STAFF REVIEW of Train Sim World: Founder's Edition (Xbox One)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018.
by Brent Roberts

Train Sim World: Founder's Edition Box art From the evolution of civilizations, to the dreams of young children around the world, trains have always captivated our imagination with their power and purpose. There are many forms of train usage; from transportation of cargo to the transportation of people, trains and their purposes have evolved as well. Recently, Dovetail Games has released Train Sim: World Founders Edition for the price point of $29.99, and its goal is simple, as it aims to bring you the wonderment and magic that these powerful machines can produce into the virtual world of console gaming. Let's hop aboard and dive deeper into what could possibly be the best train simulation on the planet.

Simulation games have been done before, including a bunch of quality ones from Dovetail Games, so I was confident as to the level of quality I should expect. In terms of trains, people (including myself) can't help but think of the old steam trains where a couple people were in an the locomotive shoveling coal into a hot fire while watching the oil pressure and brakes. Modern trains are so much different, it's like you're stepping into a cockpit full of buttons, switches, levers, dials and all other kinds of interactive items. In this game you get the ability to control three different types of trains that range from mighty diesel engines to high speed modern beasts. Now, if this is beginning to feel a bit overwhelming, it's because it is.

Train Sim World: Founders Edition provides a beginning tutorial that will take you step by step into each train and give you a sense of how to operate it on a very basic level. Each train has its own cabin with its own layout and design, so you will have to get comfortable with more than just one style. Once you complete the tutorial, not only will you net yourself a 100-point achievement, but you'll be completely clueless as to how the rest of the game will operate. Outside of this beginning tutorial you have access to a Scenario and Services modes.

In Scenario Mode you are tasked with choosing your train adventure. Some scenarios range from 15 minutes while others be up to an hour, so be ready to devote some serious time when you pick your route. These different routes consist of stops and speed traps along the way, but sadly there are only 5 to choose from. The Services Mode is what you could consider to be a free roaming mode where you pick what train you want and the track, etc. It's here that you can also see an incredible amount of options for weather.

As you go through these two game modes, you'll rapidly realize that your training in the tutorial wasn't enough. While there are some pointers and hints to tell you what button or lever to push or pull or turn next, you only cover about 5% of all the dials, buttons and levers in the cabin. So, what the other ones do is something you must discover while you're sitting alone, in your cabin, watching life drift by you.

Why such a dreary description? That's because playing this game instilled in me a tremendous sense of solitude and loneliness. I would actually set down my controller at times and go to the kitchen to get a drink, or hit my PC to answer some emails, and when I came back the train would still be on its way to the station. It was an eye opener to me, because it was a perspective on a position that I never thought about. When you get locked into that virtual cabin it dawns on you that for hour after lonely hour you will sit and stare out of a window and control a throttle lever, all alone. However, if you prefer the tranquility of solitude then this aspect of the game will be a welcomed addition for you.

Now, this game strives to be lifelike, but it it comes up short in a few areas. First off would be the visuals. There is a tremendous amount of screen tearing whenever you move the camera angle, so essentially there is nothing but constant screen tearing throughout the entire game. Staying on the topic of the visuals, the character models are limited and repetitive, but not in an abundance that would make you feel like the area is populated, as out of 100 seats in the passenger cars, only 12 will be filled randomly throughout each one. There are other glitches with the graphics that detract from the experience too. For example, when you are a passenger and you move between cars, the first door opens relatively simply; however, the second door is imaginary as you can walk right through it.

Those aren't the only doors that you can fall through, as I found out when my character was exploring the cabin while the computer was driving. I got glitched out of a locked door and fell onto the tracks. The fall didn't kill my character, but I did have to run to the next station. Then when I did get to the station I could not jump on any ledge, so I had to backtrack a couple hundred yards and find a slope that I could walk towards and glitch upon so I could run to my train and try and keep my important schedule of stops.

That's when it hit me. This game is selling you artificial stress and responsibility. People play games to temporarily escape some of the realities of their daily life and this game gives them a synthetic version of reality. Coupled with a small NASA launch console to contend with that you don't know what does anything, constant screen tearing, and quite possibly one of the loneliest jobs in the world, you get a whole new respect for train operators. Just think, in a world where we, as a society, demand on-time service, now that wonderful stress and responsibility can be all yours, but you can turn the console off and walk away.

So, does Train Sim World: Founders Edition pull into the station of awesomeness or does it derail in spectacular fashion? A little of both actually, but one thing is for sure, and that is the question: "Should you buy this at $29.99?" Unfortunately I don't think so. That being said, this game has a distinct audience and it will find a few fans, but those that aren't into this kind of genre might just want to take the bus, instead of the train.

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 6.5 / 10


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