Train enthusiasts haven’t really been catered for on consoles this generation. Sure, we have the awesome Railway Empire, but that’s more akin to games such as Tropico and Planetbase with its initial focus being upon the resource management side of things. However, all you casual gamers and locomotive fans out there can now rejoice as Dovetail Games waters down their very popular Train Simulator game and delivers it to us in the form of Train Sim World. Jump aboard one of the trains and either play through the scenarios given to you or go wild and take over any schedule aboard three varied routes in three different countries.
So, “all aboard”, let’s take a look at just how far the line goes with the price of admission within this smaller, more focused game (compared to its big brother on PC).
Train Sim World is a bit of a strange title. I love Train Simulator on the PC, I’ve poured many hours into it and I sometimes just pull it up and casually take control for a few hours as I’m watching a TV show in the background. Train Sim World is much smaller than that game, with very specific goals and objectives which basically feel like one big tutorial (which I’ll get to later). Off the bat, you’ll be asked to create a character, pick a skin, and give him a name. Why you would need to do this is anyone’s guess at this point. Sure, you can see yourself in the cabin as you’re speeding down the tracks, but other than that, there is no arching storyline or goals tied to your own progression.
What I mean by that is, I’m level 11 in my save file, yet increasing in levels doesn’t unlock new routes, allow me access to new trains, see my character go up the ranks, or even offer any form of cosmetic rewards. So I really don’t see the point in the levelling up aspect as literally nothing holds it together and gives it purpose.
Once your irrelevant avatar has been created, it’s time to chose your method of play. You only have access to three ‘routes’, each with up to seven scenarios in each. Alternatively, if you choose to not follow a set goal, you can choose a train, a route, fully customise the weather you’re driving in, and pick one of many services upon the chosen route. For example, if you pick the “Great Western Express” here in the UK, then you can select one of around 100 services such as the 14:12 from London Paddington to Reading, or the 18:08 from Oxford to London Paddington.
There is a lot of content within Train Sim World, as long as you’re happy with the three routes on offer to you. I am hoping that more become avaliable as DLC later on as I would love some Manchester to London routes – even though it plays in real time so it would be a two-hour trip.
I’m routing for you!
Okay, so what routes are avaliable and what can you expect from Train Sim World? Let’s break down the three of them and talk about the route, the trains and what to expect from the game.
This scenario is based in Germany on one of the most popular S-Bahn railways. You’ll be taking control of the DB BR 1442 ‘Talent 2’ – which is a passenger train – as you complete one of five scenarios. All of these scenarios are simple enough – drive to a station, stop, pick up passengers, goto the next station, stop… etc. I see this ‘route’ as the beginner’s option as you’re not really given anything too taxing and all the services are fully operational.
Great Western Express:
Here, you’ll be given the chance to take control of either the Class 43 GWG, Class 166 GWG, or the Class 66 DBS locomotive. I really enjoyed these scenarios for quite a few reasons; It’s based in the UK, you can go very fast, you’ll be transporting passengers or cargo based on the train, you have more freedom, and not all services are running smoothly. One of the five scenarios sees you sitting on another train as a passenger whilst you travel to the station your train is waiting at, another requires you to end a service early and return to the station at Christmas due to the weather, and another has you refuelling the locomotive after dropping off your cargo, then returning to pick it back up and continue on. I spent many hours on these
NEC New York:
With this route, you can operate the ACS-64 and the GP38-2 YN3. I’m not familiar with this route as it’s based in New York, but you can once again either end up transporting passengers to and from the airport or collecting cargo and moving it about. There is even a scenario all about taking control of the switches in the yard as you manoeuvre the trains around. You’ll also be doing this in the Great Western Express route, but this one focuses on it with a few of the scenarios. The NEC New York also has the most scenarios with seven for you to play through.
Is the train on time?
So, looking at the above you would probably think, “only 17 scenarios? That’s not a lot” – I was thinking the same, and technically it is and isn’t correct. Each scenario has a timer on it, not a timer counting down, but an estimated time of completion. Some scenarios are only 20/25 minutes long wheres the Great Western Express has one at 60 minutes and one at 75 minutes. If you add them all together then you get 735 minutes in total (12.25 hours). I’ve found that a lot of the estimated times are highly accurate as well – one which said it would take 45 minutes actually took me 45:08 minutes to complete! That’s not including all the ‘Service’ mode journeys you’ll probably undertake as well. So there is plenty of content, even if it is only upon three routes in the base game.
Speaking of the Service mode, just what is this? I’ve touched on it briefly but let’s look in more depth! Let’s say you just want to jump in and have a drive around – or even go for a ride yourself! Simply pick a route, ‘services’, a train, and the weather conditions. You can have pretty much any weather effect from a sunny day to a blizzard, or you can customise how wet, cloudy, windy, and snowy it is. Remember, as long as it’s not leaves on the track you should be good to go! Next, you pick the timetable you wish to cover and off you go, you’ll be outside of your train – so hop on and take it for a spin, stopping at all the stations on your route.
