Rails Across America

Rails Across America
Developer(s)Flying Lab Software
Publisher(s)Strategy First
Genre(s)Business simulation game
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer
  1. Rails Across America Game
  2. Rails Across America Tours
  3. Rails Across America Comic

Rails Across America is a really interesting strategy title. Featuring innovating gameplay surrounding the shady world of railroading, Rails Across America, although it has sub-par graphics and sound, delivers in a big way. The replay ability of the game even furthers its laurels. Rails Across America: A History of Railroads in North America Hardcover – December 1, 1993 by William L. Withuhn (Editor) 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 ratings.

Rails Across America is a railroad simulation game released in late 2001 by developer Flying Lab Software and publisher Strategy First. It received generally positive reviews.[1] Though no official expansions have been released, a rudimentary map-editing tool was made available to the player community.


The game covers the period 1830–2040 in North America (including parts of Canada and Mexico). The game is 'strategic' with emphasis on expansion of rail networks, finance, and competition with other railroads.

Rails Across America uses a proprietary 2D engine and 3D-flavored sprites, which are outdated when compared to contemporary games of the time. The game is played in a top-down view with various zoom levels. At the closest zoom, one can see animated trains and industries. At the furthest zoom the map is an abstract of the rail network. The user interface includes many 'report' style screens which allow players to analyze the performance of specific aspects of their railroad, to compare themselves to their competitors, to obtain financing, etc.

The seamier side of the great age of railroad expansion is represented by a system of 'influence' which is gained by various achievements, and which can be expended in various ways to undermine the competition. Influence is represented by colored 'cards' with number values and some flavor text. The color and numbers are used in contention with opponents and the outcome can affect finances, construction, prestige, etc. Some smaller scenarios do not use the influence system.

Single-player mode includes multiple scenarios with specific goals, and longer 'campaign' games. Multi-player mode supports up to eight players over LAN or GameSpy. Players who drop out are replaced by AIs.

The game provides several options which allow players to customize the experience, especially in multi-player mode.


Aggregate score
Review scores
Computer Games Magazine[5]

According to Phil Steinmeyer of PopTop, developer of Railroad Tycoon 3, Rails Across America received 'outstanding reviews' but 'sold poorly, and Flying Labs abandoned plans for follow ups'.[6]

The game won Computer Gaming World's 2001 'Best Game We Just Don't Get' special award. The editors wrote, 'Rails Across America is a very, very good game—according to a pack of our freelancers. We respect our writers' opinions, but not one of the CGW edit staff could warm up to this 4.5-star robber baron game.'[7] The editors of Computer Games Magazine nominated Rails Across America as the best strategy game 2001, but ultimately gave the award to Civilization III. However, it won the magazine's special award for 'Best Multiplayer'.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ab'Rails Across America'. Metacritic. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  2. ^Osborne, Scott (October 11, 2001). 'Rails Across America Review'. GameSpot. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  3. ^'Rails Across America'. IGN. October 15, 2001. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  4. ^Geryk, Bruce (January 2002). 'Reviews; Rails Across America'. Computer Gaming World (210): 115.
  5. ^Chick, Tom (January 25, 2002). 'Railroads and Robber Barons in Real Time'. Computer Games Magazine. Archived from the original on June 6, 2004.
  6. ^Steinmeyer, Phil (October 2002). 'Inside the Sausage Factory; I Hate 3D'. Computer Games Magazine (143): 98.
  7. ^Editors of Computer Gaming World (April 2002). 'Games of the Year; The Very Best of a (Sometimes) Great Year in Gaming'. Computer Gaming World (213): 69–73, 76–84.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  8. ^Staff (March 2002). '11th Annual Computer Games Awards'. Computer Games Magazine (136): 50–56.

External links[edit]

  • Rails Across America at MobyGames
Retrieved from 'https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Rails_Across_America&oldid=981989142'
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  1. Rails Across America
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Description of Rails Across America Windows

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Rails Across America is an excellent strategy game debut from Flying Lab Software, published by Strategy First.

Rails Across America Game

Although it seems at first glance to be another hands-on railroad building/management game in the vein of Railroad Tycoon 2, RAA is a very different game that has much more in common with 1830, SimTex's underrated PC version of Avalon Hill's boardgame. And like 1830, RAA is a superb beer-and-pretzel strategy game that deserves a spot in our Hall of Belated Fame.

