Chris Sawyer’s Locomotion

Publisher:- Atari
 
Genre:- Business Strategy
 
Developer:- Chris Sawyer (Saint of Business Strategy)
 
Release date:- October 2004
 
Platform:- Win XP (Win 2k or Win ME is possible)
 
Specs:- (Laughable) Doesn’t need a new workhorse to compute
 
Current availability:- If you do know ‘good’ vendors dealing with this stuff, deal yourselves in. Alternatively, Software Boutique in SS2 still has it. Amazon gives a mediocre bargain at 10 bucks a pop. Your call. 
 
 
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For many of us who associated ourselves with Chris Sawyer’s award-winning Transport Tycoon series back in the old days of 1995, there is simple pleasure in setting up two bus stations, then a depot, and thereafter purchasing your first bus and deploy its routes. All clear, and the bus goes on its way, earning cash for you to further strenghten your transport empire.
 
But watch for your account books. I myself got many abortive companies pounded into submission and surrender for punching way above the line. Yeah sure…you’d get swiss-cheesed for being in a slumber for too long but ultimately business strategies takes time to fruition and in TT, development should be rapid but not cantankerously reckless.
 
Leave TT for another day…here’s Chris Sawyer’s so-called ‘Spiritual Successor’ to his famous TT Deluxe. Many of his admirers and die-hard fanatics pleaded no end with this Saint for a new title in the same milieu of transport building. He did oblige them after successful run-ins with his own ‘Roller Coaster Tycoon’ series, and his trademark block-building genius pervades the entire new spiritual successor.
 
It was in February 2004 that I got wind of Chris the Saint working indefatigably on his new title. Hardly satiated with TT Deluxe, it invites a great challenge to the Saint as to how his masterpieces can be ported to the new exciting platform of Win XP.
 
Right, in October 2004. Got a copy of this successor. Installation was small enough- roughly 600MB. Installed the v. 1.1 patch and got it running w/o a hitch. Sweet.
 
But illusions and eager expectations can turn ugly just as quickly as the thought can be so sweet. The striking jazz intro music that fired up TT Deluxe could be a fitting prelude to the new title, but ‘Locomotion’ started up with some inconsequential new wave music which gets on the nerves rather quickly.Not good, not good.
 
Tried a few maps available for single play. First impressions were decent. Tidied up graphics and smooth interface meant that there was at least work being done to clean up the transition from DOS gfx to the Win XP capabilities.
 
Some new changes though:-
 
1. Trams – Build a tram circuit in a densely populated city to establish regular clientele. Rapid cash ensured. And I’ve a soft spot for trams.
 
2. Bus stations.There’s no apparent need for an individual spot for a bus station/terminus. CS did away with the bus station placement over a mandatory block of land and allow platelayers to straddle a road. OK…thumbs up for this neat feature. Simple and sweet.
 
3. Vehicles maintenance. For the TT afficionados, vehicle maintenance can be a shot of morphine in the ass. Guess what? In Locomotion, you get knock-out drops in terms of servicing your vehicles cos there’s none at all. Reliability of vehicles dwindle quickly after a mere 3 years and find yourself contending with frequent breakdowns and diminished efficiency with a feeling of helplessness. If you had the capital to refurbish your fleet of vehicles, that’s great but for those who don’t it’s a slow, painful climb to the summit. I’m pretty sure the Saint has his reasons but for that reason, giving a player headaches over replacing downed vehicles is not smart. Wrong move Chris.
 
4. Underground subway stations. Helluva great feature there. Build 4 X 16 blocks of trains stations in a large city and the station will bulge. Tasty.
 
5. New industries. Nothing out of the norm.
 
6. New tools for road/rail building.
 
OK. Locomotion needed some getting used to. It’s an acquired taste…not quite in the same league as beluga caviar but somewhere in the regions of liking fish guts.
 
The music changes in accordance to the era you’re in. Ragtime by Scott Joplin pervades earlier eras while noticeable music styles vary through the ages. There are some funky jazz and blues tunes but somewhere inside I do long for TT Deluxe’s incomparable jazz jukebox. The simple yet infectious tunes of the TT Deluxe are nowhere apparent in this installment as the new tracks tried to impress needlessly. They’re decent enough but not exactly the stuff I’d wanna hear over and over again until you’d just cranked the music off altogether.
 
I can’t quite put a finger on the many reviews which declare this spiritual successor a flop or at the very least not the best from Chris Sawyer. It’s likely that by terming this new title a ‘spiritual successor’, CS was trying to evoke the same enjoyment of setting up transport routes and watch the cash coffers swell. Nothing more. This is no Transport Tycoon II and it should not be. The gameplay replayability is one of the weakest in the new era of gaming. There are hardly any options to create a new world to immerse in. Worse, the graphics and sound are dated and the game engine, though new, is not robust and does not entail premises of modding capabilities.
 
CS may have been saddened that his undiminished devotion by the fans have turned its back on his last known creation. It’s infinitely and fiendishly difficult to please anyone and more so when expectations have ballooned to unrealistic levels.I found Locomotion to be a disappointment at the initial stages. Having shed the pretensions aside, I discovered the title to be highly enjoyable and relaxing. There are googols of ways to earn money although the subsidy factor has been cast aside.
 
‘Locomotion’ could not possibly match the smothering influence of TT Deluxe before it and ultimately was defeated by its own over-hype and over-expectations. The AI, often mocked by players of TT for building ridiculous roadworks/railworks are a lot better in this new offering but humans can never see beyond the norm and expect too much. As if the human player can build flawless transport lines and expect the AI to do the same. It’s still a above average product but there’s a sneaky suspicion that more work could have been done to make this title and unqualified success like TT Deluxe.To do justice to Chris Sawyer’s work, it’s imaginably better off if these two were never associated but like most mysteries, the word ‘spiritual’ is surely haunting and more than one can ever fathom. 
 
 

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2 Responses to Chris Sawyer’s Locomotion

  1. Artur says:

    Have a look at this forum at this address: http://www.tt-forums.net You can get more mods (fan-created vehicles, buildings, visual enhancements) for this wonderful game and other improvements to spice up the gameplay. You might also consider these other sites:1) http://www.locomotion-fanpage.net/forum/index.php (German site. Registration required for downloads)2) http://www.trensim.com (Spanish site with downloads of Spanish vehicles)3) http://www.amitrains.co.uk/ (English site.)4) http://home.filternet.nl/~c.jol/locomotion/realscen.html (English site. You can acquire French trains and other Dutch scenarios here.)

  2. Artur says:

    Malaysian gamers can get it from most well-stocked computer game shops for RM29.90. The label for this re-released material is ‘Originals’ and comes from Atari. Having acquired a copy of it – there is no manual in it and the sleek plastic box only contains the game CD. Still, it’s worth a buy and you can get lots of help from forums such as the tt-forums.net.

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