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Review by: Josh Horowitz
Published: July 5, 2001
Anyone who’s seen the film “Stand By Me” or heard the expression “More powerful than a locomotive” knows about the respect trains deserve. If you think about it, the phrase used to describe the comic-book hero, Superman, stands as a testament to the strength and formidability of the fabled steel and iron beasts that helped modernize the world. When not being compared to superheroes, trains are also a hobby with a large following, and have captivated generations of model-builders and trainspotting enthusiasts worldwide. Now, for the first time, the publishing company known for its realistic flight simulations caters to these fans with the release of Microsoft Train Simulator, a game with the detail and complexity for which many train devotees have been waiting. Train Simulator, developed by the U.K. based Kuju Entertainment, gives anyone with even the smallest interest in iron horses the ability to drive one of nine powerful locomotives; ride as a passenger along six detailed, real-world locations, and design custom-built tracks, routes, and driving scenarios.
The nine rail cars in Train Simulator fall under three category types that follow the evolution of locomotion, and each cab has its own unique controls and complexities. Among the steam-powered trains are the legendary 4472 LNER Flying Scotsman from England and the Golsdorf 380, a train famous for its travels along the Orient Express, which ran from Innsbruck to St. Anton. The diesel-powered trains include the freight-bearing General Electric Dash 9, the General Motors GP38-2, and the Japanese passenger car KIHA 31. Covering the electric train category are the Odakyu 2000 and 7000 LSE passenger locomotives, as well as the new Amtrak HHP-8 and Acela Express, both of which are bullet trains capable of going up to 135 and 165 mph, respectively. Each locomotive has been licensed for full inclusion in the game, complete with their authentic markings and unique color schemes.
In addition to its authentic trains and textures, Train Simulator offers six different, highly detailed travel routes spanning four countries and covering over 600 miles. In the U.S., players can haul freight through the 152-mile Marias Pass in Montana, or shuttle passengers along a 133-mile portion of the Northeast Corridor between Philadelphia and Washington D.C. In the Japanese locations, would-be engineers can travel through a portion of the bustling Odawara Line from Tokyo to Hakone, as well as drive down the scenic Hisatsu Line. Finally, the two steam engine trains find their natural surroundings in Europe, with the Settle & Carlisle Line in Northwestern England, and the Innsbruck-St. Anton route through the Austrian Alps.
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