Review for Railway Empire

Publisher Kalypso Media is known for many tactical games and simulation games. Perhaps the most famous is the Tropico series, surprisingly similar to the new Railway Empire even though another studio released it. It’s no secret that there are enough all kinds of railway tycoon simulators, but few can boast of the charm and intuition that are inherent in the latest creation of Gaming Minds, who were able not only to breathe life into a niche genre, but also successfully transfer it to consoles.

Railway Empire is easy to understand: the player is invited to take over the management of a railway company, which seeks to connect all the major cities of the vast United States of America. This is a battle of wits and capital, and a test of what you are willing to go to achieve your goal.

I confess that from the very beginning I was impressed by the idea of ​​creating an understandable railroad simulator that would work on all platforms. There are alternatives to Railway Empire — but they are all on PC, and hardly very welcoming towards newcomers. Railway Empire is not like that: it is clear and intuitive, and, most surprisingly, it has a great interface.

An adequate interface is made for each platform. The console, for example, uses the good old «wheel». No cursors for you, thank God.

Many games of the traditionally «computer» genres have difficulties with the port on the console. Sometimes the problem is in the hardware, but most often the developers themselves are to blame, who are too lazy to adapt the controls for the controllers. The most recent example is The Sims 4, which never got rid of the cursor and microscopic text. But where Maxis failed, Germany’s Gaming Minds did well. Railway Empire’s controls work perfectly on the console, and remain understandable even for those who are more used to games of a completely different plan.

However, despite all the intuitiveness of Railway Empire, you cannot call it unpretentious. There are all the elements of a tactical game. At first, your task is extremely simple: build train stations and unite cities and farms. Create train routes and watch your coffers fill with dollars. But this is only at first, when the player is given a large start-up capital and cities that are not far from each other. Gradually, the complexity grows: competitors appear, ready to do anything to annoy you: they pave paths right next to your farms, buy factories and even send spies and saboteurs, about which they kindly notify you.

The tasks also get more difficult: the cities to be connected are farther and farther, and require tricky layouts that will force you to spend all your money on tunnels over mountains or bridges over rivers. And no matter how the game tries to enter everything accurately, beginners will certainly get confused in some tasks, and miss something. It’s hardly a Railway Empire wine — just a genre-specific element.

Wait a little longer, and you will have to monitor entire industries, transporting cotton from one farm to a city with a factory, and then transporting the finished product to some metropolis. You can both play on the stock exchange and buy back shares of competitors. In the case of a particularly successful campaign, you can even outbid the entire competing business. It is necessary not only to lay the tracks, but also to renew the locomotives. You can hire conductors and work on the structure of the train.

Railway Empire tries in every possible way to be friendly towards those who have never seen games of this genre before, but confusion cannot be avoided, especially when the headache appears not due to the player’s fault, but by chance — for example, when the train decides to break down for no apparent reason. It is important to learn from the very beginning how to spread the rails so that the two trains do not collide with each other or get stuck on the tracks. The first ten hours will be full of such confusion: some trains will refuse to load this or that product; some will simply break and get stuck in traffic jams. Railway Empire requires attention, diligence and patience.

From time to time, newspaper clippings appear on the screen, reporting on the latest successes and failures of entrepreneurs and telling various anecdotes that have nothing to do with what is happening. The humor in Railway Empire is surprisingly good — there are even unexpected references to South Park, so read the newspapers carefully.

The actors responsible for the voices of stereotypical New York gangsters and arrogant British snobs do their best, although their main task was not to read the text as best as possible, but to disguise the German accent as authentically as possible and pass it off as, for example, Texas. You can also turn off voices — they are completely optional here.

Visually, Railway Empire will not disappoint anyone: the game has a huge number of authentic details: the locomotives are worked out, and the cities really look like cities. Despite the fact that you will lead your empire from a bird’s eye view, no one bothers you to bring any piece of the map close. To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised by the level of graphics of Railway Empire: the cities are very detailed, and the textures are of high quality. The game looks clean and tidy, while it runs amazingly smoothly and responsively — even on the weaker stock PS4 or Xbox models. The download speed is also pleasing — this is a surprisingly high-quality port. You can get close to the camera, looking at every little thing.

As for the sound, Railway Empire is not perfect, but it remains at the level. The game has several eras, which correspond to locomotives, cities and music. Music is not annoying — and that’s all. It complements what is happening on the screen, but you will hardly want to run to download the soundtrack.

Railway Empire is a good, even great game in many categories. Since the beta version, the developers have been working on making the game as understandable as possible.

Verdict

Railway Empire is a game with great potential. There is an excellent foundation for a full-fledged series. A detailed world, changing eras, interesting art, a large selection of locomotives and opportunities to win — everything is great here. Railway Empire is not cheap and requires a lot from the player, but if you like these games, or have always wanted to try something like this, Railway Empire will not disappoint you.

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29.8.2020