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Strategy First






E (Everyone)



Q1 2002



- Great graphics

- Lots of information/history

- Not too daunting for newbies

- If you love model trains you're in for a treat



- Lacks purpose/goals

- Will appeal exclusively to fans of trains

- Clunky interface in world creation



Review: Railroad Tycoon 3 (PC)



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Score: 7.1 / 10

For once, I was rendered almost completely speechless/thoughtless from playing a game.  When playing Trainz, I had almost no thoughts on the gameplay at hand. It wasnít really because it was bland, boring, predictable, or uninteresting.  It wasnít really any of these things, yet I felt these same emotions simply because I am not a fan of trains.  This is not really the fault of the game, as through and through the look and feel of the game is obviously made by and for fans of trains.  It just so happens that your faithful reviewer doesnít happen to fall into that category.  (But if you're into model trains... hang onto your hats!)

trainz-1.jpg (72366 bytes)         trainz-2.jpg (76216 bytes)

Being open to new experiences, and the interests of others enough to create interesting small talk at boring house parties, I was still not drawn into the fan-dom of the world of Trainz.  This is not really the fault of the developers, but in the past, some games have risen above their subject matter to create a superior gaming experience for most gamers.  This is the primary flaw which holds Trainz back from achieving a higher score.

From the manual to the gameplay, this game has definitely been designed with hardcore fans of trains, and miniature train sets in mind.  There are three actions that can be chosen from the starting menu of Trainz.  First, you can view all the trains that are in your collection.  Here you can view all the trains that come in the retail version, plus any that you download from Auran, after registering your product.  You can rotate and zoom in and out on an in-game graphic-engine image 




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of all the trains, read a detailed history about them, and check out the technical aspects of each train.  My only petition on behalf of train fans may be that the developers could have included a real life photo of each of the trains to accompany the in game graphical representation.


The next mode is the driver mode of gameplay, where aspiring conductors can hop on board the locomotive of 


their choice and drive around on the tracks of North America, Australia, or the UK.  The types of trains, and what is between the locomotive and the caboose can be chosen before embarking on your journey.  The different tracks available have multiple points of diversion and are enough to keep armchair conductors occupied until they get around to designing their own tracks.  There are three views available in the driver mode; one being a cockpit view, another being a chase view, and the last being a chase view which changes to a track camera view at specific points of interest. 

Actually driving the train isnít that complicated despite the lack of a tutorial or any directly relevant material in the manual.  While I can only assume that the driving experience is fairly accurate due to the detail included in what can be manipulated from the cabin, the overall driving experience isnít that rewarding or exciting.  This may stem from the fact that Iím not a fan of trains, but one would think that the developers could have designed a game that would appeal to a larger audience.  Once again this is not entirely the fault of the game, but I wonder if train nuts will be driving their favorite trains over and over again around the track because they find it so exciting. 

In an attempt to create some excitement, I attempted repeatedly to derail my train and met with only limited success.  I did however manage to plow through a building as I did not stop at the end of the line.  There were, however, no big explosions or scenes of mass destruction to whet my appetite.

Finally, I suspect that the surveyor mode is where most gamers will find themselves fiddling about.  In this mode, new tracks can be created with terrain, tracks, objects, and cameras fully customizable.  While the concept is fairly straight forward, actually designing and laying out your new track is a daunting task due to the clunky interface.  This is due in part to the awkward way in which the 3D camera is manipulated with the mouse, and in part to the way in which the different terrains, objects and track sets are accessed.   

trainz-3.jpg (53590 bytes)        trainz-4.jpg (83092 bytes)

Thankfully, despite the complexity of the Surveyor mode, the manual provides enough detail on how to manipulate and navigate this mode adequately.  However, while the manual is quite thorough and thick, it still manages to neglect a tutorial on how to actually get your train started in the driver mode.  Overall, the game offers a fair amount to begin with, and new trains, objects, and track types are available for download from Auran as they become available.  Fans of trains who are owners of PCís and miniature train sets should be satisfied with this game. 

Despite the fact that most genres of game can capture my undivided attention, simulation just isnít my forte.  However, in the past, some simulations have managed to capture my and the general videogame fanís favor.  While not really a train simulator but more of a miniature train set simulator, Trainz comes through as geared for the model train set.  While it's by no means a bad game, it can never be a "great" game due to its extremely limited appeal.

- Mark Leung

(March 6, 2002)


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