Transport Fever 2, which funnily enough is the third instalment in the Fever series, is very much an evolution of its predecessor. Urban Games are again offering you the chance to be the master of your own transport empire, as you shuffle goods and people around the world by road, water, and air.
Starting up the game, the first thing you will notice compared to the previous games is the graphical overhaul. The maps look better than ever, with intricate details for both the vehicles and environment making the maps feel alive whether you’re looking at the hustle and bustle of a city, or taking a look at wild animals grazing the countryside.
Starting a Free Play sandbox game presents you with a brilliant map editor. You start by selecting your climate, which includes temperate, dry or tropical settings, and can then tune the map by adjusting parameters such as the topography, how much water is present, how many islands, canyons or forests there are and so on. You can then easily adjust the number of settlements as well as the number of industries, so you can tailor your map to exactly how you want it. If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s always the random seed generator or you can play other people’s maps and saves.
The thing that really shines for the editor is the fact that you’re shown a mini-map style preview as you are adjusting all of these parameters. This quickly re-generates as you play about with the various sliders meaning you know exactly what the map will look like and where towns will be placed before you even begin, and cutting out the lengthy load times of the last game only to find something awful. After selecting your starting year and difficulty, as well as the theme for your vehicles – European, American, or Asian – you can begin creating your transport empire in any which way you please.
There is a campaign as well, which acts as a tutorial, guiding you through the basics from starting your first bus route, to transporting cargo from factory to town. Starting in the 1850’s, the campaign is divided into three parts playing right up to the modern era, giving you experience with different types of vehicles in a variety of continents, as well as offering plenty of playing time.
The objectives are set to give you a fair amount of freedom, which is sometimes both a blessing and a curse, as there were a couple of occasions where I didn’t know where I needed to focus my attention. There’s also bonus objectives which are totally optional, with some funny ones and a couple that are completely bizarre.
Perhaps the biggest gameplay change is that each settlement now only has demand for 2 different goods, as opposed to the multitude of goods before. Though it’s simplifying the game, I like the way this lets you focus on getting your production lines working efficiently, rather than having to manage several different lines. Some players may think it makes the game easier, but you still often have to transport several raw materials to different processing industries before you can take them to the main factory for final assembly and then deliver them to town. My main gripe is that production doesn’t start until the entire production chain has been completed, and it’s not always clear why factories aren’t working or passengers are ignoring the brand new train line you’ve created between two settlements.
Other changes include updates to the UI that makes it feel less cluttered than before, although it can still be difficult to get a good overview of your different lines and routes as you head later into the game. The finance screen has had a bit of an update, so it’s clearer to see what’s draining your money (I find railway infrastructure is normally to blame!), while the ability to expand your stations and airports in a modular fashion works really well as your empire grows throughout the game.