Train Fever

[Review] Train Fever brings the classic Rail Tycoon genre into the modern ages. But how does it hold up?
The Details
  • Title: Train Fever
  • Web: Official Site
  • Developer: Urban Games
  • Publisher: Gambitious
  • Released: 4 September, 2014
  •  
  • Platforms: PC
  • Reviewed On: PC

I love tycoon style games, especially when they let me building anything anywhere. Train Fever is no different, I find it addicting and, for the most part, rewarding. Train Fever does the same thing as most other train tycoon games, it lets you build a railway system and then attempt to make profits from it. It does a few things differently though.

Passengers are my bread and butter at the moment, mainly because I can’t seem to get the cargo system to work for me. Passengers are actual citizens in your cities, they have jobs and homes and commute to various different places. This is where we try and make our money. I start all my games by building a bus route (I haven’t really used trams, but they work in a very similar way) that links the residential, commercial and industrial areas of the city. This creates a route for anyone wanting to go to these places. It often works, but citizens aren’t stupid, if they live a few streets away from their place of work, they won’t hop on your bus to get them there, oh no, they’ll walk.

Citizens, required for my profits, but so unpredictable.

 

This makes Train Fever a step above the other tycoon games that I’ve played, especially ‘Sid Meier’s Railroads!‘, which I must confess, is a favourite of mine. In other games, you build a line and then dictate to the game what cargo you’re going to transport and where you’re going to take it. This is not how it happens in real life, in real life, there are goods and a courier offers to take those goods to an agreed destination. However, at no point does a courier dictate to a company where their goods will be going and how much of them will be going there, which is basically what other tycoon games allow you to do. This is what Train Fever tries to break away from and it does so with a large amount of success.

As I was saying before, citizens pick where they are going and how they are going to get there. early on in the game they often choose your bus services as they’re faster than walking, but later on when cars come in, oh boy, that’s a different story. Once cars come into the picture, citizens have a new, often faster choice, drive there. You’re now competing with their own cars and it seems to me that this is a loosing battle. In the space of 5 years my bus routes went from making over a million in profits each (one city bus route made me on average £1.9 million a year) to making me a loss of almost £300 thousand each. I tried different routes, moving teh stops, adding more vehicles, but in the end nothing worked out for me and my bus routes became redundant, which was a massive shame, especially so early in the game (1960’s).

This was my cargo attempt. A single track ran alongside my passenger tracks to various cargo destinations. It never worked.

 

The one thing I loved in other rail tycoon games was shipping cargo. I find something fun about linking up various industries and trying to connect supply chains in a logical order without creating congestion. In Train Fever however, I’ve not been able to do this. The reason for this is that I simply cannot get the cargo to actually move anywhere. In Train Fever there are only a couple of basic resources, so to name the one that gave me a brain aneurysm, steel. Steel consists of a coal mine, ore mine and finally a steel mill which produces “Goods” that can be used by a city. “Goods” have nothing distinct about them, regardless of which factory produced them, wooden “Goods” are the same as steel “Goods” which in turn are the same as oil refinery “Goods”. This, for me, detracts from the cargo production line as it means that a city cannot have a specific demand for any singular “Goods”. Once a cities demand for “Goods” is met, that is it, it will not accept goods from anything else.

I like to build big routes that are nicely spread out. I never get a build up of train traffic.

I like to build big routes that are nicely spread out. I never get a build up of train traffic.

 

So, my steel line. I had a coal mine, ore mine and steel mill in rather close proximity to one another and also half way between two cities. “Cha-ching!” I thought to myself as I built some road depots to collect the goods. This was a very profitable system for a while, but there was one major hitch. The steel mill refused to send goods to one of the cities, it also used its own transport no matter what I did. To make matters even worse, it didn’t dispatch its “Goods” from the steel mill to the city, oh no, it sent the “Goods” from the mill to the depot in the other city, where they would then proceed to walk all the way back on themselves to the other city, past the steel mill where they originated from. This was, for me, infuriating. This isn’t a one time occurrence either, I used a fast electric train to link up some mines and mills and 3 cities.

