Microsoft Train Sim Review21 Apr 2008  by
It had to happen really, no getting away from the fact that there are probably enough train buffs in the UK to sell this title by the truck-load. It is bizarre and it’s called Microsoft rain Simulator developed by UK developer Kuju.
It wasn’t that long ago we previewed this title, Microsoft kept it under wraps for quite some time and finally we have our hands on the final version of the game. So how does it work? Train Simulator puts you in the cabin of some of the world’s most advanced or famous trains allowing you to take them for a spin through many different terrains and landscapes across the globe, Sounds incredibly dull doest it? Before we pass judgment let’s take a look at the game in more detail.Let’s face it, what are the chances you know how to drive a train? Unless you and your mates have been busy down the rail yards on a Saturday night and have taken one of these hunks of metal for the spin.
It’s with that in mind that Train Simulator takes you though a pretty extensive training process for the three different types of trains included in the game.Training will help you get to grips with the diesel, electric and steam trains. Each type is similar in many ways but different enough for Kuju to include training for all three. The training will show you how to brake, accelerate and, wait for it, toot that horn or ring the bell amongst other things. It all sounds very simple but trust me it’s not. If you thought British Rail drivers sat back and drank cups of tea and read the paper then you’re sadly mistaken, train driving is a tough nut to crack.So how does it work? Once the training is done and dusted you can select from a variety of options on the main menu.
Train Simulator will place you in a variety of different situations on all the routes, these have been created to test your driving skill to the limit. For example you may have to make your way along a route after a terrible storm has wreaked havoc causing trees to fall on the track. In situations like this you need to have your wits about you and know exactly what to do in an emergency situation. This is why the training is such an essential part of the game.After each mission you are given an a*essment of your performance, whether you went over the speed limit at any point, the passenger comfort level as well as letting you know if you managed to keep the schedule. Getting a 10% clean record is not easy on a run but it is helped by handy guides which you can pop-up. One of the most useful is the ‘track guide” which tells you the current speed, speed limits on the track, your estimated speed as well as pointing out signal points up ahead.If you’re on a passenger run you need to hit the stations on time and allow 2 minutes for passengers to get on before departing. It all sounds so easy but trust me it’s damn hard making schedules especially with speed restrictions.There is a station timetable which is one of the pop-up windows, essential on passenger runs.As you become more skilled the help guides become less and less important, it becomes easier to spot when you’re going to fast which will ultimately avoid nasty derailments and the controls on each different type of locomotive do eventually become second nature.
The guides are excellent and there is a superb in-cab help menu in case you get really stuck and the training has faded into distant memory. Also included is a simplified control method which makes things a little less demanding but once those controls are mastered the real challenge is having the help turned off completely.Over all there is a great variety of missions, everything from getting your cargo to the depot on time to making sure passengers arrive safely at the Superbowl.Train Simulator really does shine in the graphics department, the scenery is stunning and highly realistic with the trees, landscapes, cities and towns. Each location has it’s own personality allowing you to try out some of the more interesting train routes across the globe.The detail on the trains is top-notch, it seems just about everything has been included and the train models themselves are certainly photo realistic or close to it.
To make sure you don’t miss out on anything there are a variety of camera angle to play with, the in-cab view, top-down, outside and of course the obligatory automatic outside camera. All these can be adjusted using your arrow keys to zoom and rotate around the action.Just like the Microsoft’s Flight sim series expect new additions to the game. The game does ship with an editor which will not only let you customise the cabs of the trains included but also allow you to create your own routes. The inclusion of the editor should add some real longevity to the game as gamers release their own additions. No doubt the guys at Kuju and Microsoft will also release new additions for download adding even more variety.
This is a pretty weird title but you’ll be surprised, there is something very calming and addictive about this game. if you’ve never had the chance to sit up front in train but it was always something you wanted to do then you won’t get much better than this. There has obviously been a lot of time spent on researching each of the trains included and there is a real feeling of authenticity. Train Simulator will not only appeal to train fanatics but should spark an interest with the more casual gamer, it’s highly playable and easy to get into. Right, time to pull on that duffle coat and look out my little black book, the station beckons.