Sid Meier’s Railroads Review: Classic Tycoon Game, Ported Impressively to Mobile

Sid Meier’s Railroads Review: Classic Tycoon Game, Ported Impressively to Mobile

Sid Meier's Railroads Review: Classic Tycoon Game, Ported Impressively to Mobile

Originally released in 2006, Sid Meier’s Railroads was the fourth and final installation in the Railroad Tycoon series and set high standards for the “Tycoon” genre of games. Although Sid Meier is perhaps best known for the Civilization series of empire-building simulation games, I consider the Railroad Tycoon series to be his best work, and indeed the game has a bit of a cult following among those who have grew up in the golden age. simulation games. Thanks to mobile port specialist Feral Interactive, Sid Meier’s Railroads has made its way to smartphones in a modern, touchscreen format well suited to its vastly older millennial fan base.

Tasked with building a railroad in various historical and fictional settings, Sid Meier’s Railroads was ahead of its time in the 2000s and still feels incredibly fresh and current today. I played the original on PC as a student and couldn’t wait to put my more seasoned mind to work on this classic’s brilliant economy and mechanics. With that, here’s my review of Sid Meier’s Railroads on mobile.

Keeping tabs on the economy and understanding how to move goods efficiently is key to success at Sid Meier’s Railroads

Sid Meier Railway review: Prices and supported devices

Although Sid Meier’s Railroads is still available for PC via Steam and GOG, its relevance today is due to its recent port to iOS and Android. On Android, the game is available for Rs. 399, while it will cost you per Rs. 499 on iOS. The gaming experience is largely the same on Android and iOS, although I recommend playing on a tablet or phone with a large screen, so you can easily view and read smaller details.

Compatibility within the iOS and Android ecosystems is highly dependent on your device, but most modern iPhone models and Android smartphones from various manufacturers will support the game. Feral Interactive advises that some devices cannot install the game, but if you manage to install it, you will probably have a good experience with the title. It is a 1.7 GB download on both platforms. I played Sid Meier’s Railroads on an iPad mini (5th Gen, 2019) (test) running iPadOS 16.3.

Sid Meier Railway Review: Controls

While the original game relied on a mouse and keyboard for controls, the new port for iOS and Android is made for touchscreen phones. It’s impressive how well this game lends itself to the concept of touch controls in some aspects, especially the track layouts and construction where you can point and adjust how you want the track laid down with precision. Plus, zooming in and out is much easier with pinch-to-zoom. This solves some of the biggest complaints I had with the original game.

Other aspects of the touch controls sometimes feel a bit finicky, especially when it comes to precisely selecting a particular point on the screen, like a city’s supply and demand stats, or an end track to continue construction. This was usually solved by zooming in to enlarge the touch area or get a better view, but that tended to add tedious extra steps to the process.

Sid Meiers Railroads reviews train selection

The game has an impressive selection of real-world historical engines to choose from

This all works assuming you’re playing the game on a tablet with a reasonably large screen. If you’re on a smartphone, it can get a bit tricky to read the small numbers regarding finances and available stocks of various expeditions in cities. Zooming in and out will usually make things easier, but enough is already happening in a typical game without having to add steps to the process.

Sid Meier’s Railroad review: Gameplay and performance

The basic premise of Sid Meier’s Railroads centers around building and running a railroad, but there’s a lot more to it than just building tracks and choosing engines to use on those tracks. The game is built on a complex system based on the demand and supply of various raw materials, finished goods, passengers, and mail, and the key to success is building an efficient network that gets supplies to where they’re needed.

This obviously means understanding the economy of each map and linking outlying suppliers of raw materials such as grain, coal, lumber, and ore, to cities and towns that have factories to turn them into finished goods such as furniture. , steel and processed foods. . You will earn funds by only transporting the raw materials, but the real benefits are in ensuring the finished goods also get to where the demand is.

In all of this, you can choose to heat things up by adding competing AI players, which not only require you to lay tracks around existing ones, but also distribute cargo that can be transported. I eventually found it made more sense to make shorter routes moving passengers and vouchers quickly between three or four locations, rather than longer ones. That said, sometimes you’ll have to go a long way to get the goods to the right place, especially if one of the storyline objectives calls for it.

sid meiers railway examination card

Sid Meier’s Railroads maps are based on various real-life geographic regions, as well as fictional regions.

Sid Meier’s Railroads maps are an interesting mix of realistic and exaggerated fiction. Real-world maps include various regions of the United States and Europe, based on the actual growth of railroad industries in those locations and how they contributed to the success of those economies during the height of the Industrial Revolution. It also helps you find the somewhat familiar town and city names, which makes planning and navigating a bit easier.

The fictional maps get a little confusing in this regard, due to their unfamiliar city names. However, they are generally much more difficult due to geography. You’ll find yourself laying down tracks around mountains or crossing mountain passes to save on the high cost of building bridges or tunnels. Some maps are archipelagos, which means building pathways usually involves expensive bridges over water.

All of this is backed up by the brash and often goading feedback from AI players, constantly challenging you during bidding wars, or if you dare set up a station in a city where they already have a presence. There’s also a simplified enterprise element to all of this; you own stock in your own company, but all players can buy stock in competing companies with the intention of eventually buying out the competition and then merging or liquidating the competitor’s assets. Selling stocks can help you quickly raise funds for growth and expansion, but comes with its own risks.

There are different difficulty levels in Sid Meier’s Railroads, essentially defining the costs and other economic factors that will govern your experience in the game. Alternatively, you can make the routing system easier or harder – this will affect how the trains on the same stretch of track interact with each other. Luckily there are no accidents, but trains can get stuck (sometimes indefinitely) if you have too many routes using the same stretch of track and you don’t switch to double or triple parallel tracks.


Sid Meier’s Railroads – as well as the entire Railroad Tycoon series – were ahead of their time in the early 2000s. Feral Interactive’s new port also creates a fairly enjoyable simulation scenario, which seems surprisingly relevant for a game. almost two decades old. Perhaps most impressive is how all of this is now playable on a portable device such as a smartphone or tablet.

My iPad mini (2019) not only handled the nice and busy visuals, but could also keep up with the constant processing and computation needed to keep the economic and scenario-based aspects of the game running smoothly. It’s an experience on par with many top-tier PC and console games, and feels like a steal, especially if you’re a frequent iOS or Android gamer.

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