For those who have not played Transportation Tycoon, and cannot figure out what it is by the title alone, it is a management game in which the player controls a transportation empire. Simutrans is an open-source version of Transportation Tycoon and effectively replicates most of the gameplay, but also leaves out quite a number of features. It is also a lot more of a sandbox-style game, rather than competitive.
Simutrans preserves the core of Transportation Tycoon. The player will be building roads, railways, powerlines, airports, shipyards, purchasing planes, ships, trains, buses, trucks, or even animal-drawn carriages. Stops and pick-up zones need to be placed, traffic control must be established, routes must be managed, the consumption of raw material and output of product by various industries must be watched over (lest your over-efficient transportation services overload the economy).
There are no tutorials in the game, a fact that may turn some players off right from the start. However, with some persistence and internet-searching, the basics could be learned with relatively ease, as they are rather, well, basic. Unlike Transportation Tycoon, there are no vehicle breakdowns, no natural disasters, no traffic accidents, etc. While this does make the game more dull to some, it does contribute to the stability and sandbox nature of the game.
Simutrans leans towards casual sandbox play, rather than competitive play. Almost every feature of the World could be customized at creation, including water level, economic modifiers, starting capital (unlike Transportation Tycoon, there is no need to take out a loan in the beginning), and even the existence of trees. There are only two AIs - one that specializes in passenger-transport and another in goods-transport - and both are turned off by default.
Due to the non-competitive nature of the game (and the lack of a super-fast-forward button), one could often establish a stable network, go do something else, and return to it to expand the network with the profits made during the player's absence. This makes Simutrans an excellent game for coffee-breaks.
As mentioned before, the game is not at all competitive. With the AI turned off, the player can take all the time in the World. Even if the player wants a challenge, it is often difficult to get one, as the AIs are not difficult. The absence of a tutorial, however, significantly raises the learning curve, especially for players with no experience in the genre, earning Simutrans a difficulty rating of 2/10.
The random generation of maps, as well as the large degree of customization possible, places Simutrans in the upper levels in terms of replayability. More importantly, however, is the fact that the game is open source. The sheer amount of player-created packs would keep any transportation fanatic occupied for a long, long time.
The only reason why the score stays at 8/10 is due to the lack of an intense-gaming mode, e.g. a fast-paced, challenging mode with all the debt, tough competition, and traffic accidents put back in. The lack of this feature limits Simutrans to casual-gaming and coffee-breaks.
The graphics of the game are by no means the greatest. While efforts by the community have been made to improve the visual appeal of Simutrans, it still looks rather dated. Of course, the casual graphics style are not an eye-sore either, and one actually gets quite used to it eventually. The low-end graphics also implies low-system-requirement. Combined with the handy windowed mode, this makes Simutrans an ideal slacking-off game.
To be honest, the music in Simutrans gets quite annoying very quickly. While one or two tunes may be slightly catchy, the quality of the music is quite low. The sound effects are minimum.
1. A thriving city. The Home Market is supplied by two competing companies, whereas the bus routes are completely monopolized by one.
2. The enormous amount of possibilities for customization
3. Zoomed way out to show the networks of two competing companies, one using primarily trains, and the other road transports. All buildings are transparent for visibility.
The download provided is for Windows. Linux and Mac versions can be found on the Simutrans website, accessible by clicking the name of the author ('SIMUTRANS COMMUNITY') near the top of this review.