Posted on June 27, 2008,

XBLA Hors D’oeuvres: Ticket to Ride

XBLA Hors D’oeurvres are a weekly feature where I play the latest Xbox Live Arcade game – in trial form – for no more than 10 minutes, and then summarize my impressions of the game based only upon that.

I had never heard of the board game Ticket to Ride before the Xbox Live Arcade version was announced. I just don’t play many board games anymore, so my knowledge of the subject is, for the most part, limited to Monopoly and Life. A quick glance at the screenshots for Ticket to Ride and even my first two or three minutes with the trial version of the game had me prepared for a real snorefest, but as it turns out, this is a surprisingly fun and extremely approachable game.

Now, I obviously can’t speak to the level of depth the game has, given that I’ve played it for a grand total of ten minutes. But it doesn’t really seem to me like there’s much to it, unless there’s some hidden layer that isn’t readily apparent. You draw some cards at the beginning (and throughout the game, too, if you so choose) giving you an assignment to build railroads connecting two locations, which you do by collecting cards representing trains. Certain routes require different numbers of cards, and only of a certain color — that’s the general premise, and from what I’ve seen, all there is to it.

That isn’t to knock the game. It might not be Risk, but if you break it down, Monopoly isn’t the most complex game in the world, but the number of ways for things to play out make it so easy and fun to play over and over. I feel like that’s going to be the case with Ticket to Ride, which, as I write this, I’ve become convinced I’ll be buying and playing online for the foreseeable future.

This is a really perfect fit for a board game on Xbox Live Arcade. It’s simple to play and should be a great game to pick up and relax with a few friends online. Visually, it’s good looking enough, although that might only stem from the fact that it’s a board game, and it would be difficult to actually make a board game look ugly on a game system these days. Ditto for the audio, which doesn’t play a major role, because, once again, this is a board game. But the background music is pleasant enough and the little audio effects here and there aren’t overused, which could have been a real problem had they decided to keep throwing things at you. (For reference, check out the Project Gotham Racing pack in Uno, and then you’ll see.)

While it might look complicated and headache-inducing, you should give Ticket to Ride a chance. That is, unless you hate fun.

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