Official Game Summary:
Relive the pioneering spirit of the Golden Age of Steam by establishing your own railroad empire across 19th century North America. Race against time, as well as the competition, to bring settlements together, produce and trade goods and develop new technologies.
- Create and build a 19th Century Railroad Corporation.
- Where necessary to keep the railroad in budget and on track build lines through mountains, across gulleys and add rolling stock as needed.
- The designers have been as historically accurate with their choice and design of engines, carriages, freight cars etc.
- Buy land, buildings, businesses when you have the money freely available and can afford to take a hit if your plans don't come off as hoped. Having a business empire gives you a lot of influence though it's up to you how you use it.
- Play solo or against an opponent/opponents. The harder the competition the tougher it is, the more fun it can be.
- Only if you feel it is totally necessary get involved in politics and lobbying, also only play the stock market when you feel the need to defend your empire.
TRAIN Games can be a lot of fun, they can be a lot of work, they can be beautiful, they can be basic, they can require the running of a train or trains, they can require the running of the railroad, they can also require organising train schedules, pick ups of passengers and goods, building the tracks between cities, farms, commercial, industrial and housing areas and then running trains over those lines. RAILROAD CORPORATION is one of those latter mentioned games - it is like buying and creating then building your own railway set, but on a scale more like Rod Stewarts.
It isn't truly intuitive so it is good that you can play a campaign without a time limit, though once you are comfortable with the controls you can put the time limiter in play; win-win!
It is also imperative that you don't 'over-click'. I ran a train from A to B, but before I could unload the goods it was carrying as needed by B, it was on the lines and heading back from whence it came. When this happens I have found no way to stop the train and reverse its course, I simply have to wait for it to stop (run out of my over-clicks) and then set it back on the journey I want it on.
Loading is quite easy to get the hang of, and unloading, as in negating a load just selected is easy, but it isn't (at least it doesn't look or feel to be, as far as I can understand it) the same mechanic for unloading goods at a city/town/village.
Compared to other train company, train running games, the interface takes more getting used to. But then this isn't just a build-a-railway-run-a-train game, it's a fairly complete simulation of how a small train company can build into a commercially successful conglomerate if you, the player, can give the time, energy and (game) money to it. As your business expands your business tactics and dealings have to change with the times. If you play Stock Markets the probability is that you will lose control of your Corporation, it's harder than it looks and not as fruitful as you imagine.
Some of it is brilliant; beautiful graphics, lovely old style Steam Engines, exceptional fun when building Tunnels and Bridges - my bridge (shown in the screenshot below) spanning across a wide, deep gulch, looks just like the old style constructions seen in TV shows and old movies; quite nostalgic and simply exquisite.
Once you are familiar with the mechanics and controls the game becomes easier but never loses its edge. There is always something trying to prevent you from being as successful as you think you should be or stop you building your rail lines where you want them; planning from the detailed maps is everything. Make the right decision at the best time and success is yours, but as stated, you have to plan for that success and thus for the decision you need to make coming at the time you really need to make it. It can be played multi-player but in truth I have only played it solo on my PC via the Steam delivery system.
RAILROAD CORPORATION is quite like a sandbox game except that to go off all over the place costs money, and your income comes from running your Railroad, so running it on time and tightly controlled is better than 'playing railroads' like a kid with a train set. Having said that, the track laying mechanic in this game can be just as inflexible and fiddly as when you are handling actual pieces of plastic rail (as in a regular train-set) that will not go where you want them to without a bend here and there and a little bit of force. Trying to make the shortest curve around a rock etc can take ages as it is difficult to control the building and each little movement of your mouse can put 'miles' onto the design. Sure, as long as you don't left-click the track will not be placed but you are still left with a long, curly, wriggling snake on a stick, sort of onscreen trail.
There are many things to like about RAILROAD CORPORATION but equally there are as many things that are nonentities (missions for example are mainly weak and uninteresting) and bothersome. It's a real mixed-bag. It's not a 'marmite' game (like it or hate it). If you can get your head into vocation mode you will probably find this a really good business model. I, personally am torn. I keep coming back to it but after a short length of play-time my interest wanes and I look elsewhere for something on which to spend my valuable spare time. Of course the fact that I keep coming back to it should be meaningful.
You can find it online for £23.79 basic or £27.73 for the Railroad Corporation Deluxe Edition Bundle, making it an average priced Steam game. It is ironic/amusing that it is a Steam Railway game on Steam.