Good simulation games have been a passion of mine since a young age. The past decade has shown a resurgence in excellent titles representing a wide array of simulation titles, and Transport Fever 2 is out to combine two of my favorite sim types: transportation and city building. Urban Games and Good Shepherd Entertainment are turning the sequel to Transport Fever into much more than just a train building simulation.
From Trains to Automobiles to Planes
While trains are certainly at the forefront of Transport Fever 2, particularly in its three story-based campaign chapters, you’ll be managing far more than a range of steam, diesel, and electric engines on your quest to master the complexities of modern transportation. The story mode takes place across three chapters and ranges from the 1850s to today’s time. Throughout it, you’ll learn the basics of connecting cities via rail tracks, purchasing engines and cars, and designing lines to transport a variety of cargo and passengers.
The story mode comes with several missions, all of which are accompanied by voiced instructions, that unfortunately far too frequently left me feeling stuck. I’ve concluded that this was partly my fault, but also partly the failure of some slightly misleading and, at times, inaccurate tutorial descriptions. After eventually getting the hang of exactly how the loop of building stations, connecting them via tracks, purchasing vehicles, and setting them on their way worked, it all became rather natural.
Keeping track of even the smallest number of lines did feel like an exercise in patience at times, but fortunately, Transport Fever 2 is rather pretty to look at. Things get extremely busy when you’ve built not only train connections but also shipping lanes, mass transit within your cities, and even air routes. You’ll be spending a lot of time in Transport Fever 2’s various menus, which are conveniently movable and pinnable to allow you to keep your focus on what’s most important. Three different speed settings allow you to control just how quickly you’re progressing, and the various overlays and analysis tools are easy to understand and surprisingly helpful. Often you’ll find out why a particular line isn’t profitable by having a closer look at its cargo, its destinations, as well as the supply and demand along its route.
Attention to Detail
It is these particular details of Transport Fever 2 that ultimately influence your success or failure. I found the story missions to be extremely forgiving on the financial side of things, never once running into fiscal peril no matter how careless or poorly operated my transport empire was. This leniency did allow me to spend more time trying to optimize and learn how various factors affect each other, which would come in extremely helpful later on. Transport Fever 2 does demand a fair bit of your attention to bestow a feeling of success. There are so many details to consider that it will no doubt appeal to those gamers that enjoy a lot of micromanaging. I’m not negatively using that term in this context. Part of what makes Urban Games’ sequel so compelling is that it lets you scratch that particular itch.
Transport Fever 2’s UI and visual style are reminiscent of recent Sim City entries, and its dynamic camera is both beautiful and functional. Whether you prefer to zoom out to a bird’s eye view to keep an eye on the overall operations, or you zoom in to the very engine of your train, it can be a calming and enjoyable experience. The camera can be freely positioned or pinned onto any individual vehicle in your fleet. The sound design is well done, and the variety of sound effects distinct to each type of locomotive, ship, airplane, or wagon, keeps things interesting.
Free Play Over Stories
The story missions are absolutely the best place to start with Transport Fever 2, even with their wonky instructions at times. Veteran transportation moguls will likely dive right into the game’s free mode, which is where you can let your creativity fly and test your skills. Full Steam Workshop support is included, which should lead to a lot of addons by a community that adds to the longevity of what you can experience. A built-in map editor will also allow you to create your own missions and worlds that can then be shared with your friends or used to challenge other enthusiasts.
I found Transport Fever 2 to fill a welcome void in the building and transportation sim niche that allowed me to spend many hours being strangely relaxed while managing an ever-growing network of logistical nightmares. If you’re familiar with the series, you’ll enjoy the over 200 highly detailed models of your favorite toys, while newcomers will require a bit more patience to make it through the tutorial. Once on the other side, however, there’s a lot of depth and enjoyment to be found in Transport Fever 2.