Logistics is a basic human problem when we want to live a good life. Getting goods from one point to the other takes a lot of thought. Today we can follow the process quite well using computers, tracking numbers and instant notifications. Maria doesn’t have all those fancy services when she opens up her express train line. Getting the raw materials to the factories, and the produce to the stations takes a lot of planning on your feet. You have to lay the tracks, speed up the train and control the switches. It starts slowly, and easy enough to scare away seasoned puzzle games. Once it gets going though it is easy to completely miss the plot.
Chillingo recently released Choo Choo Steam Trains, and now the quite similar Incredible Express HD. The games are released in the correct order though, as you are already quite versed in the logistics. The main differences are the more mature feel, and more control you have in Incredible Express HD.
Controlling the game is all done by touch. Tap a switch to change direction, tap a piece of track to build a new piece extending from the first, tap a signal to change direction of the train, and finally double tap the train to speed it up. Most of the time the controls are responsive, but at some times a tap to change a switch can be interpreted as a new track being laid. I would have liked to be able to zoom in to gain a more direct control at times.
Each level gives you a set number of items to transport to the station. Often materials are processed to be turned into the goal item. Setting the switches in a manner that lets you pass all the points needed is important, and the key to success. Producing and refining takes time, and you also have to make sure not to pass a farm or factory too early. The level of strategy involved increases substantially, and getting gold ratings get harder and harder. With 80 levels the game will last quite some time, especially if you are aiming for great ratings. The game has Crystal integration for leaderboards, and achievements.
The presentation is quite stale when it comes to menus and loading screens. When playing the game it flows quite nicely, but there is a lack of detail to the buildings, trains and maps. As tracks get larger the game tends to become quite gritty, and hard to keep track of.
I am not a fan of the music at all. It tries to sound like some kind of old-school jazz/soul played on a keyboard with too many presets. A kid used to watching children’s television might find it decent enough, but not me. As it keeps fading out my own music I have had to play with only the sound effects. At least those are decent.
The gameplay found in Incredible Express HD is nothing revolutionary, but it is quite fun. It is a light-hearted take on simulation games for a touch interface, and a crowd used to time management games. The stale presentation, at times imprecise controls, and awful soundtrack are the clear weak points. What it has going for it is a hefty amount of levels, and if you get into it you will have real good value for your investment.
Incredible Express HD $2.99
Seller: Chillingo Ltd