One genre of games that has been ignored since the advent of console gaming has been the vehicle simulation game. Long gone are the days when Microsoft Flight Simulator was a top-selling game. It is a good thing that simulation games still exist on the PC and Railworks 2: Train Simulator is one of the better simulation games we’ve played. When a simulation is both fun and a good representation of the vehicle it is simulating, it deserves praise, and this game manages to do just that.
As far as gameplay is concerned, there isn’t a lot to do beyond getting your train from point A to point B, but this is to be expected. Like a good simulation game should, Railworks 2 focuses on the controls for the train, and the developer did something both interesting and smart by having two different control schemes to choose from when you start your route: simplified controls or normal controls. In simplified mode you only have to worry about 3 things: acceleration, brake, and direction. After that, the train does everything on its own. This simplified control scheme makes the game accessible to everyone, but the normal control scheme is still available for people that want to take things to the next level. Either way, the control options available to both new and old players are impressive, allowing this game to appeal to the masses and not just train enthusiasts.
The game has a fair selection of trains to choose from, including electric, diesel, and steam-powered trains, and you don’t have to be a train enthusiast to see how interesting and different each train type is. Steam-powered trains take a long time to get going once you come to a standstill, while electric trains are very quick to accelerate and brake. It is the little nuances that train enthusiasts will come to appreciate most, and we believe that this game will greatly appeal to that audience. From the stations to the signals, it looks and feels accurate, and anyone that’s ever taken the train will see lots of familiar sights. Even the scenery itself seems to be an accurate representation of Germany, where all the routes are located.
Unfortunately, the game does have some flaws. The graphics engine is under-powered for what it is being used for. More often than not, textures will pop in and out depending on the view you take, and this is most noticeable when you take the viewpoint of a pedestrian on the side of the tracks. You’ll see the basic shape of what is there, but it takes a few seconds to see the actual textures, and by that point the train has moved forward and you have to take a new vantage point. Even when the textures do pop in, they aren’t as crisp and clean as most would hope for. There are a number of lengthy load times when loading or restarting a route, and although load times are to be expected, these can take between 30 seconds and a minute, which seems excessive. Finally, we would have liked to see a little variation in the locations. All the locations available in the retail box take place in Germany, and it would have been nice to see some other areas around the world. You can purchase DLC packs containing other locations, but a little variety on the retail disc would have improved the user’s experience.
All in all, Railworks 2: Train Simulator is a solid game. It is also worth mentioning that anyone who purchases Railworks 2 will receive a free upgrade to the next version of the game, Train Simulator 2012, due out at the end of this month. Personally, this reviewer is excited to see what the developer has added and upgraded. For the time being, Railworks 2 will give you a good train simulation experience whether your interest is merely a passing one or you are already passionate about the hobby. We found the game to be quite approachable, and as such would definitely recommend it to anyone with an interest in trains, or anyone who wants to experience a quality simulation title.
This review is based on a review copy of the Steam version of Railworks 2: Train Simulator by Rail Simulator.com
- Free Upgrade Included
- Nice Selection of Trains
- Fairly Accurate
- Graphics Engine is Under-Powered
- Textures Pop In and Out
- Lengthy Load Times