Thursday, March 15, 2018

Train Sim World Review (XONE)

I’m pretty sure 7-year old me would have loved Train Sim World. Being able to explore every inch of a train and move all the switches and press all of the buttons in the cockpit would have blown my little train-loving mind. What about thirty-four year old me? Not so much. I went in expecting it to be somewhat dry and boring, since it’s a sim and all, but I wasn’t expecting it to be quite this hardcore. Most simulation-style games, particularly on consoles, make concessions in favor of accessibility and fun. Not this game. Not Train Sim World. This is a real-ass train SIMULATOR and you better know what that means before you hop on board. Die-hard railfans and trainspotters will absolutely adore the attention to detail, but I’m not sure many other folks will. See all of the details in our full Train Sim World review for Xbox One.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Dovetail Games                       
  • Developer: Dovetail Games
  • ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
  • Genre: Simulation
  • Pros: Detailed interiors w/ real controls; great for train lovers
  • Cons: Not a ton of content; complicated controls; kinda boring; performance issues
  • MSRP: $30

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Having never played any sort of train sim before, I started playing Train Sim World with the expectation that it would be more of a “Push this button to go. Push this button to stop. Keep on a schedule and stop at the right stations,” kind of experience. I was super wrong. This is an extremely detailed realistic train driving sim where just starting the engine and getting moving is a complicated process of several steps where you have to do everything in the right order and “screw you” if you forget how it works because this game ain’t gonna hold your hand and baby you along. Train Sim World is basically Elite: Dangerous but with trains. I think it actually takes less button presses to get your spaceship moving in Elite: Dangerous than it does to start a train here, though.

There are three different train engines in Train Sim World to use, and all three of them have different cockpit layouts and slightly different start up sequences to memorize. You play from a first-person perspective and move a cursor around to push buttons, activate switches, and move levers. Like I said above, people that are crazy for trains will absolutely love the attention to detail and mechanical accuracy of it all. You aren’t limited to just the driver’s chair, either, as you can walk around and look over every aspect of the train, inside and outside. You can even opt to not drive at all and just ride along with the passengers and watch the scenery pass by. Train fans will freaking love this.

Modes include a scenario mode where you complete one of five challenge scenarios as well as a services mode where you take on a route and have to actually make all of the stops. The services mode is the closest to a “do whatever you want” type of mode, but you’re still meant to keep a schedule and play the way the game wants you to. As I keep saying, this is a simulator, after all. The game offers three different trains – two passenger and one freight – and around 40-miles of track through the British countryside to explore. You can set the time for any time of day and there are multiple weather options as well. There isn't a ton of content, but this release is technically the "Founder's Edition" and more content will surely be added later.

I think if you’re a die-hard train fan, you’re going to find a lot to like here, but folks that aren’t absolutely gaga nutso for trains are going to struggle. Train fans will appreciate the extreme attention to detail and the realistic cockpits full of controls, for example, while casual players will likely just be overwhelmed with how complicated it is. Likewise, train fans will enjoy the solitude of running a long route and feel satisfaction at keeping a schedule, but casual players will just get bored. Unfortunately, I fall into the latter category. I love simulation games like Truck Simulator, Spintires Mudrunner, Elite: Dangerous, and Farming Simulator but Train Sim World is just a bit too hardcore even for me.

The presentation in Train Sim World is quite good overall. The graphics are surprisingly detailed and the landscapes you pass through are generally nice looking. Weather effects and lighting changes are very well done, too. The game has massive screen tearing, though, so every time you move the camera the game looks like it is just shredding itself apart in the middle of the screen. It doesn’t affect gameplay, but it certainly looks terrible. The framerate is also wildly uneven as well.

All in all, even though Train Sim World isn’t a game I can see myself personally continuing to play, I can definitely see its quality as a train simulation for fans of the genre as well as fans of trains in general. For more casual players who, like me, enjoy other sim-style video games and think you might be interested in this, you might want to pass. It’s just not as accessible or interesting or satisfying as some other sims can be and without an intense burning love for trains it’ll be hard to break through. I know there are a lot of train fans out there both young and old that will have a good time with Train Sim World, though, so if that sounds like you (I mean, you’re really, REALLY into trains) absolutely give it a look.
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.