Without the expansion of transportation, no nation would be as prosperous as they are now. Whether the focus is on transportation of raw materials or serving the public by ensuring everyone gets to where they need to be on time. Developer Urban Games has expanded upon their previous tycoon simulation titles, Transport Fever and Train Fever, taking you through 150+ years of technology spanning the globe.
One aspect that defines the game is the lack of competition, whether from another player or an AI-controlled opponent. For this reason, there is never a sense of urgency, and instead, the experience feels light-hearted and relaxing. It is a nice change of pace compared to other games, letting you work on your creativity, instead of worrying about someone else swooping in and stealing your coffee beans. In Transport Fever 2, currency is nearly limitless, even in the campaign mode.
Unlike city simulation titles where you are building and designing entire urban landscapes, Transport Fever 2, tasks you with filling in the blanks in between cities. As the game spans across multiple centuries, technology is limited based on the selected era. As you begin the campaign, you start in the mid-nineteenth century, where railroads were revered for their ability to unite nations. Need to move citizens across a bustling town? Build multiple bus stops, and create a new line for busses to follow, linking each location. Of course, "buses" during this timeframe refer to stagecoaches, horse-drawn carriages and the steam engines.
Regardless if you are building service lines across roads, rail, sea, or air, you'll need appropriate depots to purchase and assign vehicles. Similarly, you'll place stops near resources and where you'll want to move the materials. For example, a "truck" stop stores coffee beans, when placed near a plantation. You'll then connect it to another stop placed near a city that is looking to import the goods and assign carriages to travel between the stops. All vehicles have various stats, such as cargo capacity, cost, speed, wear, and tire, etc. as well as what goods can be picked up.
While you don't have direct control over how cities develop, you indirectly influence expansion based on transportation advancements. Connecting all corners of a city, and even a neighboring location is an excellent way to boost the economy. However, as you aren't in control, issues may arise with new buildings popping up around your well oiled transporting systems complaining about emissions, excess traffic, or noise. All of your transportation lines or routes are color-coded (you can even alter the colors of vehicles), making it very easy to distinguish them from one another. Naming them comes in handy, to easily select the ones you need without clicking through a list of generic names. When problems occur, such as not having enough stops to warrant keeping a route open, you'll be alerted, taking you directly to the stop in question.
One issue that occurred during the third mission of chapter one, which seems to be an ongoing issue based on Steam discussions, revolves around setting up the first water transportation system. For one reason or another, the boats that should have been transporting whiskey from the distillery, became stuck looking for metal. Stops aren't explicitly designated for specific resources but instead are based on proximity to source locations (mines, plantations, etc.) and where the resources need to be delivered — no amount of bulldozing and reconstructing fixed this issue and forced me to restart the entire mission.
Every building that you place down can be expanded and customized in a modular fashion. Additional waiting rooms can be added to a train station, along with new waiting platforms, underground passages, and more. Upon selecting a new addition, you'll choose from possible placement locations, and it will instantly appear. While I found this element to be quite engaging, actually placing the main structures can be frustrating. Rotation is accomplished through preset intervals, often clashing with nearby roads or other buildings. Not designing the mechanic to operate smoothly using a mouse is beyond me. There is even further customization before placing structures controlling the dimensions, and things like the amount of tracks/piers. All of these results in roads and rail tracks that are a bit finicky to place appropriately.
The campaign objectives are designed in such a way that it becomes almost impossible not to complete them. Instead, the challenge comes from how efficient you became at finishing your tasks. These tasks can take longer than expected if you aren't paying attention to the desires of the populace. For example, you may be tasked with connecting two cities by rail and having twenty residents visit between the two cities. If your cities are lacking in public transportation to get to the train system, it may take dozens of trips for you to complete the challenge.
Transport Fever 2 forgoes fail conditions and instead lets players focus on the beauty and elegance of designing the perfect transportation system. The campaign, which has its own narrative for each mission, spread across three chapters (complete with voice narration). Still, it only functions as an introduction to each of the methods of transportation and the game's mechanics. The sandbox mode builds a procedurally generated map based on your selected options and lets you chose the styling of the buildings and equipment between the USA, Europe, or Asia. With Steam Workshop support, you'll find hundreds of maps, vehicles, stations, trucks, and more already implemented thanks to the engaged community.Note: Transport Fever 2 was reviewed on PC. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.