Review by Boeing737
"Not much of a Train Simulator."
Microsoft Train Simulator is almost 4 years old, and despite all the content being released for it, feels ancient.
Obviously, this game revolves around driving trains. You do 'activities' which involve driving from A to B, stopping at stations along the way, with varying difficulty levels. You can also do freight missions, which are quite challenging. Trains require exceptional braking skills, much more than cars, and is not just a simple forward/reverse procedure. You can also explore routes, doing whatever you want. 5 routes are included in the sim, the best ones are the Japanese ones. You can download many 3rd party add-ons, new trains/routes/activities etc.
However, this simulator is definitely not of the same quality as the Flight Simulator series. It has some serious problems which we will address in the review.
Can be quite challenging, and frustrating at times. Unfortunately there is no fun factor whatsoever. It isn't a detailed 3D world. You feel as if you're driving through a dead world. No animated passengers on the platforms, the only moving objects are passing trains, and cars on nearby roads.
The actual train simulation is horrible. Those of us who have been lucky enough to ride in the cab of a train, and like me, drive one as well, will tell you that this simulation's impression of speed and movement is horrific. Basically, its as if the train is stuck to the tracks. The trains don't sway on tight corners, or wobble around. Its forever stuck in a linear motion unless you derail (which is pretty impressive). To add to this, you have no control over the doors (they are not animated). Stopping at a passenger station involves hitting the enter key, to simulate the loading of passengers (which you don't see). You only have control of the main controls. The hundreds of switches and equipment are not modelled. The only good thing Microsoft Train Simulator does, is steam.
If a route is done properly, they can look quite good. In general, the trains do have very good detail. Most routes however don't look realistic enough, the terrain either being too dull or too bright. The cabs are basic 2D panels, with not many features.
The sounds are pretty horrendous. Once you get your train moving, it sounds like constant rolling. Even passing over junctions and points don't trigger extra sounds. Some of the diesel locos sound impressive, but its let down by the track sounds. Unfortunately nothing can be done about that.
Overall, I wouldn't recommend this simulator, despite all the content available for it. Its got hundreds of glitches which spoil any enjoyment you will have. If you have the best system to run it on, it still wont run well. Its a botch job simulator which can't be fixed, and isn't going to be. Get used to reading the send/don't send error reports, and slow loading times.
At the time, this simulator was ok, not excellent, but adequate. The main competitor "Trainz" has less content for it, but is constantly being improved, and offers a slightly better simulation. Microsoft Train Simulator 2 should have been released a long time ago to address the long list of problems, but has been scrapped.
If you're into British and Japanese trains, there is a FREE cabview simulator that makes a mockery of Train Simulator. Called BVE, the latest version is now full screen, and offers many things, including working wipers, actually wiping the rain drops off the windows, realistic sounds, and train movements. The physics are comparable with the real trains. Plenty of routes and trains are available free too!
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 03/01/05
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