Transport Giant: Getting Acquainted
By Alfred Barten
A 4-6-0 Camelback steamer heads my first passenger train, c.1901.
The first thing about Transport Giant that caught my attention was the graphics. For a strategy-type game along the lines of Railroad Tycoon, Transport Tycoon, and Locomotion, these graphics are superb. What’s also nice is that you can zoom in closer than you can with other games. What you can’t do – and it’s unfortunate – is follow a train in the main window or in a separate window. To follow, you have to use the cursor keys. If you have a busy terminal, however, you could find the stationery view just fine. Another thing I really like is the ability to build trains with up to 64 wagons. This is extremely long for a strategy sim.
This is my first look at TG, so I make no claims as to the completeness of my review, but I have jotted down some of my observations relative to other strategy train sims. I’ve also included a section on building your first train route. This should save you some hit-or-miss frustration, especially if are familiar with the other sims and are accustomed to doing things in a certain way. Each sim has its own special way of doing things, and TG is no exception. The 50-page illustrated manual that accompanies TG contains all you will need to know to get started, but the English version gives evidence of its Austrian roots.
- Everything is laid out in rectangular fashion, similar to other games of this type, but the grid lines are not visible (nice!)
- The viewpoint is at an angle and 45 degrees to the grid. This is the familiar “God” viewpoint. The view cannot be rotated, but it can be zoomed in quite close. During construction it would be helpful to be able to zoom out further. Instead, you have to use the accompanying overview map (which can be toggled On/Off and changed in size) to explore the territory.
- Since everything holds to the rectangular grid, curved sections of track are a full 90 degrees
- Nice, large radius curves are available, but trains don't run nicely around them. Each loco and wagon is pivoted about its center, with the result that rather than snaking around a curve, each turns in steps and loses connection with its neighbors as it rounds the curve. Since trains can only run along the rectangular grid – not across it – you will find most of your running is straight line, so the inelegant way trains handle curves is not that big a problem.
- The control panels along the left edge and bottom of the screen appear to be fixed and unmovable – not a real problem
- There’s a variety of screen resolutions available, including widescreen
- A free map editor is available at the TG web site. This will let you create your own maps, which you can share with others. Some third-party creations are available at the TG web site
- There’s a lot of ambient activity going on, including horses roaming the countryside and birds in the air. The animation of these creatures is very fine. This is a nice touch
- There’s also human activity going on in the form of people on bicycles and motorcycles. Depending on the era you choose, you may see a lot of horse and buggies, also. This is another nice touch.
- The scenery is beautiful, though the map I tried, Buffalo, had no hills or valleys. It did have rock ledge outcroppings here and there. I have my doubts about palm trees in Buffalo, a place known as the snow capital of the Northeast USA. Still, the scenery looks nice.
- There doesn’t seem to be much seasonal change other than some trees turning rusty in the fall
- Sandbox mode is nice for getting started; also nice for building and watching trains or other vehicles
- Vehicles are from Europe and USA. I especially like the selection of American steamers; I don't know of any third-party rolling stock add-ons available.
- You can vary the game speed
- There appears to be a greater variety of industries and cargoes than with most games of this type. Fortunately, it’s easy to determine what cargo goes with what loco/wagon.
- Laying track is fast and easy, especially straight track, which can be put down in any length at one time. Things can be undone until you confirm their placement. This saves unnecessary bulldozer work (and expense).
- Game play can be endless, i.e., no time limit; technological improvements are available for 1850 through 2050
- There is no signaling involved, so trains approaching each other on the same track pass through each other, as they do in Railroad Tycoon
- You can create LONG trains – up to 64 wagons. This in itself could be a major selling point with some users.
Building Your First Train Route
Building a train route and getting a train running is quite easy, but
it may take a few tries while you learn from your mistakes. I’ve
outlined the procedure below to give you an idea of what’s involved
and to speed you along your way.
There are four essential steps: Select Game Parameters, Build a Route, Buy Vehicles, and Create a Schedule
Select Game Parameters
Build a Route
- Launch game (the first CD must be in the CD drive)
- Select New endless game
- Select region (e.g., USA), click Confirm
- Select endless map (e.g., Buffalo), click Confirm
- Select starting year (e.g., 1900), click Confirm
- Select level of difficulty (e.g., Sandbox), click Confirm
- Select level of competition (e.g., No competition), click Confirm
- Explore landscape (use the overview map in large size to get around – this option is accessible via the icon in the bottom left)
- Select Build icon and select the Train icon from the submenu
- Select Train icon from the horizontal menu
- Place first station (note green catchment area); click Confirm
Placing first station. Note green catchment area. Use spacebar to rotate station as needed.
- Lay track (click and drag for straight sections); click Confirm
- Place second station; click Confirm
- Place a water tower for steam locos; click Confirm
Place water tower between stations, not beyond the last station.
Tips. 1. When placing stations, plan for expansion. The easiest way to do this is place the station parallel to one side of the city and make sure there are no obvious roads with potential for future buildings to block your future track. I assume the route will be expanded by continuing the track through the station and off to the next city. Try also to include as much useful area in your catchment. This is what provides you with traffic for your train.
2. When placing a water tower, do not place it beyond your last station. The train will never reach the tower.
- Select Depot icon
- Select a Train
- Select locomotive (wagon come later), click right arrow
Select loco on left, then click -> arrow.
Create a Schedule
- Select vehicle, click left arrow
- Select starting station, select cargo, click left arrow
- Repeat previous step for each wagon
- Click Confirm
Completed schedule ready to be confirmed.
Watch ‘Em Roll
Completing return trip to Buffalo Center.
Pentium 3-500, 64 MB RAM, 32 MB 3D graphics card, CD-ROM, mouse, DirectX 8.1, Win98/Me/2000/XP
Pentium 3-800 (or better), 256 MB RAM, 64 MB 3D graphics card, CD-ROM, mouse, DirectX-compatible sound card, DirectX 8.1 (or higher), Win98/Me/XP.
Visit the TG web site at http://www.transportgiant.com
A free demo is available as well a German-speaking forum, a newsletter, and route maps created by members of the community.
I haven’t seen Transport Giant here in the US in lately. I bought mine via eBay from a dealer in the UK.
Be sure to get the free patch (1.30) at http://www.transportgiant.com
You can also download the free map editor there; and you may want to investigate the Australian add-on pack.
On the whole, I think any serious train simmer would want to add Transport Giant to their collection. The high points for me are the graphics, long trains, ease of use, and sandbox/endless games. I would like to be able to follow the trains automatically rather than manually, and would like to see the trains snake around the generous curves rather turn in steps, car-by-car. I’m just getting acquainted with TG and am looking forward to exploring it in greater depth.
Article an screen shots (C)2006 Alfred Barten. All rights