For all the little boys out there who dreamed about being in control of real life locomotive,Train Simulator 2013 allows that dream to come true. I can remember playing with the train set that my father built for me as if it was only yesterday. I was never able to comprehend the concept of the throttle and why it needed to be decreased going around bends, which resulted in the frequent derailing of my Santa Fe engine into the nearest building or off the train set table entirely. Fast forward 20 years and instead of playing with toy trains, I now take an Amtrak owned commuter train into New York City five days a week. Giving me the chance to be one the behind the wheel…err levels that is of the same trains that I pay for a ticket for daily.
Train Simulator 2013 – as the name implies – was designed for train fanatics that want a true to life train simulation. Although there are some technical issues that hinder the experience, you still get the authentic experience of what controlling a train entails.
Running the train, involves a multitude of levers and switches that must be used in unison as well as the precise moment. Whether you are pulling twenty or more freight cars or a tiny three car passenger train, speed and time are your biggest concern. Offering a huge collection of various scenarios from the London to Brighton line in England to the Amtrak lines in the United States, each with set tasks besides finishing the predetermined route. Upon completion, you are scored based on how efficiently you completed the tasks. Missing stops – happens more frequently than I would like to admit – being late, forgetting to pick up passengers and speeding all count against you. Speeding tended to be my biggest downfall, as it is quite easy to pick up speed and forget about the upcoming curve that requires the use of the brakes or risk derailing. Let’s just say derailing is not that hard to do.
Weather plays a major factor on the scenarios that don’t have bright sunny days. Heavy rain or snow can delay trains and forcing cancellations or re-routing, while wind can have adversarial effects on an otherwise comfortable ride.
The length of the scenarios vary from short ten minutes rides to some that can take well over an hour. A save system is in place for when you need to step away or get bored traveling across the midwest of the US. It’s quite useful as I found my enthusiasm for controlling a train to waver after I hit the 20-30 minute mark. With multiple camera views, you can get any angle of the train sthat you so desire – even a look inside passenger trains. The free roam view can provide a view from any place in the environment, but is better used when the train is not in motion as the camera easily lags behind the speeding locomotive. Using Steam Workshop, there are an infinite amount of new trains and routes that can be downloaded. Zombies on a Train anyone?
The visuals for the trains are commendable, with every detail represented in the game. I swear you could count the amount of bolts and it will match up with the real thing. Being familiar with the Amtrak train system, I was impressed by the in-game likeness of the models and sounds of the trains. Everything from the warning horns and bells to the “whoosh” sound of leaving a station. Inside of the trains are much lower-resolution than the outside, but it was still faithfully recreated. The stations and environments were seemingly recreated from the real world as well with each station detailed with signs and benches with people walking to and fro – and even through objects. Scary.
Without a proper tutorial, you will be lost at first and fail quite a few scenarios. Hell, it took me twenty minutes figuring out why my train stopping moving in the middle of a tunnel in New Jersey. Maintaining proper speed tends to be much harder than it should be. Holding the mouse button down to select a specific throttle speed is easy, but issues arise when you release the mouse button. Instead of the throttle staying exactly where it was previously set, the lever adjusts itself to a preset percentage – which may be slower or faster than your desired speed – resulting in quite a long list of speeding violations.
Another issue is the occasional failure of the game to load properly. After watching an extra long loading screen, you may receive an error message that a train or scenario couldn’t load followed by the game sending you back to the main menu. Did this occur every time I booted up the game? Of course not, but it does beg the question how a game could be released that has a chance to not even load properly.
If you are a hardcore train fanatic, Train Simulator 2013 is without a doubt the perfect game for you. Even if you aren’t into trains, but played with trains as a kid you will still enjoy being behind the wheel well, levers of a locomotive. As simple as it sounds, the complex nature of smoothly braking to a station and picking up passengers isn’t as easy as it sounds. Surprisingly I enjoyed doing such an action-less task – even if it was for only a limited amount of time.. With plenty of available DLC if you get hooked, you will always be able to find something new.
Note: The Train Simulator 2013 review was written based on the PC version of the game provided by the publisher.