Have you ever wondered what a train is like to drive? Look no further! Train Simulator is the closest you will get to drive a train from your armchair. If you are looking for game play and plenty of engaging storylines please do not read on – this is a simulator, raw and simple, and although the graphics, detail and ambiance are superlative; as a simulator it will definitely not appeal to the hardened gamer. The target audience may be limited, but the features of this simulator are certainly not lacking.
Train Simulator takes the rail fan to the heart of railway operations. Locos range from the fabled British Rail High Speed Train to the legendary Flying Scotsman, including locos from all over the world. The detail and level of graphical representation knock any rail simulator that I have ever used into last year! If you are used to Microsoft Train Simulator then it really is time for a change. Train Simulator has pan and zoom functions that execute with a smoothness that makes the whole experience a pleasure to use. Reflective textures and paint schemes, as well as visible animated mechanical components show how much effort has gone into this simulator, and although only using Direct X 9c, the developers have really succeeded in bringing on the eye candy!
Engaging tasks such as controlling a 10,000 ton freight train over a mountain pass, driving a high pressure 125mph express on the East Cost Mainline, or getting your passengers home safely in bad weather are just 3 scenarios waiting for you to taste what it’s like to be a train driver in various corners of the globe. And with plenty of add-on content from locomotives and rolling stock to routes, you will always find plenty of challenges to keep you occupied and make this simulator exactly what Microsoft Train Simulator should have been way back in 2001, with an added smoothness never before experienced in a train simulator. This simulator certainly has the potential to while away 100’s of hours of happy pottering on an incredibly convincing virtual railway.
Two of my pet hates with Microsoft Train Simulator was the real world and task editors supplied with the simulator package. These were notoriously unstable, regularly crashed and were pretty much unusable at times. Train Simulator includes an incredible editor that I found very easy to use, enabling you to edit routes, rolling stock and tasks – or create your own from scratch if you’re feeling adventurous. The editors of Train Simulator are stable and smooth and actually were a pleasure to use – so save money by not buying the professional and official add-ons and make your own!
The only disappointment for me with this simulation was the graphical and global scenery – where as the track, signaling locos and cabs are all done to an excellent standard, the trees, and other flora and fauna I thought could have done with a little more work to complete the feel of total immersion! Having said that however, the weather seems very realistic, as is the representation of people on the stations and in the simulated world – something completely lacking in Microsoft Train Simulator, so a welcome addition here. Coupled with the amazing zoom and pan options this simulation never fails to grab your attention, making you scrutinize, pause and reflect – taking your time – just as you would if driving a real world train!
Sound too is more than convincing. The HST (High Speed Train) sounds like a HST did before they were re-engined in 2006, the Flying Scotsman provides the true sound of the era, taking you there and bathing you in the ambience. This simulation certainly will have plenty of longevity for the true rail enthusiast and will certainly feed those for whom level of detail is paramount, providing potentially hundreds of hours of immersive entertainment. The only problem is that, because there is a lack of variety to the locos, rolling stock routes and scenarios, I can see this getting quite expensive as you feed your habit by buying the vast plethora of add-ons that have popped up since launch. Having said that though, with such a great editor, you could also spend marriage and relationship ending hours creating your own content!
With five well written and compiled documents so you can get the most out of the software, you won’t be scratching around for information online. The quick start guide will get you up and running the rails in record time! Train Simulator can be bought as a traditional hard copy or downloaded through Steam, installation being simple straightforward and totally automatic.
To be totally honest, this simulator is the best thing to be released in years for the train fan. It is realistic and yet compelling, while being totally beautiful in its execution. If you are a rail fan of any kind, in any part of the world – Train Simulator has to be part of your software collection.