Train Fever, tries to be Transport Tycoon.

Train Fever is a Transport Tycoon clone, a good old fashioned economic tycoon simulator. Good, as it’s always nice to see these kind of games, they are getting fairly rare these days. Old, because the core economic game, is utterly imcomprehensible to any human form of thought.

I’m not kidding, oh on the surface, this game is fairly straightforward, buy trucks, trams, busses and (theoretically) trains, transport crap from A to B to C etc… Build roads, railroads, busstops, trainstations, bridges ad all that which is best in life.

Sounds fairly straightforward, eh? Well it isn’t, it really, really isn’t.

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In Transport Tycoon, all stations have a chatchment area, in which they’ll pick up cargo and passengers, of there are any around, and if any lines are able to tranport them. If there aren’t any of those two, nothing happens.

In Train Fever, stations present an opertunity for passengers/cargo to get to their destination, and they will base their go/no go decision on travel time. How do you predict travel time? You can’t, you really can’t, not unless you’re some deranged purestrain hyper-sperging autism machine, who will joyfully calculated the time, based on virtual feedback, experimentation and the very quantum uncertaincy of the goddamn universe. Seriously, you’d have to be utterly mental to figure it out, no sane human being could ever do so.

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So making money can be incredibly obtuse, for passengers, not for cargo, oh no, cargo is a piece of cake. It’ll simply take the fastest route to the nearest reciving destination, and it’ll either trickle towards the avaliable destinations (Steel Mills, Saw mills and refineries) or take your MUCH faster trucks, so that’s not really an issue. However, the generic goods that the factories vomit forth? Now that one’s nice and obtuse as hell. The maximum amount of generic goods factories can produce, and thus also the amount of unprocessed goods they’ll recieve, is determined by the amount of goods the nearby cities will recieve, meaning that the optimal solution for industrial profit, is a processing site, surrounded by three or more cities, all who’ll recieve plenty of goods, now that’ll generate a solid profit.

So, that’s Truck Fever for you, plenty of fun with trucks.

As for busses and trams? Utterly unpredicatable and not even remotely straightforward, due to the travel time issue, sometimes they’ll trickle in some form of profit, but their use is almost entirely used for feeding train stations. As it should be, very realistic.

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And here we arrive, at the elephant in the room, the terror, the dread, the trains.

And they are ever so fucked, not intially of couse, in the early start of 1850, people don’t really have cars, so you’re trains? They are the only real choice, no way in hell are anyone going InterCity without your gleaming trains. And this state of joy last to somewhere around 1950, when the car arrive, as in the real world. And I guess I now know how the railroad tycoons of the era must have felt when Fords fucking Model T came along and ruined everything.

The early days are the good days, cheap trains, cheap to run, no other choice, plenty of money.

And here’s the best part, unless you somehow manage to REALLY slash the travel times, people will just take their goddamn fucking cars, like a bunch of Americans, the only remote success I had with trains, where dirt cheap railbuses, and a shitton of them, but even that, doesn’t really cut in the long run. Even tried an EXTREME long distance route straight across the map, still no success.

It becomes virtually impossible to make any money from trains, after the cars fuck everything up, cargo’s doing just fine, as they don’t spawn cars at any time, but trains? Nope, ain’t gonna happen.

Unless the devs tweak the amount of passengers, or the ticket fees or the maintainence costs of the damn trains, it’ll remain incredibly hard to actually make any money of trains after 1950, which is kinda bad, with a name like Train Fever.

Graphically, it looks okay, not terrible well optimized.

If the economy was a lot less obtuse and better balanced, this game would be recommendable, unfortunately, it isn’t recommnedable at all at present.

Omerta – City of Gangsters deserves concrete shoes

Omerta – City of Gangsters deserves concrete shoes

Omerta – City of Gangsters is a turn based tactical strategy game, blended into a crime simulator, set in prohibition era Atlantic City. Or is it? It isn’t. It’s a shallow crime building simulator, where combat encounters are done via turn based tactical action, similar to XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Or is it? It kinda isn’t. It’s actually a shallow crime building simulator, with a nor terrible impressive turn based combat encounter system bolted to it, and the similarity to XCOM is strictly theoretical.

