Locomotion Review


Choo-Choo!

Chris Sawyer’s Locomotion from Atari puts a heavy transportation spin on the traditional Sim-City game mold.

Start with the three tutorials that take you through the basics of building your transportation empire. In an interesting twist, you can first watch the tutorial run itself, and then take control at any time. It is a good idea to let the tutorial run its course, and then give it a try yourself.

The tutorials will help you through road building, land development, and establishing your transportation routes. This last piece is a bit more complex than it may first seem. Considerations go beyond simply buying a bus, and include station placement and even road design (a windy road will slow your buses down, and reduce the fares collected over the business day!).

Once you have a comfortable feel for the basic controls, dive right in and play one of the 40 single-player scenarios, which vary in difficulty from beginner to expert. The scenarios will challenge you to accomplish various transportation goals. Some of the more basic tasks include setting up bus lines or transport lines to get raw materials to your industries.

Following the Sim-City mold further, everything has its price, and watch out for those news bulletins! Building of roads and rail lines has a cost, and vehicles and ships require a capital investment. Don’t get yourself in trouble by running out of finds before you develop sufficient revenue. Unless you are under serious competitive pressure, try to finish off projects one at a time. You need to have set up proper terminus points for your lines in order for them to run effectively, and generate that much needed cash for you. Speaking of competitive pressures, this is a market economy, and you don’t have a monopoly on transportation. You will have other bus and rail barons hotly contesting you for your hard earned revenue. Keep a tab on other companies in the status display. News bulletins keep you posted on “world” events, as well as happenings in industry and with your competitors. If something makes the news, it is probably worth paying attention to. Watch the news to look for new revenue generating opportunities, as well as warning signs to pay attention to an aspect of your business that may be primed for a fall. Once you have mastered the one player world, move on to real human competition in the two-player mode via a LAN or the Internet.

Once you lay out the infrastructure for transportation, you need to get the wheels of commerce rolling with vehicles. Choose your buses, trains, ships, and planes carefully. Each comes with its own price tag, but you need to consider the long-term ramifications of your purchases. Capacity, reliability, and specialty are all important. You will need to be able to transport enough of what you are trying to transport to meet demand, and your vehicles need to be in service and not in the shop. Plus, having the world’s greatest bus lines are no good when your city is lacking rail transportation for coal. Use the status windows to check in on the upkeep, revenues, and routes of your vehicles, and see if you can make small changes to rake in bigger bucks.