Now according to the devs, lines aren’t used if the destination is more than 20 minutes travel time, the line in question had a travel time of 3 minutes, mainly because I dug gigantic £2 million tunnels through hills to make the line super-fast. So, why wasn’t the line producing anything? All 3 destination cities had a massive demand for “Goods” (100+), none of which were being fulfilled, yet the coal mine produced a shocking 1 coal per month whilst the ore mine produced nothing resulting in the mill producing no goods. Clicking on the mines and mill, all three said they were using my line, the cities had a demand for “Goods” and the electric trains could deliver in an astonishing time-frame due to my sneaky tunnels. But nothing happened.

Signals don’t quite work right. Trains pick the fastest route to a station, often meaning a straight line that cuts across several other lines causing chaos. The devs say they are going to fix this with a way-point system. I really hope so.

 

This is just one example of how confusing and broken some features in Train Fever are and I’m running out of words for this article. It’s a wonderful game, I’ve lost many hours to it building my perfect routes. But it’s all often ruined by either production lines not producing for any logical reasons, or because the course of time makes my lines obsolete compared to personal road travel. There are bugs present in the game and building bridges/ level crossing can be a massive head ache, but all these things could be overlooked if the lines functioned correctly. There’s also currently no way to select which track a line runs on, so the game auto-selects the fastest route, often crossing various lines causing congestion. The devs have said they’re working on a fix and I really do hope they come through on this.

Train Fever is an amazing game that’s currently hampered by a few flaws, it’s just a shame that those flaws destroy the overall experience, often leaving you frustrated. If the devs update the various areas that need work, this game will be an excellent experience and would certainly be receiving a 9/10 from me. But in its current state it becomes frustrating to play, especially after the 1950’s when cars make your entire system that you’ve spent several hours building, completely and utterly useless.

 

I’ll update this when/if the flaws get ironed out.

 

Update 07/03/15

Train Fever has received a number of updates since I originally posted this review. It’s received a whole new free DLC and a bunch of new features such as way-points for directing your trains.

Unfortunately I couldn’t even be bothered to get into the game (literally didn’t finish my first line), the building system has been further broken and it’s now more annoying than ever. A remarkable new bug is track no longer being recognised by the track laying function, meaning tracks you’re currently building can become useless as you can no longer extend them in any direction. This leads to you having to demolish whole sections of track (at YOUR expense) just to build a simple, straight line. I’ve removed a further 2 points from my overall score. The game should be getting better, not worse and these new issues are seriously detracting from the overall gaming experience, I didn’t even get to try the new way-point system. This is really disappointing as the few issues the game had could have been ironed out and the game would be an easy 8 or 9. I’ll update again after the next patch or two.

 

HD Gallery

Judgement
Pros:
  • This game would be a 9/10 if it wasn't for its flaws.
  • Lovely graphics and scenery.
  • It's fun to create a working rail system.
  • Bus routes are fun and give an added distraction to the typical rail system.
  • Dynamic city building is great, creating unique sights that create unpredictable problems for you to solve.
Cons:
  • Building can become a chore with seemingly nonsensical errors left, right and centre.
  • Most vehicles eat more money in maintenance costs than they can possibly produce.
  • Income to time is unbalanced. It often takes several months for a train to reach its destination, only to make a small profit.
  • I have yet to create a profitable cargo rail system. Even with a fast train connecting several resources and cities, nothing gets produced with no info as to why.
  • Building is even more broken as of 07/03/15.
NaytoE on FacebookNaytoE on Twitter
NaytoE
Web Master at CoupesCorner
Nathan is lumbered with all the technical stuff behind CoupesCorner. If stuff breaks, it's always someone else's fault, but he'll fix it, because he's a pretty awesome guy.

Nathan loves tactical shooters, RPG's and Bro-Ops games. Some all-time favourites of his are Black and White 2, Postal 2, the Rainbow Six series and Pokemon. He also loves playing guitar and fishing with his dad, when Lozzy isn't busy making him do stuff...
Related Posts