Review – Train Simulator 2012

Over the past week or so Steam has been running a sale on Halloween/horror themed games. One game, oddly, was Train Simulator 2012 with its Trains vs. Zombies DLC. (No, really.)

I had seen Train Simulator before but had mostly been aware of it as that game that had about 150 pieces of DLC on Steam. (It appears that every single train car and locomotive ever made is available separately as DLC.) But for some reason the concept of “Trains vs Zombies” was weird enough that (along with the 50% discount) it convinced me to pick it up and actually look at it. So marketing successful, I suppose.

Having played with the game a bit, I have to say that I am disappointed with it. I’m not sure what I was expecting actually but the game has for me failed to deliver, though I’m not sure if that is the fault of the game or not.

As the title states the game is a train simulator. A train simulator has to be different from just about any other simulator out there in that you don’t have full freedom in where you go. A plane, boat or even farming simulator should let you wander around more or less freely within the simulation area but trains by their nature are confined to their rails. You don’t steer a train, you just manage the speed to keep it from falling off the rails on a curve and to make sure you stop at the station at the right spot. That’s about it.

Yeah, there is some complexity in managing steam levels and brake line pressure, but in the end you are really just running up and down a fixed path and trying to make all your stops on time.

Anyone who is into model railroading, which would probably be the target audience for this, will probably tell you that building the landscape that their models run on is at least as much fun as actually running their trains. Probably more so. I thought that the game may have some enjoyment in letting you watch the scenery as the train runs through it (and it does to some extent) but even that is limited by the fact that you can pretty much only see things centered on the train. It may look like there is something interesting just down the road but unless the rails go there you aren’t going to be able to get a good look at it.

I guess what I was looking for is a good sight-seeing game. Train Simulator, while maybe interesting to the proper fans, isn’t it.

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