Where now for the humble 'tycoon'? You should take the rejection of that catch-all postscript as a hint: this ain't your usual management game. This is not Railroad Tycoon 4, or another templated 'insert industry here' Tycoon. It's an attempt by industry legend Sid Meier and his team at Firaxis to reclaim management games from the distraction and detail that have come to dog the genre. This is about returning to the roots of what makes organising, building and succeeding so engaging. They're returning to the 'fun'-damentals.
As a newly minted investor you're given a small budget and permission to link towns with your own gauge of tracks and stock. Cities, dotted all over the map, produce and require goods for their industries. By providing the transport and heavy lifting, you allow industry to take off. Soon, this beautiful landscape of fields, forests, rolling hills and livestock will have been replaced by the smoke and fire of heavy industry. Sod the daisies - we've got coal to shift.
All this takes place on a game board that looks oddly similar to the model railway you always dreamt of owning. That's deliberate. "We think trains are cool. Maybe they're not cool, all edgy and scary, in the sense that pirates are, or the latest FPS might be, but most people have some form of warm spot for trains. Maybe at some point in their life their uncle had a train set, or maybe they got some trains for Christmas, and made a circle around the tree. That's what we're trying to tap into."
For Meier, that sense of steady progress and ownership of creation is what he and his team specialise in. "We seem to like making games about building something, be it an entire civilisation, or a functioning railroad. Pirates! (his last game) is similar in that way: you start as a lowly nobody and become a great pirate. In Civ, you begin with a little city, and finish with an empire. In Railroads!, you start with a single train, but you'll end up owning a massive business empire."
Laying down tracks is simple: just drag out your route from point A to destination E. The game will fill in siding B, bridge C, and tunnel D, leaving you to fiddle with picking your rolling stock and attaching carriages.
A gentlemans simulation of coal-burping, steam-belching engine craft.