Transport Fever 2 Console Edition Review – Choo-Choo And Chill

Transport Fever 2 Console Edition Review

When I was young, every kid had a train set. Granted, I am very old and this was long before digital simulations appeared. Even now, decades later, there’s something deeply satisfying about building a virtual railway and watching the trains cross the countryside. Transport Fever 2 Console Edition takes the venerable train simulator and adds other modes of transportation like buses, trucks, aircraft, and ships. The game appeared on PC in 2019 and now it has made its way to consoles. Does the engine hum or do the gears grind?

Into the Deep End

Like many simulations, Transport Fever 2 is part deep dive into the business of running a transportation empire, and part builder. The overarching goal and gameplay loop is supplying goods by building an intricate web of routes. The better and more efficient you are, the more money you make. That sounds basic enough, but in practice it’s incredibly challenging.

Moving goods from point A to B is a puzzle with many solutions. Do you connect a factory to a warehouse with trucks or a dedicated rail line? Once goods are at the warehouse, do you distribute them to other cities by rail, highway, or cargo planes? Every decision generates another economic choice, geographical challenge, or system to attend to. Then there’s the process of building a rail or other route, placing stations, signals, loading docks, and even airports in the most efficient and aesthetically pleasing way. Sometimes your cargo is manufactured goods, but you’re also often responsible for moving people between destinations quickly and cheaply enough to turn a profit.

Recognizing the real-world cost of unfettered growth, pollution has become a limiting, disruptive factor. Over time, some areas of the map will be choked with emissions if you don’t build wisely, cutting off the ability to expand. It’s a depressing reminder — as if we needed one — that all of our systems are interconnected.

Fever Dreams

In case you missed the implication, Transport Fever 2 is an incredibly deep and complex game. There are two ways to approach it, via the Campaign or the Free Mode. The three-chapter campaign eases the player into the game by essentially serving as an extended and much-needed tutorial. The campaign tasks the player with missions and goals in three historical periods and locales. As tutorials go, it’s quite comprehensive and probably required playing for newcomers. The only negative about the campaign is a bit of acknowledged colonial fervor, an unavoidable element when dealing with 19th-century expansion.

The other, and primary, mode allows the player to craft a starting area, gives them a limited amount of capital to freely traverse the map, completing goals and building a transport network and burgeoning bank account. It’s the kind of experience that sim gamers love. Getting lost in the weeds and machinery is a pleasure.

Build and Craft

Once upon a time, the idea of porting a sim to consoles was daunting and doubtful, but now taken for granted. After all, the genre by definition has a lot of moving parts and elements to control. Transport Fever 2 does a good job of mapping its UI to the controller. It never felt too much like an unwilling partner, except for a rather hard-to-tame camera which sometimes made connecting track or road segments frustrating. With a little experience, using a controller becomes pretty transparent.

On the PS5, graphics options are limited to performance or quality modes. In the quality mode, there was a disconcerting amount of framerate choppiness and texture pop-in, even in the map editor where there’s nothing on screen but a blank canvas. That said, I’m always glad when a sim or strategy game has a full-featured map editor, and Transport Fever 2 has a good one.

Aside from its relatively thin graphics options, there are lots of ways to craft the experience, like tweaking currency, weights, and measurements or changing the soundtrack. The omnipresent instrumental backing music has a lot of variety. I muted it anyway. I wanted to hear the sounds of my trains, planes, and automobiles.

Devil in the Details

Titles like Transport Fever 2 are not made for the general gamer. Tutorial aside, it’s a game for lovers of detail, challenge, and lots of moving parts. For those folks, Transport Fever 2 delivers on consoles the same experience as on PC. It’s a daunting but rewarding good time.

***PS5 code provided by the publisher for review***

The Good

  • Deep and engrossing
  • Welcome tutorial campaign and editor
  • Lots of challenge
  • Good controller support

The Bad

  • Graphics glitches
  • Construction can be a little slow
  • Historically sketchy elements in the campaign