Railroad Tycoon III – As you might be able to tell from one of my prior posts on the blog, I am a big railroad fan. In my eyes, there is nothing more impressive than the engineering behind your classic steam locomotive nor the tracks laid by hard working men across some of the worst terrains. So it is only logical that I would be a fan of Railroad Tycoon III. I also own Railroad Tycoon II (plus expansion pack), and while I played it for years, it pales in comparison to the added abilities in the new version (as well as the fantastic 3-D graphics).
The game places you in control of a large sum of money and the ability to tap investors to start up your own company. While the goal of most of the scenarios and maps is for you to connect various cities together by rail lines and transport certain quantities of goods by a specific date, you are also capable of running a company that owns the various industries around the cities which provide the railroads with the raw resources and finished goods to be transported and consumed. Most players will tackle both aspects of the game during play, since building up the local industries increase your rail profits between cities. Additionally, you normally face competing railroads who are trying to achieve similar goals as yourself. Depending on the difficulty levels you select, these competing companies can be completely insignificant or devastating. Due to competition, you also have access to the stock market, where you can buy up controlling stakes in your competition and force take-over’s during the game. Watch out though, since your competitors can do the same to you.
You have two main ways to play the game, either in the scenario mode which walks you from the very beginning of railroading technology through modern/future technology, or in the single mission/sandbox mode. In the scenario mode, you progress through the various technological and cultural stages of railroading history, completing series of missions as you go along. In the single scenario mode, you can choose an individual map and compete with the computer to achieve victory conditions. In the sandbox mode, there is no competition nor business expenses . . . just lay your track as you see fit. As with Railroad Tycoon II, you are able to create/import new maps for you to play on. There are many websites available where RR3 fans have created and uploaded their own maps for you to download if you do not have the time or skill to create your own.
This is a great game for anyone who enjoys SimCity-type games, but provides the personal interaction you might otherwise lack in the other games.