Let's first dispel the commonly mistaken perception people have when seeing this game on store shelves: Rails Across America is NOT Railroad Tycoon. It does not let you micro-manage your railroad empire at operational level, such as changing your bogey types to match each city’s supply and demand, laying tracks carefully to avoid high elevations that will slow down the trains, and deciding the exact location for your depot/station.

In contrast, Rails Across America is a 'macro-level' strategy game that lets you concentrate on the big picture of managing a successful railroad company. Starting at any time between 1830 and 2015, you compete against up to seven opponents, either human or computer-controlled. The goal is either the completion of a set scenario goal or the accumulation of prestige points, which are awarded for every profitable action you take, with big rewards available for achieving feats like completing a trans-continental line. The AI competitors are modeled, like in SimTex's 1830, after real-life barons such as Gould and Vandebilt. I find the AI in RAA tougher than the ones in 1830 with more distinct personalities. Some barons will engage in costly price wars with you, some will concentrate on laying expansive tracks, and some are savvy investors that will attempt to sabotage your operations as soon as opportunity arises.

The gameplay is easy to learn, and very user-friendly as most micro-management tasks are automated for you, thus allowing you to focus on high-level business and strategic decisions such as 'what is the best economic opportunity I have at the moment?' For example, when you lay tracks to connect one city to another, you can use the 'suggest' button to see and approve the computer's recommendations of profitable routes. You can even let the computer assign freight and passenger trains to run on new routes for you, if you don't feel like doing that on your own. This level of automation may make it seem like RAA is a simplistic or easy game, but that's far from the truth.

Although you don’t have to micro-manage, you have to do everything else: balancing train traffic and capacity utilization levels, constantly improving your operations with newer signals, more tracks, and replacing older engines, adjusting to the growth of cities over time - these are just some of the tasks you are responsible for. The key to winning in RAA is sound business logic, i.e. seizing the right business opportunity at the right time, ahead of your opponents. But when the going gets tough, you can use 'influence cards' to execute some Machiavellian schemes. These cards work similar to the cards in Entrepreneur and Corporate Machine: you get one card every two months of game time to do fun things like intimidating a city, sabotaging your rivals' lines, promoting labor strikes, or badmouthing about your competitors to the banks so they will be refused new loans for months. You can even use graft to increase the rate of getting new cards, and the same cards can be accumulated and used simultaneously to increase their effectiveness.

Although each game can be finished in one evening thanks to the compact, focused beer & pretzel design, RAA is almost infinitely replayable thanks to a great variety of scenarios, opponents' behavior, and gameplay options. The game includes more than 20 scenarios which encompass interesting historical events in the history of U.S. railway, such as the construction of the Trans-Canada line and dealing with the turmoil of World War II. There is also a number of 'What If?' scenarios that are based on alternate history of the 19th century. If you ever wonder what happens if the British barons were trying to dominate California lines, now is your chance to find out. Each scenario requires different strategies to succeed, because there are some fundamentally large differences; for example, you have to cope with abnormally high interest rates and demand slump during the Great Depression of the 1930s, and Billy the Kid (yes, Billy the Kid) in the 1880s. Like any other good strategy game, RAA includes the sandbox scenario, the freeform mode that allows you to set your own parameters and goals.

With a superb user interface, playability, and outstanding play balance and variety, Rails Across America is a must-have for any fan of strategy game who is looking for a solid, fun 'quickie' strategy title that can be finished in one setting, but offers plenty of challenge and variety for repeated play. The game supports all major multiplayer modes (up to 8 players), including TCP/IP, LAN, and GameSpy Arcade support.


A definite must-have to any fan of business simulation or the colorful history of robber barons, although railroad engineers who are looking for the next Railroad Tycoon should look elsewhere. Two thumbs up, way up!

Review By HOTUD

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Screenshots from MobyGames.com

Comments and reviews

Santiii RVM2020-07-31-1 point


Rails across america free download

CUX2020-07-24-1 point

the game is asking for serial after installation

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Rails Across America Tours

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Rails Across America Comic

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