There are many different games on the market that give you some kind of mamnagement responsibility. From classics such as Transport Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon, To the top selling Sims series. These games have a very good audience though the market can seem a little crowded at times Jowood Productions have given us another game to try and that is Transport Giant.
One thing I will make clear from the very start. This game brings us nothing new. 99.9% of what's on offer in this game can be found elsewhere. There is absolutely nothing new or innovative. The important thing is that the game has taken well established gameplay 'rules' and recreated it. It almost like choosing the best bits of a lot of the other games in this genre and combining it to one, that doesn;t mean that the game is without its faults, but we will discuss that later on.
In Transport Giant you are in control of a transport empire. In addition to the expected 'endless' game mode there are a series of missions broken in to two catergories, USA and Europe. With USA being normal difficulty and Europe being more of a challenge. Also, within each catergory you can set the mision difficulty. This is quite good as it allows you to ease into the game, but also gives you the option of trying a real challenge. Missions start of with what appear to be quite simple objectives. For example the first mission in the USA requires you to deliver wooden planks to forts. In order to do this you must deliver logs from lumberjacks, to the sawmill, then the finished planks to the forts. To do this effectively you must improve upon the existing road network, so that you can exploit further lumbverjacks that are tucked away deeper into the games levels. In addition to this youmust then ensure that you aren't pushing too much traffic through a single area, otherwise you will create traffic jams that will cripple your supply network. The game starts in the 1850's so you are limited to vehicles drawn by animals, as the levels progress you will be given access to more vehicles, all the way up to modern vehicles such as helecopters, monorails and superconductor trains. The game play may seem a little simple at first, but as you move on to later missions you will find that the game becomes ever more complicated and strategic. For example, mission two requires that you link all the main cities on the map via a rail network. Now railways don't come cheap and so you will have to build up a system to make money, with the games various industries money can be made by transporting and processing all kinds of materials. Fortunately, all of the map is visible from the off, there is no exploring that needs to be done, just the startegic planning behind your empire. All of the gameplay aspects meld together very well. The biggest frustration for me was the lack of a tutorial. All games of this genre have their own little quirks and foibles. This game is no exeption. This means that you are constantly referring to the games manual for how to get past a situation. For example, on my first try I couldn't link my stations to the roads, on my second and third try I couldn't get my vehicles to deliver goods. This was really, really annoying and nearly made me want to throw the game in a box and never touch it again. Eventually, I worked out the basics of the game and enjoyed myself. The lack of tutorial seems like a bizzare ommission, surely it isn't that difficult to program in a simple tutorial. Another fault with the game is the vehicles AI. This hasn't received enough attention from the developers. Vehicles at crossroads or T-Junctions will act in a very odd manner indeed. The vehicles try to take it in turns which is a nice idea, but can lead to some vehicles being left at junctions for no apparent reason other than the vehicle that is way off in the distance. This can be especially frustrating when that Vehicle is holding up a cue of traffic and your mission deadline is drawing near.
Graphically the game can be a touch weak. The game is isometric, with some fairly mediocre detail and variety. It would have been nice to have seen some more adventurous effects used rather than simple graphics that would have been seen in games 4 years ago. Having said that the graphics do their job. I noticed the game did do a few odd things, such as freezing slightly when scrolling the screen. The game states the minimum requirement is a 500mhz processor with 64mb or ram, my machine is a 2.8 Barton running 512mb ram, so I wouldn't have expected any kind of graphical hitches.
The games sound can also be a bit bland. The background music can get quite frustrating and vehicle noises haven't received the greatest amout of attention. Many other games in this genre are superior in terms of sound.
There is very little more that can be said about the game really, it is a very simple concept that comes together quite well. The game won't appeal to the mass market, any many mainstream gamers will be put off by the game. I did find myself wanting to play this game more and more. It is quite good at drawing you in. It's the kind of game that you will keep in your collection and picking up every few months to have a days gaming. The games biggest fault is the lack of the turtorial which leads to a remarkably steep initial learning curve, and the annoying AI can often causing frustration. The missions offer a nice structured approach to the game whereas the open ended game will keep you coming back for more.