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[Steam, run by Electric, is the best media for a train simulation]




Some Bad points (in my opinion)
Too long looking at a blank screen while it loads each scenario.
It isn't intuitive.
Some 'Academy' Scenarios are simply waiting for the scenario to load and then reading the pop up notes, doing absolutely nothing yourself.
It isn't a game. I enjoyed realising how trains are controlled but had no fun playing it.
Going through the Academy to learn the basic controls takes 'forever'.
Automatic spelled as 'Automoatic' page 3 of 5 in Academy learning about switches (okay this is just a typo). but 'automoatic' sounds very technical).
Some message boxes pop up top right but disappear before they can be read.


Some Good points (in my opinion)
Amazing scenery, absolutely top notch, it's like travelling through actual countryside and towns.
Some mistakes can be rectified with no penalty. For example, I was supposed to switch the points so that the train I was driving went straight ahead. I forgot to switch the points and rushed my move, driving the train round to the left. Obviously I realised my error and I stopped the train, put it into reverse, drove it back to about the starting point, changed the points and drove it straight ahead for a successful award.
Name tags pop up on the various pieces of control equipment in the cab when you float the cursor (which also turns into a hand) over them.
Automatic spelled as 'Automoatic' page 3 of 5 in Academy learning about switches; 'automoatic' sounds very technical.


I tried getting straight into the cabin and drive off in my shiny new train to get where I was supposed to be going. I couldn't even get the train to move an inch. So off I went to the Academy which is the tutorial for learning all the controls of the different types of trains, some of which are electric and others are steam, some have a lot of rolling-stock others are simply just the engine. Learning how to switch cabs means that if you are in a train that runs rails like at the Airport where they run Terminal to Terminal on the same track; they have cabins at both ends. You learn how to leave the cab open and ready, move to the other end of the train, through the carriages, and drive the train back.


Some, in fact most, of the Academy scenarios are short but not always sweet. Generally a series of text windows pop up on the vision screen (usually 5 to 15 pages for each, which you tick the 'X' to close the box and move onto the next one. Once the boxes end you activate the switches and levers you were told to and when correct procedure has been formulated and taken another text box pops up to inform you that the scenario is completed.

There is a lot to remember as each Academy scenario rules are shown. Levers have to be at various positions, generally slowly moved from lock position forward, switches have to be flipped or turned, wipers need to be on if it is raining, lights on if it is late afternoon, evening, or beginning to get dark. It is also necessary to know where the Horn is and when to use it. Whoot! Whoot!

Did you know, for instance, that once the train is moving nicely, coasting along, you cut the power and let it roll, only bringing the power back if there is an uphill gradient. If you have a train with many carriages then you need to know how to stop it in time, and that isn't just hitting a button that says 'Brake'. There are three brake types, Independent, Automatic and Dynamic and you need to know in which order to apply them and how much power to put on. Just to make it more of a simulation than a game, each of the trains you get to drive have their brake pedals, buttons and levers in different locations in their cabs. One lever is used as power when pulled towards the driver and as a Brake when pushed away, smaller indicators directly in front of the driver show the percentage of each lever.


When travelling through the Academy there are five types of scenarios; Controls, Driving, Objectives, Safety and Signalling. There are a number of scenarios for each type:
Controls: 8 Lessons for learning the Primary and Secondary controls.
Driving: 10 Lessons for Switching Junctions, Switching Cabs, Stopping, Stopping at Stations, Switching Cabs, Braking Systems etc.
Objectives: 8 Lessons on Coupling/UnCoupling, Refuelling (Coal, Fuel, Water, Diesel).
Safety:  4 Lessons on the various safety factors for each train type.
Signalling: 8 Lessons on Warning, Signal Lights, Stop Lights, Aspect Signals, Combined Signals etc.

As I said, there is a heck of a lot to learn, and the problem is that you cannot learn on the go, you have to know it all before you even begin.


On the plus side, I now feel that if I am left alone in a train yard at any time I could enjoy myself driving trains around. 



© Chris Baylis 2011-2015