Transport Tycoon Deluxe is what expansion packs
should be - take everything that's great about the original game, and give us more. Well, except it's not an expansion pack - that was the Mars
thing. But I digress.
For those who don't know, Transport Tycoon is a sweet little isometric 3D business management game by the great and wise Chris Sawyer, mixed with SimCity and just a dash of A-Train. Basically, you construct road, rail, air and sea transportation networks across a huge continent, delivering cargo between industries, goods to cities, and carrying passengers and mail. Starting in the middle of the 20th century, you progress through increasingly fast and powerful means of transportation, watching the cities develop. It's fantastic stuff, easily one of the best strategy games ever written (yes, even more so than Railroad Tycoon 2). Transport Tycoon Deluxe improves on that winning formula by adding a ton of new features. So, if you've settled into your seats, the train is leaving the station.
The most major improvement to the game is one way signals for railways. This allows for far more, prototypical operations of your rail network. You can now create proper 'up' and 'down' tracks, one-way belt lines and other great tricks. Suffice it to say, trains were always to best part of the game, and this makes them even more fun and useful. Designating two tracks to climb a steep grade and only one to descend it is fantastic.
The next major addition is that of the new worlds. No longer restricted to the temperate UK, you now also have a Nordic/North American arctic world, and a South American tropical world. And a rubbish toyland, but the less said about that one the better. In the arctic world, you have verdant valleys for farming and large cities, while above the snowline you have some industries and smaller towns. Supplying the snowbound towns with food is a major part of your business here, so invest wisely in powerful locomotives to haul your cargo up the mountains.
Meanwhile, the tropical area is home to both extremely dense rainforests and barren deserts. Towns in the desert need water, and again this becomes a lucrative and vital business route. Thankfully, building tracks in the desert is very cheap, which is welcome when you consider the small fortune required even for a single track rail line through the dense forests.
New for the arctic and tropical areas area selection of new railroad locomotives. Many of these, based on insanely powerful Alco and EMD American models, haul huge loads up steep hills far faster than any of the British locomotives in the temperate climate. A special curiosity comes in the form of the TurboTrain, the ill-fated Amtrak/VIA Rail experiment in turbine propulsion. It fares far better in this game, serving as your express passenger train.
Meanwhile, all regions (bar toyland) benefit from a revised future technology collection of vehicles. Monorails now come in three varieties, and these in turn are replaced by Maglevs which are impossibly fast and expensive. A third generation of road vehicles is also introduced to replace the aging 1980s models, and there are some funky new aircraft on offer.
Other nice touches - a not-so-wee list
Monorail and Maglev tracks can now be built with level crossings for roads.
Airport ground traffic is greatly improved, with multiple aircraft able to move freely around the apron, and they will now hold short at the runway waiting to take off.
You can now build one-square heliports in city centre areas, for extra income.
A 'turn around' button has been added to allow you to correct your stupid road vehicle (and train) drivers.
You can buy shares in your opponents' companies.
You can also build industries - in the tropical area especially this is fantastic, as only you can build the lucrative sawmill.
There's a vehicle type rename button, so you can finally call the Class 87 electric engine a Class 87 Electric Engine.
Aircraft and ship cargos can be configured... so you can have planes or ships hauling iron ore.
The not-so-good touches
Trains *still* clog up busy crossovers. If there are one-way signals in place, they will even ignore alternate routes.
The AI is still idiotic, and builds willy-nilly.
Industries still close their doors when you've just spent millions of dollars building a spectacularly complex branch line to serve them.
The game now starts in 1950. In the original (which started in 1930) you had a good 20 or 30 years to find your feet before you started needing to fork out for expensive diesel engines, new buses, and such. Now, you have a mere ten years, by which time your rail network will be wholly ill-suited to the long, fast runs the diesels are intended for.
Further, the game ends in 2070 (at which point it endlessly repeats 2070). Which means, barely halfway through the game (around 2004!) no more rail locomotives are designed, your existing models will decay, and replacements will either vanish off the list or come straight from the factory with 5% reliablity. And so you have the deep joy of tearing up all your tracks and replacing them with monorail tracks. Only for those to become obsolete in 20 years when maglevs come out. Grrrrrr.
All this future-o stuff isn't exactly gripping - I personally don't give a crap about monorails nearly as much as I do about saving to buy a Centennial diesel engine to haul my coal trains up that mountain pass. The new planes and road vehicles look terrible.
Helipads are rendered useless in the final stage of the game as the only helicopter model becomes obsolete and no replacement is issued.
The AI still gets no penalty for rubbish service, bulldozing entire towns or generally being annoying.
So, in conclusion, is it a good game? Well, on the whole, yes. The joys of one-way railroad signals and the new regions are untold, and with the patch from ttdpatch.net you can build giant stations, start in 1920, and do all sorts of fun things. You need never look back on the original, except with fond nostalgia.
You really want to know about the toyland area? Well, basically, imagine a tiny selection of underpowered, annoying sounding vehicles delivering batteries, candy canes and cola across the most garish, eye-angering tileset you've ever seen. Yes, it makes the Mars graphics from the original look like a blimmin' masterpiece.