It’s the latest game from Haemimont Games, known for their remastering of the Tropico franchise, and horribly overpriced German publisher Kalypso Media, known for their outdated habit of demanding preposterous sums for shallow games, small DLC and similar such villanous deeds. Like demanding 30€ and more for this wreck of a game. For fucks sake guys, i loved Tropico 4, stop doing this shit, Dungeons was a pile of useless waste too.

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Now that I’ve mentioned Tropico 4, I can mention it some more! Wait, just kidding, you’re not getting the pleasure of me talking about a good game, I was going to mention who they’re using the same damned engine, thus cutting costs even further, hell, it even reuses several bits and pieces of Tropico’s art assets, even a couple of voice actors get paid again. Should mention that they voice actors are actually very good, and have, duty done.

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Crime Simulators doesn’t pay.

Omerta – City of Gangsters is simple, and due to it’s simplicity, it’s easy as hell to play. The simulation have a theme of duality. Illegal (dirty) and legal (clean) cash, liked and feared ratings, joints and premises. The dirty cash is used for the setup of illegal activities, the clean for construction sites and little else. Liked ratings improve some activities, mostly gambling, and feared makes shit cheaper and pawn shops better. Not that you would ever build more than one speakeasy, boxing ring and similar, seeing as diminishing returns makes yet another ugly appearance here.

The gameplay is nice and simple, you rent joints and premises, and make your money using a limited range of illegal and semi-legal activities, some are logical, like speakeasies and nightclubs needing supplies of beer from breweries and liquor from disteleries, in order to rake in the dough. Other? Less so. Like the pizzaria that makes people fear you? I really don’t recall the part of the Godfather where Don Corleone spread fear through a fucking pizza hut.

Throughout most of the empire-building parts of the game, your opposition is pre-programmed and lacking, little if any AI will present you with any opposition, and the lack of any sort of logically located speed-up function can and will make the game hideous and slow.

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XCOM is weeping for it’s lesser cousin, for it has lost its way.

The turn based combat, oh dear merciful Eris, daughter of Chaos, preserve us all, it’s not very good. I’ll make a presumption, and presume that you have all played the new XCOM:Enemy Unknown, which I know declare the benchmark of turn-based squad gameplay.

Omerta’s connection to the shinning beacon of XCOM, is technical at best, in XCOM, cover was basically everywhere you could see, a tree was cover, a car, a wall. In Omerta? Only where the programmers have determined it to be, can you find cover, so where it’s instinctual in XCOM, it becomes illogically flawed in Omerta.

The complete lack of any serious customization beyond slightly better guns makes the game even shallower. There’s no armour, so when the game ramps up the difficulty, oh boy, does shit ever die. It becomes a matter of luck if you can even manage to drag all your gangsters through a combat mission.

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Should I play this?

No. You really shouldn’t, perhaps with an expansion pack it might become more interesting, and if Steam comes around with a giant sale, you could pick it up, if you are so desperate for a Gangster empire builder.

If you chose to ignore me, you can find it on Steam and on GOG.com.

However, if you want a tough-as-nails crime simulator? I suggest Gangsters: Organized Crime. With the warning, that I suck at it.

I give it 36/100.

City Builders and you: Children of the Nile

Welcome to a brand new bunch of useless reviews no one will ever read, because you’re all to busy masturbating to a disorganised list of Warhammer 40k quotes.

This series is all about the particular Video Game genre called “City Builders“, a largely Niche genre, which mainly aims towards hilariously nerdy people, me included. It can be seperated into two main sub genres: Ancient City Builders, based on anything from ancient Egypt to Medieval Castles, and Modern City Builders, who are basically just SimCity and it’s successors, also the entire Modern City Builder sub genre died out with Simcity 4, SimCity Societies sucks awfully and Monte Cristo can’t make games.

Now, today’s game is Children of the Nile by Tilted Mill Entertainment, oddly enough the same damn company who made the absolutely awful Simcity Societies. However, they are also the successor company of Impression Games, one of the grand old City-builder developers, the only other members of that rare club is classical Maxis, back when they where still developing shit other that the Sims, and good old Bullfrog.

Children of the Nile is set entirely in Ancient Egypt, with it’s expansion pack Alexandria, covering the rise of Greek Egypt, during the conquests of Alexandria. And remarkably enough, it actually has plenty of unique selling points for the budding little simulation nerd to enjoy.

The graphics are quite good, for a game developed by a small independent company, and is actually fairly enjoyable to watch and observe, which is important for me, I personally enjoy watching all those little people, running around, pretending to matter.

