenges, such as the building of the Gotthard tunnel, they bring structure and guidance to those that want it, though you should not for a moment think that they are easy! Step by step, they guide you into building your transport empire from the beginning to end, while still giving you the freedom to operate your network how you wish.
That said, I still really enjoy the sandbox mode, which allows you to play with complete freedom and mess around with crazy networks without having to worry about the profitability of each line depending on your settings. Overall I feel that this is still the game’s biggest strength, the fact that you are free to manage and expand your transport network exactly how you want.
Other improvements include settlements looking far more varied and unique. A wide variety of buildings mean that when zoomed in, you notice small details such as billboards to the side of a building and balconies covered by parasols. The same attention to detail is carried over to the vehicles, which exhibit a sublime amount of detail considering that you’ll usually be zoomed out in order to oversee larger sections of the map. As vehicles get older, visible signs of age will appear such as dirt and rust, adding to the authenticity.
While I feel the initial asking price might be a tad high, there’s countless hours of play time to be found here. With over 120 different vehicles and new tools at your disposal, you have even greater choice in how you manage your transport company. If you missed out on Train Fever, and are a fan of tycoon games that require a firm grip on a business in a complex economy, you really should take a look at this game. At the same time, if you enjoyed the first game then it’s highly unlikely you will be disappointed with Transport Fever, as it adds new game modes, new vehicles and new ways to play.