I have just come from praising a game I thought I would hate; now I find my self loathing a game I thought I would love. Yep Transport Giant - Down Under, well it's under something if not most things.
I was really looking forward to this game, I saw the original in the shops shortly after it came out, I was going to buy it then, but I had no cash spare. Thankfully fate spared me that day. I really wanted to like this game I gave it a good shot and parts of it I thought were good but on the whole you can enjoy a game with a few flaws but not one with the amount his game has.
At first glance they look okay, but when you start to play the game and get up close you can see the tell tale marks of highly compressed graphics. Even the animation cannot save the graphics on this game. It reminded me of many of the early RTS games, which suffered from little or no animation and where the ability to distinguish buildings becomes a task.
In an age where 3D Graphics are the in thing, a game which uses 2D isometric graphics really suffers. Even Age of Empires 2 had better graphics than Transport Giant.
Well the first thing I did with this game was to kill the music; it was so annoying all I wanted was to turn it off. The ambient sounds were okay, they did nothing much to enhance the game but they were functional and served a purpose.
The repetitive nature of some of the sound effects is enough to make you want to force the space bar through your ear drum to make them stop. When running the game in x8 speed mode the sound of those horses makes you wan to become a Buddhist monk, because silence is golden.
If I said I had to restart the first level more than 12 times I would not be joking. The amazing lack of tutorial on both the original game and expansion makes the journey of self discovery seem like a simple one. Not even the manual helped, it seems you're expected to already know every thing about the game via some form of osmosis, because the developers seem to think an obvious tutorial is not needed.
After much cursing I finally managed, to work out how to put down a depot and get a road connected to it. Next was the amazing funky non intuitive system for getting goods moving from place to place. Another 2 hours wasted. Then game the turned to trains, I thought roads were hard to get to grips with but it seems Trains are a nightmare that not even Einstein could workout. Little or no explanation about how things work or how to lay things out properly meant the second mission was failed a number of times because I had to spend time actually working out how things worked.
I can withstand a few flaws in a game but this game seems to be a big collection of flaws. I now know where the developers put the flaws from the many good games they produce. Transport Giant - Down Under.
Well from what I read on the back of the box, and my experience with this game, I can only conclude that the publishers must have gotten the CD's mixed up. At least I hope that's their excuse. The game offered much of what I want from this type of simulation, however the bad implementation lack of obvious tutorial, and little or non in game feedback, leaves the play stabbing wildly in the dark until they hit something. Even a little popup telling you the reason your depots are not connected would have helped, it might have saved 3 hours of my life.
Come on JoWood you have published some excellent games and have some top notch stuff coming out but his is a game that really should never have seen the light of day. I guess some people must have persevered with the game and enjoyed it enough to warrant an expansion. Even though I drift towards this type of game I find this is a prime example of some of the worst aspects of the simulation genre.
From what I can see the Down Under add-on offers nothing new to the game other than some new missions and extra graphics.
I'm sure somewhere under the hood of Transport Giant and the expansion Down Under, there is a classic game waiting to get out. But so many flaws and problems with the implementation and game play will put most players off.