Transport Empire is a free game that runs on just about anything – iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets and even Facebook. It takes you back to the early days of steam trains, steam boats and airships, and you must build and manage cities and transport systems, and accumulate lots of money. I am playing the iPad version and it is a lot of fun.
It is a sort of cross between the old Railroad Tycoon from the 1990s and modern tycoon/city building games that are popular on phones and tablets today. You know the sort of game where you have to build an airport, city, island, holiday resort, village, and so on? It is like that, but with a twist and it is all about railroads and team trains – The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper would love it.
You start off with three steam trains and a city. You build an iron ore mine, a logging camp and a coal mine, then accept contracts to transport these resources using your trains. The resources enable you to open a stone mine, a farm and other places.
You start off with basic trains that are small, low powered, and unreliable, but as you build up resources and make money on the contracts, you can upgrade the trains to better models and buy new waggons to transport goods.
There is a resource gathering aspect to the game and you must work out what you are short of and increase production. Iron ore can be turned into steel, but for this you need a factory. Build the factory and from the steel it produces you can build other things in the city, like a bigger train station that can handle more trains, a bigger town hall that collects more taxes, a warehouse that stores more resources, and so on.
A port can be opened and steam boats travel up and down a river to riverside mines. Additional cities become available and shopping centres and residential districts can be developed. Contracts then become available to transport goods and people from city to city, or farm to city. Managers become available to manage contracts and there are mini tasks that sometimes provide rewards.
As you progress through the game your transport system improves and the cities grow. At each step of the way you are given a task to perform. To a limited extent it is possible to do things out of order and build and expand, but mostly you follow a set path. Every time you finish a task, such as fulfilling an order for wood or transporting people, you earn rewards and these enable you to level up and gain access to more game features.
Tasks like a contract to transport ore from a mine to a city initially take just a few minutes, but as you progress they take longer and longer. It is a bit like Farmville in this respect, where you plant something and then come back later to harvest the crop. In Transport Empire you accept a contract or upgrade a building and come back later to collect the rewards.
In-app-purchases enable you to buy gold and resources, and these enable you to progress through the game more quickly by instantly completing a task, transport contract or building upgrade. You can do this without buying anything though, but it takes longer.
Transport Empire is the sort of game you play for 10 minutes at a time rather than a couple of hours. You open it, start some upgrades, accept some contracts and set your trains going, then come back later to collect the rewards and set them going again.
This is an excellent game if you like tycoon-style games. The Victorian setting and focus on steam trains and business contracts is entertaining and the graphics are great.
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Published: 20 December 2014