Transport Fever review - belated train to business
Transport Fever is the next part of a series of economic strategies developed by a small Swiss studio Urban Games . In the game, we take over the management of a transport company that deals with the transport of goods and passengers. The game takes place on maps of various sizes, usually containing from a few to a dozen cities, and numerous mines, farms and processing plants. We use trucks, buses, ships, planes and - the most important in the game - trains to create profitable connections and ensure smooth communication. In Transport Fever, there are 20 types of cargo, transported according to the production tree principle - we deliver the raw materials to the appropriate factories, and these start the production of goods, which we then have to pick up and deliver to stores in cities. If this is not done, the factory loading yard becomes full and production stops, rendering the line transporting the raw material completely useless. We provide passenger transport both between cities and within the same town - from residential districts to commercial, industrial or railway stations, etc.
In clouds of steam
In Transport Fever, we have a short tutorial, sandbox mode and a large campaign at our disposal. Its presence is certainly a great advantage of the game, because in times of widespread domination of sandboxes, a good set of missions is a rare rarity. There is no form of multiplayer game for that.
The campaign takes us on a journey back in time to important events in the history of transport in the USA and Europe. So we can take on such challenges as, for example, excavating the St. Gotthard under the Swiss Alps, or organizing the construction of the Panama Canal. In total, 14 extensive missions are waiting to be played, which gives a total of over 40 hours of gameplay. However, I have the impression that the campaign tasks are a bit too detailed. Most of them consist in transporting a certain amount of goods from one place to another, and there are few typically economic challenges encouraging the proper development of the company.
In the free play mode, we decide ourselves about the parameters of the map and the time period in which we will act. The game covers the period from the mid-nineteenth century to modern times, and with the passage of time, the architecture of the cities and the pool of available vehicles change. Thanks to this, new possibilities of modernizing the rolling stock appear constantly. Unfortunately, Transport Fever was not equipped with the option of competing with artificial intelligence. This is a big lack that has already been pointed out to Train Fever - the previous Urban Games game - and still has not been corrected.
Vehicle traffic management and coordination of multi-stage transports is our main task, and at the same time the greatest asset of the title. When planning transport routes, we have to take care of their appropriate capacity and frequency of vehicles, and synchronization in one system of differently functioning water, land and air routes requires constant combining. In addition, in Transport Fever , as in Transport Tycoon , trains - the backbone of our shipping network - cannot penetrate each other, and if we want to change the composition or replace the locomotive, we have to direct the vehicle to the depot. It all requires careful traction planning and line marking so that the vehicles do not meet on the route. A simple yet effective signaling system helps us in this, thanks to which, with a little imagination, we can optimize virtually any complex tangle of tracks. Solving such a logical puzzle and then watching the smooth operation of the created infrastructure is really a great pleasure .
Before we put up the signaling and mark the lines, however, railroads must be laid. This is achieved by the - unfortunately underdeveloped - tool for building traction and roads. First - and the strangest thing - construction is done by dragging the end of the track with the left mouse button pressed all the time. This solution is inconvenient and not very intuitive. In addition, the game, when marking a longer section of tracks or roads, plans excavations with great panache whenever it encounters even the mildest unevenness of the ground. Traction designed in this way is many times more expensive and, in order to avoid additional costs, we have to arrange it piece by piece manually.
Wajchy and buttons
In such complex games as economic strategies, a clear and functional interface is absolutely crucial. While the previous installment of the series has completely failed in this aspect, there is some improvement in Transport Fever . Individual menus are clearer and frequently used functions are easier to access. Unfortunately, "better" doesn't mean it's okay now. We will still have to deal with one of the most classic interface shortcomings - every action we take causes a whole cascade of pop-up windows that must be closed manually by clicking on the small "x" in the corner. This causes a pile of frames that obscure the screen and - especially at the beginning of the game - leads to a real shoemaker's passion. The interface could also use a greater degree of integration - there are no collective windows, the so-called "Managers" that would allow for comprehensive company management from one place. So if, for example, we want to send a train to the tracks, we will not do it from the line panel, but we have to manually find the depot and only take the appropriate action from its menu. The same goes for most in-game activities. In addition, some panels are overloaded with unnecessary information while missing essential information. We will not even find out how many wagons we can connect to a given locomotive so as not to drastically decrease the acceleration value.
Meanwhile, at the managerial level, the operation of many important mechanisms remains a great unknown. All because of the lack of appropriate information in the game and the proper introduction in the tutorial. We can only guess how our earnings for the transport of goods are calculated. This is a big problem, because when planning new routes, we act in the dark. There are a lot of graphs in the line window, but there is no information on basic things, such as the length of the route. Therefore, it is difficult to determine the cause of problems with the profitability of some connections. In addition, we do not have the ability to precisely control the loading, so control over which goods and in what quantity will reach the recipient must sometimes be carried out by multiplying lines and vehicles along the way.
The catalog of vehicles in Transport Fever is very rich, for which the creators deserve great praise. We have about 160 vehicles from different times at our disposal. The machine models look great - they are detailed, well animated and covered with high-quality textures. So sometimes it's worth taking a break from macro management and zooming in on the view to look at such flavors as, for example, the retracting landing gear in airplanes, which incidentally go around realistically when the runway is occupied by another machine. I also recommend that you turn on the camera from the outside of the vehicle at least once and watch the map from the plane flight. The impressions are really interesting.