It’s single largest selling point is the way the economy works in the game, unlike most Ancient City Builders, the players involvement in the city’s economy is actually slightly limited.

In most of those games, you have a currency, say gold, you use it to build absolutely everything, but not in this game, this is ancient Egypt after all. it was all barter economy back then, gold and silver was used exclusively to make jewellery and bribes to foreigners.

So the parts of the economy the player actually controls are based on two things, bricks, used to build most of the mid to high-tier buildings, like bakeries (Produces food for government employees) to gigantic Cult temples. And the the big dog, food.

That’s right, the most important “currency” in Children of the Nile is simply food, as King, you take a share of most of the food produced from the farmers of your city. Your own palace will, throughout the game, support from six to ten farmers, who will then deposit a lions share of the food into the city granaries, that food is used by brick makers, bricklayers, government labourers, soldiers and of course: Priests, scribes, commanders and Overseers.

There is also a large private economy, which, if done properly, is larger than the Government funded one, all farmers build their houses out whatever they can find, you simply decided how many there should be, the answer to that one is, by the way, as many as you can, and a few extra just in case.

Now, your Palace can only support, what, six farmers in the beginning, that’s not really enough to get a nice big city now is it? Of course not, fortunately enough, Egypt is a feudal society, and you can build nice big estates for Nobles, who then support even most farmers, and you get a chunk of the food produced, as taxes. Which you then mainly spend on various support structures for the city itself, ie. temples, hospitals and schools, manned by the most important educated Government employee, the Priest.

So, what does the nobles, farmers, servants, government employees and the Royal family itself, spend most of their food on? Why mats, linen, pottery, baskets and in the case of the nobles and educated, six different kinds of luxuries. In most City builders in the Ancient world, it’s up to the player and the government to set up production chains, pay wages and so on and so forth.

Not here, Common shop-owners and luxury show-owners handle everything themselves. The inhabitants of the city use their food to buy stuff from the shops as they need it, the show-keepers then travel around and gather the materials themselves, often sending out their kids to do it, and produce it themselves. They are completely outside of Government control, they only thing you as player do, is control where they build their small shops.

It’s oddly realistic, especially when you remember that most societies back then where utterly dependent on a successful and good harvest.

So now you have a lovely little city, plenty of food to go around, your scribes out collecting taxes from the fields, you priests handling the gods and the people’s health and education, your commanders commanding what military you may or may not need and your Overseers handling, oh yes, what are they doing, why they are answering a questions you would presently be thinink about.

“That’s all good, but what’s the point of all this?”. You blood moron, it’s fucking Egypt, what the hell do you think the point is? To build some damn Pyramids!

Your Overseers handle the labourers dragging the necessary stones to the sites of the pyramids, the raw obelisks and statues to those sites and temples. They can also be used for mining and quarrying when needed.

And what are the pyramids and brick tombs used for? Well, first of all, to contain your dead Pharaoh, members of the Royal family and in the case of the really small brick Mastaba, the nobles and Educated people of the city.

And guess what, they also produce Prestige, which is the “currency” that decided how many Educated governement employees you can have in total, thus really enforcing a limit to how large your city can grow. You need more priests to handle all those temples and hospitals after all.

These is also a little world map thing, which is similar to what Impression Games old products had, you set up trade routes, send out your army to murder everything that looks at you funny, complete little tasks. All to gain more prestige, resources and cool luxury bollocks to keep your nobles happy. Those dilletants even need entertainers, private economy again, and servants just to be happy. Although the servants are also used by the luxury shopkeepers to gather resources, they can afford it anyway.

Oddly enough, your shopkeepers and entertainers usual end up being filty rich, simply because they really don’t have that much to spend the money on. They don’t buy all the luxuries the nobles and educated citizens can spend their income/wages on, so it simply builds up.

Meaning that in the later game, most of your nobles are former Luxury shopkeepers and so on. It actually works fairly well, there are little annoyances, but nothing serious.

So yeah, if you enjoy these kind of city builder games, I’d happily recommend Children of the Nile, Tilted Mill apparently really do care about this little game.

Oh yeah, the military part isn’t very strong, but they rarely are, so who cares?

I would’ve have ripped Hinterland a new arsehole for being a shallow city builder with a shallow RPG smashed into it, but apparently they are releasing another freaking expansion for it, so hey, I’ll wait.