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Mac Tycoon Roundup
January 26, 2006 | Marcus Albers

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Mallard crossing a bridge

Railroad Tycoon II & The Second Century
One of the first true "tycoon" games to come out for the Macintosh, Railroad Tycoon II from Gathering of Developers put players in the role of railroad baron, as you try to build a useful and successful railroad line. The goal is to put other railroad lines out of business as you grow your own and take over more and more of the shipping business from whatever area you are working in.

The game uses real-world locations for its towns and cities, although the tracks will be changed to suit your needs, of course. You have full control over both the physical and administrative aspects of your railroad. In much the same way people strategized SimCity, you will have to guess and theorize about what parts of your railway will become popular and where it should go next to reach the next level.

Along with your railway, you will also have to dabble in the stock market to be a true success. But be careful: if you don't watch what you're doing, a rival company might buy your railroad out from under you.

The game uses beautifully rendered isometric graphics for a pseudo-3D look and feel. The graphics, while they may seem dated now, are very detailed and a joy to look at as you watch your railroad empire grow.

A detailed history of your railroad that follows from the beginning of steam engines to around the time of the Second World War helps to round out this excellent, if a bit involved, tycoon game.

Not long after its release, an expansion pack was released. Entitled The Second Century, it includes scenarios that picked up during the Second World War and continued on further into the 20th century. The scenarios are divided into three parts. The first part takes place during World War II, and has you performing critical missions moving parts and supplies around the battlefronts. The second part takes place during the Cold War era, and involves setting up inter-city transit systems, which involves an entirely new set of skills and challenges. The third part takes place "20 minutes in the future" and deals with the "Geocore project." Your missions deal with moving supplies to nuclear power plants and moving the waste away. Along the way, the project goes awry, and it is up to you to clear up the mess.

This add-on really adds to the replay value of Railroad Tycoon II and makes it one of the best tycoon games available for the Macintosh.

Second Century review

Railroad Tycoon 3
In 2004, MacSoft brought Macintosh gamers the long-awaited sequel to Railroad Tycoon II, the aptly-titled Railroad Tycoon 3. Bringing it into the next era of gaming, the developers eschewed the 2D graphics of the original and decided upon a 3D engine to bring the engines to life.

The game itself is split up into a campaign mode, which consists of a number of specific scenarios spanning the 20th and 21st century, single scenarios, a multiplayer mode, and a "sandbox" mode. The sandbox mode will be of most interest to new players, as it allows you to discover the different aspects of the game without financial or time constraints. See what different building decisions lead to, explore different design ideas, do whatever you want. It's the perfect learning experience. Of course, for those who don't learn these kinds of things well on their own, there is an extensive tutorial to get you up to speed on what you need to know to start out with Railroad Tycoon 3.

Once you finish all of the included scenarios, and tire of whipping everyone's butt on GameRanger, you can go to the Internet and download a nearly endless variety of scenarios for the game. The replay value on this game is huge with that feature alone.

While Railroad Tycoon II seemed a bit daunting for new players, Railroad Tycoon 3 helps by taking some of the micromanagement of the railroad off of the shoulders of the player and deals with it itself. The Consist manager is able to manage the cargo aspects of the game by itself, so you can concentrate on the other aspects of the game. This is a huge part of the game, and while there are going to be times when you will have to manage the cargo manually to achieve the desired results, many times you will be able to let the simulation do it for you.

Another useful aspect of the game is the ability to pause time, allowing you to performing certain design and financial tasks without having to race against the clock. There is a limit to what can be done while the game is paused, but it gets rid of the frantic scrambling for controls and menus that many games of this type require.

This game is a worthwhile addition to the Railroad Tycoon line, and with a much shallower learning curve than its predecessor, makes for a better introduction to the line, as well.

Railroad Tycoon 3 review


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