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While entertaining to begin with, Sid Meier's Railroads on PC was far too simplistic and repetitive to hold my attention for any length of time. After a couple of hours I had seen virtually everything the game had to offer, so I created my own in-game persona in an attempt to rekindle my interest. With that, I present to you Josiah Chufflebottom - Victorian industrialist and railway mogul extraordinaire.
Chufflebottom was an intriguing fellow; a blustering, ruddy-faced entrepreneur with a unique talent for creating railroads. While his competitors in Sid Meier's Railroads spent years painstakingly designing their railroads and employed hundreds of workers to lay miles of track, all Josiah had to do was state the start and end location of his railroad and it would magically appear across the country, automatically spanning rivers and valleys and weaving through woods and mountains. Even cities bounded aside at the appearance of Josiah's railroads. 'My rails are king and the world bends to their will,' declared Josiah through his handlebar moustache, thumbs thrust under his crimson trouser braces.
Commencing his rail-building venture with a small passenger train between London and Hastings, Chufflebottom quickly gained economic control of the entire south coast of England. Towns moulded themselves around Chufflebottom's rail system, growing from tiny fishing villages into sprawling metropolises. It didn't seem to matter how bewildering the layout of his tracks were, or how many trains Josiah would cram onto a single line, they all reached their destinations with ease, mysteriously passing through one another like ghosts if the tracks became too crowded.
Even the assumption of such an eccentric character could not keep me from becoming thoroughly bored by Sid Meier's Railroads.
Chufflebottom's competitors quailed at his commercial glory. He could outbid anyone for the rights to the latest technology, and business after business saw their stocks plummet into the cavernous maw of his burgeoning monopoly. Once his passenger network was close to completion, Josiah turned his attention to the (very slightly) more complex affair of freight trains - transporting raw materials to be converted into sellable goods and then taking those goods to market. This served as yet another boon to Chufflebottom's industrial juggernaut. Like his trains, the man was simply unstoppable.
Sadly, he never accomplished his aim of networking every town in England with his railroads. Over the years he found laying tracks, building stations, organising timetables and financially crippling the competition increasingly monotonous and soul-destroying. Eventually, the distraught Josiah threw himself in front of one of his own trains, and was no more.
That's right, I killed off Josiah Chufflebottom. Even the assumption of such an eccentric character could not keep me from becoming thoroughly bored by Sid Meier's Railroads. It's a real shame; for the first two hours I quite enjoyed building my rail network and sorting what type of cargo my trains would take to their destinations. I was quietly entranced by the undemanding gameplay and the cute little details sprinkled across the campaign map. The problem is that the entire game consists of repeating the same processes, while occasionally purchasing upgrades for trains and buying stock from other rail companies.
I can't deny being decidedly underwhelmed by the game's severe lack of depth.
On top of this, the little content that is present is far from perfected. I encountered numerous graphical glitches, not least the bizarre 'ghost trains' I mentioned earlier, which resulted in me not bothering to construct my railroads properly. Also, in the later stages of the game I found the campaign map to be far too small for the amount of track I had to lay down.
I'll admit to having some simple, unadulterated fun while playing Sid Meier's Railroads on PC and I extracted a little more pleasure while pretending to be a Dickensian businessman. But I can't deny being decidedly underwhelmed by the game's severe lack of depth, especially when compared to the Railroad Tycoon series. I like a game that I can get my teeth into; Railroads I could swallow whole and barely notice.
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