Sid Meier’s Railroads! has issues with Windows 7 and get the original Railroad Tycoon for free

I love games.  I especially love simulation type games like Sim City, Rollercoaster Tycoon and Railroad Tycoon 2.  Recently, I rediscovered my love of Railroad Tycoon 2.  It is the first game that I reloaded on my recently rebuilt HP DV6253 laptop.  I also dug out my Railroad Tycoon 3 game and installed it on my primary computer.  It’s a good game but I prefer #2 more.  Over the last few days, however, I discovered another game in the same genre that I really like:  Sid Meier’s Railroads!.  I joined Steam a couple of years ago due to a promotion they had with ATI.  I let it sit for a long time before trying it again.  Over the last couple of months, I have purchased a few games from the Star Wars genre (first person flight games, mostly.)  Every time I looked through the cheap games or at the bundles, I’d see these railroad games.  Then I saw Sid Meier’s Railroads game.  I remember trying out the demo a few years ago but it was sluggish on the machine I had at the time.  I thought it would run better on my current machine so I bought it.

Steam is an interesting delivery mechanism and, apparently, keeps all of my purchases as part of my ‘account’ because the games I had gotten years ago were still there.  I was able to re-download them and enjoy them again, so kudos to them for that.

BUT…Railroads is a buggy game that is not entirely compatible with Windows Vista and Windows 7.  Nowhere does it say this and Steam does not believe in refunds.  Perusing the forums, I found I was not alone in this.  Unfortunately, there is no patch to fix the problem and none planned from 2KGames.  There is an unofficial patch, but it involves a hacked exe file and I’m just not into that.  A few users posted some things they do to help the problem, but does not fix it.  Running the game windowed seems to help quite a bit but the problem will come up.  For me, the game is so addictive that I can get past the occasional game crash.  I save my progress frequently.

By the way, one way to help cut down the crash issue is to not lay lots of track at one time and to right click the mouse immediately after building a station.  Those two things help quite a bit.

Anyway, my problem with Steam here is that they did not post anything about the compatibility issue.  Since XP is, thankfully, a dead operating system and most people will have Vista or Windows 7, Steam is doing a disservice by not at least warning us about these issues.  And, by the way, this is the first ‘modern’ game I’ve encountered that has a real issue with Windows 7.  It’s, apparently, a memory management issue too.

FREE GAME ALERT!

While looking at the web site for Railroads!, I noticed that they are offering the original Railroad Tycoon as freebie.  Go here and you’ll find the link along the bottom set of boxes.  Because the original game was a DOS game, 2KGames has included DOSBox so the game can play under a modern operating system.  One other thing to note: the game utilized what was called a ‘manual’ based copy protection scheme.  You had to have the game manual handy so you could answer questions that would allow you to play the game.  2KGames included a PDF copy of the original game manual so you can answer the questions and play the game.  Good stuff.

Railroads! is great game and a logical evolution of Railroad Tycoon.  The graphics are very nice but, when cranked up, are resource heavy.  There is a good assortment of scenarios to play as well as a sandbox mode (called ‘train table’) that removes the business management aspect of the game and lets you just build up your railroad. 

I hope there are more of these types of games to come.  The video game console market is now larger than the PC game market so that means fewer PC games will be coming out.  Sadly, the trend seems to be of the shoot them up genre (like those world war games, God of War, Halo, etc.) and away from the simulation games.  That is unfortunate as these games provide hours of enjoyment and make you think far more than any of the bloody shoot em ups would.  I’d rather build a railroad than blow one up.

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