A-Train holds a special place in my heart, as the 1992 version published by Maxis is the first video game I ever bought and I spent countless hours on it. I was a bit hesitant to purchase A-Train 8 as it looks dated, the GUI feels awkward and the reviews and overall player feedback seemed mostly negative. But I played the time-limited demo, and even if one hour is a bit short to get a good feel of the game, I ended up purchasing it.
The game has quite a learning curve, and trial and error is very expensive, so you’ll probably botch your first attempts. There isn’t much of a tutorial, the provided documentation is useful but minimal, and I found very little help on the web. The interface is functional once you get used to it, but not very intuitive and it doesn’t provide much feedback about what you can and cannot do. Finally, the track building is rather restrictive, as there is only one turn radius possible, and that’s a bit frustrating at times.
That being said, I am really happy with this game, and I am glad I bought it. The mechanics are simple (dispatching building materials and tweaking train schedules) but designing an efficient and profitable network is a challenging task. Watching the city grow and the numbers add up in response to your actions is very satisfying. The visuals are simple, but I like the style and it makes the game perfectly smooth on my mid-range video card, with everything maxed up on high resolutions, even when the screen is filled up with large buildings. I haven’t encountered any bug so far, and the game runs fine in windowed mode and allows unconstrained resizing.
It is a game that will not suit all tastes, and I think it takes time to start appreciating it. But if like me you are willing to bring back good memories from 1992, don’t hesitate.