Rails Across America

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.[2]

Rails Across America
Developer(s)Flying Lab Software
Publisher(s)Strategy First
Release2001 (2001)
Genre(s)Business simulation game
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer


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. The general goal of the game is to accumulate the most "prestige", although specific scenarios may have other goals.[3]

Rails Across America uses a proprietary 2D engine and 3D-flavored sprites, which are outdated when compared to contemporary games of the time.[4] The game is played in a top-down view with various zoom levels.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.[3]

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.

Going bankrupt mid-game can be a viable tactic, suffering a temporary set of restrictions but allowing the player to shed excessive debts in robber-baron style.[5]

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.[6] 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.


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".[10]

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."[11] 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".[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Rails Across America". Metacritic. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  2. ^ "Rails Across America Patch Released". GameZone. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Osborne, Scott (October 11, 2001). "Rails Across America Review". GameSpot. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  4. ^ "Rails Across America". Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  5. ^ "Rails Across America". Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  6. ^ "Rails Across America PC". gamepressure. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  7. ^ "Rails Across America". IGN. October 15, 2001. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  8. ^ Geryk, Bruce (January 2002). "Reviews; Rails Across America". Computer Gaming World. No. 210. p. 115.
  9. ^ Chick, Tom (January 25, 2002). "Railroads and Robber Barons in Real Time". Computer Games Magazine. Archived from the original on June 6, 2004.
  10. ^ Steinmeyer, Phil (October 2002). "Inside the Sausage Factory; I Hate 3D". Computer Games Magazine (143): 98.
  11. ^ Editors of Computer Gaming World (April 2002). "Games of the Year; The Very Best of a (Sometimes) Great Year in Gaming". Computer Gaming World. No. 213. pp. 69–73, 76–84.
  12. ^ Staff (March 2002). "11th Annual Computer Games Awards". Computer Games Magazine (136): 50–56.

External linksEdit