I have very mixed feelings about trains. On several occasions, I've been more than happy to sit back in relative comfort, drinking a cup of funny-
This saves the hassle of driving to a place oneself and takes care of the even larger and more expensive headache of finding a place to park once you arrive - so trains are good, in that respect.
On the downside, I live directly behind what was formerly an industrial railway line, now converted into the so-called "tourist attraction" of the East Lancashire Steam Railway.
At the time of writing this (Sunday afternoon at home, in case anyone important is reading) I can hardly hear myself think, mainly because there are between 80 and 100 people chattering excitedly directly below my window awaiting the arrival of the Flying Scotsman, an apparently very famous train which the management have hired for a month.
This has been the case every weekend for the last three weeks, and I would just like to say that if you are one of those people who stopped your car in the middle of our road, or trampled on my mum's rosebush, or just generally made a nuisance of yourself during this hallowed flying Scotsman period, then you ought to get yourself a god-damn life. There - I feel better now.
A-Train is brought to us by Maxis - those strategy gurus responsible for the epic Sim games (or "software toys" as they like to call them), and it would be very easy to compare it to any of their previous products, so I won't.
The basic aims are pretty much the same though - oops, there I go, a comparison already - the idea being that you must earn yourself as much power and money as possible Sporting th name it does, it's a reasonable assumption that A-Train will contain fairly hefty train-like overtones. But it isn't all railroading - in fact this is just one part of what is effectively a multi-
Of course it's important to create an efficient and well patronised rail network, but equally important are developments around it - industrial, housing and recreational. Without these, there wold be no point or attraction in people travelling to a destination, so the more attractive a location the better.
Apartments, houses, offices, skyscrapers, golf courses and amusement parks all contribute to the value and attraction of a site, and all give more reason for potential visitors. But these all need to be built first - therefore factories must be erected, manned and out into operation. All of the projects mean parting with that well-loved wonga, and early delays in finishing could mean bankruptcy, and a perky little "game over" message.
Bank loans are available (and advisable) for large projets, and your profits and losses are constantly available for checking through one of the easy-to-
Back to the trains though, since these are the main subject of the game. Having constructed a workable line, with trains carrying supplies for your buildings, it's time to start earning yourself some passengers by enlarging your network. Trains are required to carry people to and from work, and the schedules must reflect this. Also, additional trains may be required at the weekend once you have established some leisure complexes.
Laying the tracks themselves is a reasonably simple affair, although - true to life - there are only certain terrains on which a railway can be built, and therefore a line needs to be carefully planned if it isn't to cost loads more than it should.
A problem I frequently had at the beginning was that, keen lad that I am, I scheduled trains aplenty, only to find myself with several costly wrecks to take care of. Time runs as quickly or slowly as you want it to, and a financial year is from April to April. An impressive visual touch is the atmospheric dusk and night times - much better than the very lacklustre sound.
If you are looking for a ga- er... software toy that's quick to load and good fun for half an hour, then look elsewhere. If it;s a long-
There isn't any way to run out winner as such, because the game allows you to continue your powermongering until you're blue in the face, but the beauty of games such as this has always been the fact that they are virtually endless.
Sim City fans will lap this up - it's much more involved (and more fun) than SC, but be warned, although the icons are very clear and the game itself about as visual as can be, the sheer size of the whole affair means that a lot of manual reading and/or frustrating attempts are required before any satisfaction begins to seep through.