Microsoft Train Simulator
a game by Microsoft
This is a first, I honestly fell asleep while playing this game. I don't know whether it was just me suffering from a long day or the realism of the sim but as I sat there watching my diesel locomotive thunder down a straight track I began to drift off, only to be jolted awake as the train went headfirst into a buffer post and crashed. And do you know what? Just for a moment I couldn't tell if it was real or not.
First of all, let me reassure any doubters. I'm not about to criticise Train Simulatorfor actually being a simulator of trains. The argument over the merits of trainspotting is for another time and place. The basic fact of the matter is that as train simulations go, this is as comprehensive a package as you could ask for. Hauling cargo, passenger manifests, long distance runs or short hops between local stations - it's all here and it works a treat.
Plus, it looks, sounds and feels lovely. The attention to detail is superb and, cliched as it is, there's an undeniable thrill about pulling the whistle cord on the Flying Scotsman as you hurtle through the English countryside. Technically there's no faulting it. Perhaps a little more detail when things go wrong and maybe a 'free ride' mode that wasn't so empty of computer Al, but otherwise not too bad at all.
If there is a real criticism to be had though, it's that for the casual player there may not seem to be much variety in the long-term. The activities provide some interesting diversions and there's quite a bit of scenery to explore, but the bottom line is, once you've mastered the controls (which doesn't take long), the mechanics of one train journey are pretty much the same as another. For the train enthusiast though, what's provided in the box is just the start of a much larger journey...
Riding The Rails
Whether or not Train Simulator will be a success isn't down to the talents of British developer Kuju Entertainment though. As with Microsoft's Flight Simulator series, the game's longevity will depend on first and third party support. The included editing software should provide enough encouragement, although the route editor seems overly cumbersome to use. Hopefully, we'll start seeing new routes, new trains and new activities before long (there's already an Internet community growing and I've even seen a London Underground route ready for downloading). Software of this quality deserves a chance after all. Should it happen then there's no reason why Train Sim can't be as popular as a flight simulator. There are far more people with model train sets in their attic than model planes after all.
2018-11-05 Microsoft Train Simulator game added.