Gaming Reviews

Published on March 27th, 2018 | by Michael Newman

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Train Sim World Founders Edition

Back in the early days of video gaming, simulations were all the rage.  Everything from flight simulators to tank simulators could be purchased and played, allowing those with dreams of being airline pilots or rolling hulking beasts across Western Germany (it was the 80’s after all) the opportunity to do so.  Time changes all things however, and the simulation market seemed to disappear almost entirely from the gaming scene.

Recently there has been a small resurgence in simulation games and everything from driving semi-trucks across the country to operating farm equipment has become popular.  Once again, those who dream of a different life have an opportunity to escape into the digital world to pursue it.  Sadly, this genre has largely ignored the console market.  Do console players not long to drive trucks across the country?  Do we not yearn to lead a different life than one we’ve chosen?  Well fear not Xbox owners, you can now live out your dream to drive one of the largest vehicles there is.  Say hello to Train Sim World: Founders Edition.

Train Sim World: Founders Edition allows would-be train engineers of all ages take to the rails to deliver passengers from one station to another, being conscious of the schedule (departure and arrival), the speed limit on the area of track you are approaching and watching for the next red/green signal.  The first set of tutorials will take you through the basics of each train type, teaching you how to start the train, how to stop the train, and what the numerous buttons/switches/levers do.  While it can be a bit overwhelming at first, the game does a good job easing you into each situation.

After the tutorials, I had the opportunity to take my first “job” as the engineer of a passenger train in jolly old England.  The game takes itself seriously as a simulation, so much so that my first day on the job required me to catch a train (as a passenger) and ride to the station where “my” train was departing from.  I walked to the train, hopped on board, took a seat in coach, and I was on my way to my very first day of driving a train.  The game takes place in real time, so I literally rode the train for 10 minutes on my way to the station.  Nothing much happened during my commute but after a few minutes in coach I switched to the first-class cabin, so I could travel in style.

Once I arrived at the station, I rushed over to my train so I could open the doors and allow the passengers to board.  Once we boarded, we waited…we waited for 15 minutes, because my scheduled departure time had not yet arrived.  At least the extra 15 minutes gave me the time to anxiously look over the numerous buttons and levers and fortunately find the button to start the windshield wipers (it’s awfully rainy in England after all).  The departure time finally arrived and utilizing the skills I had learned in the tutorials I eased the train out of the station and slowly brought her up to speed (about 80 MPH).  With some quick deduction on distance and speed traveled 80 MPH seemed to be the sweet spot to arrive at my destination on time…roughly 20 minutes away.

My cat Bliss came to sit next to me while my train was roaring down the tracks.  During this time, I checked some Facebook posts, pet Bliss, and looked out the windows as the scenery passed me by.  I kept an eye on the distance and my speed, as I was trying to estimate how quickly I could slow down when I arrived at the station.  By my estimates I’d arrive at the station with about two minutes to spare.  I was feeling pretty proud of my first time delivering passengers…maybe I had missed my calling in life, maybe driving a train was my destiny? Then tragedy struck.  I decided I should start to slow the train gradually and planned to slowly set the brakes to level 1, instead I set them to level 2 and slowed the train so much that my speed dropped to about 8 MPH…I crept into the station arriving 4 minutes late.  So close, yet so far.  For my very first attempt I still felt pretty proud.

Since there is little else to do once you get your train up and running the scenery becomes more important than anything else.  Train Sim World is absolutely stunning with its use of the Unreal 4 Engine, recreating roughly 40 miles of destinations in the UK.  Weather and time all play out realistically, utilizing real world train schedules to keep things as authentic as possible.  The trains are extremely detailed, recreating numerous switches, knobs and buttons as they’d appear on their real-life counterparts. The game allows you to change camera angels, so you can play your trip entirely from a first-person perspective, or switch to a camera view outside to watch your train make its way down the track.  I did occasionally have some graphical clipping and some choppiness which was a bit annoying considering I was playing the game on an Xbox One X but it wasn’t enough to detract from the overall beautiful vistas and highly detailed trains.

Audio effects sound authentic, from starting up the powerful engines to the rain as it strikes across your windshield.  Much like the real world there are no musical tracks that play in the background, so it’s up to you to bring along your own tunes for the journey.

I learned a lot about what life as a train conductor might be like.  I learned that schedules are much less stressful when real people aren’t relying on my abilities to pull into the station on time.  I also learned that my cat Bliss prefers riding beside me while I drive a virtual train, far more than riding beside me as I drive an actual car.  Most of all I learned that sometimes there’s nothing more relaxing then pulling away from a train station, and peering out the window, watching the scenery go by.  There is absolutely nothing quite like starting up the engine, loading up the passengers and heading down the tracks to your next destination.  My experience on the rails was enjoyable and relaxing.  Train Sim World Founders Edition is a simulator at heart as it takes place in real time, which means there will be lots of times where you are literally doing nothing.  That being said, there is something genuinely exciting about driving a train, even if most of that excitement is the feeling you get when you’ve remembered all the buttons and switches you need to just get it moving.  The game requires some practice, and I certainly recommend going through the tutorials to have a basic understanding of how it all works, but I was able to get up and going within a relatively short amount of time.  If you are someone, like myself, who enjoys a good simulation, then Train Sim World Founders Edition may be exactly what you are looking for.  All aboard for Paddington station!

What I liked:  Beautiful train/Scenery design, Excellent tutorial, Real world schedules

What I liked less:  Graphical tearing, Choppy in some areas

4 out of 5 stars

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