Transport Fever put to the test - the new Transport Tycoon?

Author: Benjamin Danneberg
Date: 2016-11-08 14:33:00
With Transport Fever, the indie studio Urban Games is attacking the genre milestone Transport Tycoon, but fails because of avoidable little things.

Well-known game principle

Our job is to build stations and tracks , buy trains and move people. For this we use the currently available means of transport. While we started with a simple horse-drawn carriage in local public transport in 1850, many years later a Volvo bus hums along urban asphalt roads.

In order for cities to grow, we not only have to ensure passenger transport: we also need goods, tools and food for the trading areas as well as building materials, machines and fuel for industry. The former improves shopping opportunities, the latter creates new jobs.

We have these commodities manufactured in factories that in turn need raw materials. We combine 18 different goods in multi-part transport chains. Example: Iron and coal are processed into steel, the resulting waste product slag is further processed into building material. The steel is turned into machines (for industry) and tools (for trade) in another factory.

Often, end products can be made from two different raw materials, for example plastic can be made either from grain or from oil. If we still deliver both, production increases accordingly. By the way, we are not allowed to build companies ourselves, they are automatically placed when the cards are randomly generated.

Transport by FlieWaTüüt

Goods are transported by road (truck terminals), rail (freight yards) and, more recently, also by water. The ports and the associated ships (both for freight and passengers) are an asset and not only ensure large transport capacities, but also a significant increase in the model building wonderland atmosphere . The same goes for the new airports. Taking off and landing Boeings are a real eye-catcher, even if the Jumbos unfortunately only transport passengers.

The game hasn't changed in principle, but while the options in Train Fever were quickly exhausted, in Transport Fever it is only just beginning. Satisfying a single city one hundred percent and balancing all its needs can take dozens of hours . Especially when we manually plan each freight line (for example, by assigning fixed freight to the vehicles instead of having them loaded automatically). Then a whole universe of tinkering and strategy opens up, in which we can test our planning skills to excess.

Two is better than zero ...

... thought Urban Games built two campaigns into Transport Fever as a big innovation compared to its predecessor. In the European campaign, for example, we're digging the Gotthard tunnel in Switzerland, while we're helping Nikola Tesla with the introduction of electricity or smuggling alcohol on the American continent. The exceptionally successful framework activities skilfully loosen up what is actually always the same transport principle.

There are always cool side tasks between the main missions: While we help dig out the Panama Canal, for example, we can drain swamps so that swarms of mosquitoes don't torment our workers - which otherwise results in higher costs. Or we should protect the population of rare gold frogs for an animal rights activist by avoiding or afforesting certain areas.

Another new element are the decisions that we are allowed to make as part of the campaigns. Do we take the scalps of the Indians who stand in the way of the railroad according to the established American tradition and break their resistance? Or do we bribe them - according to another American tradition - with firewater ? Both have consequences that we must consider.

In addition, the campaign also helps to consolidate the basics of the game learned in the tutorial, because the tasks within each of the seven missions (the game time per campaign is seven to ten hours) only slowly become more complex. The solo missions are a real asset to the game and will make Transport Fever accessible to those planners who can't do that much with a free sandbox. However, in addition to the many good innovations, there are also a few flaws in the game that also plagued the predecessor.

Operating annoyance

Why the hell can't we right-click the demolition tool? Why does the construction menu close when we have set up a truck terminal? Maybe you want to build a second one? And why do the menu windows keep pushing themselves out of the picture so that we have to laboriously adjust them?

The fiddly and confusing menus still take getting used to. It takes a while to find the freight allocation for vehicles (only available when purchasing!), And the replacement of vehicles only works automatically if we set it up for the entire line. We then have to do the associated click terror for all lines individually - once we have over thirty freight lines, activating a new truck is no longer a pure reason to be happy.

If we upgrade a train station or port, the cargo or passengers stored there will disappear . While the actual upgrade is very easy via a context menu, we are also constantly presented with the message "Collision during terrain adjustment" when the platforms are extended. We read this personal hate report next to "The slope is too big" in every second building project, which makes a new building or some kind of replacement necessary. In addition, if a structure is demolished, the change in the terrain remains.

That may be realistic, but not nice. At least we are allowed to fill the holes in the dirt with a Terraform tool for a fee. In addition, we can now spruce up the area with trees, stones, lamp posts and noise barriers. With the latter, however, the operation is currently very bad because the wall parts do not click into place.

The important construction of tracks and roads goes well by hand. But if we try to build bridges over water or abysses, we are often presented with the error messages already mentioned. Managing train lines with signals works really well when we set up our rail system perfectly. But as soon as we let two trains run automatically on two separate tracks and allow track changes via switches, the trouble starts: For some reason, trains in stations always want to use the first track - regardless of whether there is a second or a third. The general vehicle behavior is also in need of improvement. Carts like to block each other, especially at intersections, because there are no traffic lights.

Better performance

Graphically, not much has changed compared to its predecessor. We observe more details in the houses; the 165 vehicles are really well done. Many of them are already known from Train Fever, but ships and planes are new and look very good as usual.

The game is extremely stable and only crashed twice in around 50 hours of testing. The performance, especially on large maps, has been improved, but is not yet perfect: Transport Fever does not run smoothly at the fastest game speed, especially when there are many vehicles on the move, even on powerful computers. But it's still playable, and that's an important improvement. Nevertheless, we recommend players with weak computers to be content with small or medium-sized cards.

As a transport simulation, Transport Fever has developed much further in breadth (vehicles) and in depth (supply chains, needs and partially improved management) compared to its predecessor. With that, the game has taken a significant step forward. If the guys from Urban Games stay on the ball, improve the operation, continue to tweak the scope of the transport chains and maybe even introduce competing companies, then the game is well on the way to becoming the successor to the good old transport tycoon that fans already believe long wish.