Trains, for more than a few people these machines are more than just a pure transport vehicle. Train set collectors and builders, trainspotters and people who used to play Railroad Tycoon all know what I’m talking about. Now, with Railway Empire by Kalypso, there is one more option to enjoy trains. All aboard! The review express is about to embark on its journey.
- Railway Empire has really nailed the theme of 1830-1930 America. If you are unfamiliar with this era, the game offers you an excellent taste of the setting, all from the perspective of the budding railroad industry.
- I can listen to the relaxing music for days. The quality of the soundtrack is high, and I never get annoyed by it.
- The game has a good pace. You do have a deadline for tasks in most modes but making steady decisions will usually get you there without the need for frantic and mistake-prone playing.
- The game starts out seemingly simple, but the more you play, the more you encounter with technology trees, industrial espionage, the stock market and more.
- In addition to that, the game also offers a good selection of game modes. The campaign also serves as a tutorial when starting out. Scenarios lets you play specific, well, scenarios. Free mode gives you a list of tasks to complete, with the more you achieve, the higher your score. Finally, the sandbox is fun when you don’t want to deal with tasks to complete or competitors to beat and will just let you play the way you want, with an unlimited budget.
- The tutorials you get through playing the campaign and the in-game help are designed to ease you into playing the game and help you expand your knowledge of the game. However, I had some obvious questions that were never answered, whereas easy concepts sometimes got over explained.
- The game will present you with events and competitor actions, which is all well and good, but I frequently felt I didn’t have the tools to find out what was going on. Maybe this is fitting for the era, but I’d love to have seen more information than just a competitor call me out with a soundbite.
- Except for the sandbox mode, the game locks you into a 20 year period. For instance, starting an 1850 game means it will end on 1870. This can sometimes feel like a huge letdown. On the other hand, it does allow for more focused play sessions.
- While the game interface mostly works well, Some of it is pretty awful in use making you wonder why specific features don’t seem to work or why that easy looking tutorial action doesn’t complete successfully. For example, the helpful icons or videos on the map will block you from actually placing a building until you remove them. Don’t get me started on correctly setting the signals or adjusting the stations a train will stop it. It’s okay once you figured them out, but it’s far from clear when starting out.
- Managing a lot of trains and especially the personnel can get very difficult. The game lacks a good overview of who is working on what train. Sure you can check from the personnel screen, but honestly, that never gave me a clear picture of what the actual situation was.
Railway Empire [8,2/10] is one more entry in the growing list of games that prove strategy games can work quite well on the Xbox. While not as complicated as some titles in the genre, this game can keep you occupied for a very long time. Trainiacs should not hesitate to get on board with this game. If you’re not big on trains or this specific setting, I would probably still recommend it if you are in Tycoon type games.