An interesting option here is the ability to actually choose “spawn walking” instead of a train. Doing so will allow you to pick your starting station along the selected route, and what time you wish to spawn at. Once you appear in the station, you can hop on any of the trains which pull in – just like as if you’re in a real train station – and go for a ride. Alternatively, you can jump into the driving seat of any train that pulls in and take over the route in order to earn more irrelevant points.
So – what have I not talked about yet… The controls! I both love and hate what Train Sim World has done here. you have two ways to play the game, you can either click all the buttons and switches in the driver’s cabin (all modelled off real-life layouts) or you can use the simplified controls of the controller. I found a mixture of the two worked best. R1 and R2 were usually the throttles, with L1 and L2 being the brakes. Holding down various D-Pad directions allows you quick access to the doors and lights, with taps being the windscreen wipers as well. Another neat feature is the precision aim – push the R3 button and the left stick allows you to move your reticule around the screen without taking your eyes off the track – which is always handy!
So, the cabins themselves, what are they like? They’re all well detailed, with everything you most likely see in a real locomotive. However, due to the low resolution and low textures, a lot of things, such as the displays on the monitors, are impossible to read or interact with from your standard position in the driver’s seat. You either need to stand up and put your face right into the monitor or change your view (by holding R3) to the monitor itself, so it’s auto zoomed in. This issue could have been resolved if the game supported the Ps4 Pro for a higher resolution or we had an option to zoom. I know it’s not realistic, but in Train Simulator on PC, your driver has super-sonic zooming powers in his eyes – we should have that in this game so we can see what everything is more clearly.
Other than that, the trains are fairly straightforward to operate – especially when doing the scenarios with the stupid pop-up ‘tips’! Basically, when onboard a train in a scenario, everything you have to do is clearly labelled and right in your face with a big blue marker. Even if you’ve done the tutorial and a few of the other scenarios, Train Sim World treats you as if you don’t know what you’re doing. There are a few options in the menus to turn off certain things, but I feel this should be by default after you’ve had the tutorials on certain aspects. This small thing makes playing the various missions basically a ‘paint by numbers’ or ‘join the dots’ kind of game, where all you do is exactly what the game tells you to do – every step of the way. I found the ‘Services’ mode doesn’t tend to give you many; if any, hints whilst playing – other than where your next stop is and the standard speed indicators. Speaking of which…
Obey the rules!
Train Sim World disappointed me. You can’t go at 125 MPH and then derail and watch your train crash out and burn, or ping into space, like you can on Train Simulator. The developers have made the game way too safe and accessible to all people of all skill levels – which is both good and bad. It’s good because anyone can join in and enjoy the gameplay. It’s bad because people like me can’t have fun watching the train have a disaster. If you go through ANY red light during your gameplay – the scenario just ends. No warning, no penalty, it just says game over and the game goes back to the main menu. There is no penalty for going over the speed limits either, even if you’re going 70+ in a 15 MPH zone. I tried to push it and the only thing that stopped me was the red lights. I’m not sure why the game has been dumbed down so much, but it’s not a ‘feature’ I agree with or like. If it’s calling itself a ‘sim’ then I feel we should be able to suffer the consequences of our actions.
Similarly, there is no punishment for being reckless as a human either. If you jump in front of a train, you simply ghost through it or magically get warped inside the driver’s cabin – you’re also allowed to freely jump onto the train tracks and run around. I know that a title card comes up once you boot up the game saying it’s for entertainment purposes and don’t do anything you see in the game in real life, but still – make us pay for jumping in front of the train or something!
One thing I loved about Train Sim World was the attention to detail in regards to the scenery around you as you’re travelling on the tracks. In the countryside, you’ll see farmhouses, barns, fields, bushes, and trees. Then in the urban areas, you’ll get houses, offices, depots, and car parks. There are even some monumental buildings which help you recognise places as well as the highly detailed real-life stations. So props to the developers for this. However, don’t get too close as some of the texture work on places they don’t expect you to go isn’t the highest quality! One thing the game does lack though is life. Train Simulator on the PC has random cars driving around and people here and there – Train Sim World has a bunch of clones who get on and off your trains and some stand at the platforms – that’s about it. It’s like the apocalypse has happened and all that’s left are some brain-dead clones who want to get from Oxford to London Paddington!
Your service has been affected…
Okay, I’m going to list out the issues I had with my version of Train Sim World – these issues may get fixed in the future, but as of today (24/07/18), they aren’t fixed:
• The precision control – pushing R3 – works fine, but if you go into the pause menu to look at your map, it stops working. This means the Left Stick goes back to controlling the ‘reverser’ at all times and you can’t operate any levels manually anymore. This is annoying and almost breaks the game
• You can go out of bounds. Jump out of your train and go for a walk in the countryside – you will walk until the houses and trees are gone, then the grass turns into a grey un-painted mesh, then you’ll find yourself lost in a digital desert. I’m not sure why Train Sim World doesn’t stop you with boundaries.
