Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone



The latest release from the gaming gurus at Poptop software happens to be a revamp of one of the most popular and successful strategy/simulation titles to date. Railroad Tycoon II Platinum builds upon the original release from 1998, adding a plethora of new features, scenarios, and options to the now classic title that will not only entice new players to the game, but will also fill the void of wanting for those previous Tycoon II fans in desperate need to upgrade their own railway empire.

Following close on the heels of their release of the highly successful and acclaimed simulation/strategy title Tropico several months ago, Poptop software and Take2 Interactive have opted for their latest release a fully updated and revamped version of their original groundbreaking 1998 game, Railroad Tycoon II. The platinum edition of the game not only captures the essence of the first release, it also adds a multitude of new bells and whistles in order to garner the attention of the neophyte simulation/strategy game player and the original Tycoon II fan as well.

As the title of the game suggests, Railroad Tycoon II Platinum centers itself around the world of the train industry, putting you in charge of a potentially vast railroad empire.  Utilizing your unquenchable ambition, tangible funding options, and even old fashioned guile, you must work your way up the ranks of the industry in order to expand your Empire of Trains. However, competition is fierce in the age of the iron horse: you must various obstacles in your path to financial glory within the railways over two different centuries including World War or two, an unpredictable stock market, and even competing railway companies. How and if you succeed within the world of the Railroad Tycoon all depends on how you manage your resources and if you believe in your own instincts as a railroad entrepreneur.

Those unfamiliar with the original Tycoon II release or the subsequent ‘New Century’ expansion pack and Gold editions will find this game to be one of the most detailed and highly addictive simulation/strategy games every released within the genre.  The Platinum edition contains everything included in those original releases, including maps, music, single player and multiplayer scenarios, and the highly useful game editing tool (allowing you to tweak your own customized playing fields). Some of the newer material for this latest Tycoon version goes beyond even our own expectations, throwing in 50 new maps to the fold, an electronic version of the official RTII strategy guide, and even 2 full hours of original blues music. Over 125 scenarios are available to play in the single person mode, ranging from the historical building of the Transcontinental Railroad to the supplying of allied forces during the height of World War II. 60 different engines are available to run on your tracks, including the 4-8-8-4 Big Boy, the Brenner 412, as well as the French TGV.

  Beyond the addition of the newer features to RTIIP, the game runs the same as the previous Gold Edition release. The single player mode consists of sets of familiar pre-established goal oriented missions that you must complete in order to continue onto the next set of tasks. By building railway train routes and utilizing the 65 plus structures that go along with them (stations, post offices, depots, etc.), and managing your funds within the public and private financial sectors (stock markets, bond markets, shareholders, etc.), you must micromanage your assets and empire into a coherent structure that will not only last the test of time but also make you a hefty profit in order to achieve victory. The campaign mode is only slightly different, allowing you to participate in the many different goal oriented missions, this time adding the factor of historical issues and events into the mix. Watching history unfold before your eyes during the late 1800’s until the year 2000 has its merits, even if you’re not the biggest history buff in existence.

RTIIP is as extremely well developed and detailed game in comparison to other simulation/strategy titles, but it definitely not the easiest game to tackle or to even learn. The inherent difficulty and high level of micromanagement needed in order to prosper while playing RTIIP is apparent from the get go, and might cause grief to even the most seasoned of simulation/strategy gamers.  Poptop was able to rework their in-game tutorial when it released Tropico earlier this year, but didn’t seem to find the ability (or perhaps the need) to incorporate this achievement into the Tycoon re-dux. Though a tutorial is available, it does little good to the novice or longtime simulation/strategy gamer whatsoever. That fact along with the lack of an included printed manual of any sort makes the difficulty and learning curve of RTIIP the highest in the genre to date. Poptop did take note of this, apparently, and included both the Strategy Guide and manual for the game on the CD-Rom itself, allowing you to print up the necessary material if/when needed.