• Speaking of which – in Service mode, you can jump on a train that’s heading outside of the boundaries of the route… This results in you being thrown from the train and landing on the tracks. As you walk back to the train – only the carriage you were in will be stuck within this universe as it fights to drive into an invisible wall, a wall which you can’t see or feel and doesn’t affect you walking through it. Regardless, the train is stuck and it looks like it’s in a time-field like in the first episode of the X-Files. You shouldn’t have trains going outside of the route in the game!
• You can sit on the passengers. Now, I know that sounds funny, but it’s rather disturbing. If you sit in a chair with a passenger and look around – you’ll see that you’re sat on the passenger and you can see deep inside their soul (well, body). Then, when you stand up – the passenger is absorbed within your buttocks as you make them vanish from the face of the Earth. Full disclosure – I’m not sure if that is what happens to them, but the passenger does vanish and I can’t think of any other explanation!
As I said – the above could get fixed it updates, and I will update the review if they are, but at this moment in time, they were all things I spotted that impacted my enjoyment – apart from the butt-sucking, that was quite amusing.
Graphically Train Sim World is good, but it could be better. They have increased the LoD this morning, so pop in should be less apparent – but you can still see it occurring quite a bit, which isn’t good when you’re travelling fast in a train and you see things appear right before your very eyes! Again, not an issue on the PC version. Also, the low-quality textures is a kick in the teeth if I’m being honest. I’d understand it if it’s billboards or small signs at a station, but if you zoom into a monitor in the driver’s cabin, the dial on the monitor (which is now full screen) is running at an abysmal resolution. There doesn’t appear to be any PS4 pro enhancements either in regards to the quality or resolution within the train, which is a shame as the pro could easily bump it up a little I imagine. The textures outside of the train aren’t anything special, but you don’t notice their issues as your travelling at 70+ MPH in an enclosed death-trap. However, the game does run super smooth and I had no issues at all with framerates – so maybe the pro is being used for that side? Who knows – developers don’t tell us these things.
Sound wise, Train Sim World is as you would expect – there is music in the menus but the actual game is all about the sounds of the trains whooshing by as you work out why your train isn’t moving and which button will turn off the annoying alarm you accidentally turned on! The sound effects are fine – everything sounds realistic and I didn’t lose any immersion over it. It even has various messages being played over the tannoys in certain stations as well. The small features like that are great in the game, I just wish a bit of this care went into the issues and the visuals above.
So, did I truly hate and detest Train Sim World as much as I’m making out I did? Nah. The developers have made the advanced simulation of Train Simulator into a much more casual and easy to access version in this budget version of the main game. To be honest, even Train Simulator has been watered down a little compared to how the game was a few years back – it’s all about making it more accessible to more people, even if it does mean cutting back on a few things. However, the above bugs did affect my enjoyment and the overabundance of hand-holding was a bit patronising and too much guidance. Like I said initially, it’s a great game but the scenarios felt like one long tutorial segment. Regardless though, I enjoyed playing the game and after about seven hours, I was really into it. I had to pull myself away from the game to actually do this review!
Official Accolades Trailer (We’re in it!):
Train Sim World is the best simulation game, based around driving a train, available on consoles to date. Okay, it may be the only one as well, but it still doesn’t affect the fact that I had a lot of fun playing it. Sure, there are issues with pop-in, texture quality, the inability to purposely die or destroy a train, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game – it’s just a little too forgiving at times. With the ability to either participate in the pre-set scenarios or just go crazy in the Services mode, there is a lot of content here which will keep any locomotive fan happy for many hours. Hopefully, more routes and trains will be added for the die-hard fans out there though – just maybe not over £7,000 worth like on PC!
Either way, if you, or someone you know, enjoys trains and have always wanted to drive one by actually pressing the right buttons or using the comfort controls, then this is the game to buy – unless you own a PC, in which case I’d recommend Train Simulator by the same developers.
Check out my review for the recently released DLC here: http://www.gamepitt.co.uk/train-sim-world-west-somerset-railway-dlc-ps4-review/
Train Sim World£39.99
- Very detailed locomotives and stations
- The scenarios themselves have over 12 hours of content
- Service mode lets you operate hundreds of varied services along three routes
- Both realistic and casual controls are supported
- Easy to get lost in and spend hours playing without realising
- Texture quality isn't great - both inside and outside of the trains
- You can't mess around and derail or purposely cause havok
- The red light 'game overs' are very strict and without warning sometimes
- Lots of glitches and bugs at the moment (see above)
- I can only see this appealing to people who like the subject