The family story goes my dad once hopped a train from Whitman Massachusetts all the way down to Plymouth Massachusetts on a lark. This was, allegedly, one of his favorite pass-times, and his love and fondness for trains and locomotives has been a constant theme in my household since birth. Crushing pennies, childhood jaunts to the rail yards to see these massive machines in action, museums, toys, DVDs, books, you name it. My dad, simply put, loves trains.
I…do not. I think they’re cool, incredibly important to the history of the world, and are a marvel of human engineering. Yet, I never got much from seeing these hulking beasts in person, disliked the loud noises, and how dirty my hands got climbing them. My Dad, I’d venture, was more about the “wow” of them. I’ve always been a ‘how’ guy. I’d rather read about the construction of the Eiffel Tower, than visit it. Drive a virtual car versus understanding its ‘real’ mechanics.
Which brings us to Train Sim World, now out on Xbox One, which gave me enough ‘how’ for a lifetime. There are dials and nozzles and throttles and gauges and technical terms and options for ages, each different per the game’s three trains, and it is, frankly, overwhelming. In fact, I found myself totally stumped on how to make the blasted engine move forward on my first mission post-tutorial.
Which is to say Train Sim World is exactly what I’m looking for – and likely to be exactly what gamers eager to get behind the wheel…well..throttle of famous locomotives are seeking out, too. It’s a hardcore simulation for fans of the locomotive world, even down to real-time waiting. Literally my first mission requested I wait 5 full minutes to shove off from the station at a round 19:30.
Is this fun? Well…it depends on you. I’ve always fancied myself something of an open-minded gamer – but also a frugal one. Had the studio not been gracious enough to provide a code to me, I would have never played this. But I’m glad I did and can confidently say it’s worth the asking price. Train Sim World is a game you play, but also one that teaches you, just a bit, what actually goes into the wonderful wubulous world of being an Engineer on a 54000 pound train.
You feel the weight of the locomotive, and you’ll find the most harrowing part of the game is actively getting this massive machine to bend to your will – which, ironically, is what my dad loves most about them – the power. Stopping at the right time, slowing at the right time. Making scheduled appointments. Accounting for turns and twists and proper routes. It’s a lot to take in; and if you’re the kind of player who finds this all appealing – the kind of gamer who loves European Truck Simulator, or Farm Simulator, this is absolutely a game for you. It controls wonderfully, and you’re never fighting the game in the sense you don’t have the tools to accomplish what you’d like.
That said, if you’re more Stardew Valley than Pure Farming, or more Burn Out Paradise than Forza Motorsport, well, then, maybe not. If you have a PC, there is more content available there and naturally far more options to pretty the game up – the framerate is a little chunky when you get going on the Xbox One S.
Regardless, I find myself encouraged by the release of Train Sim World on The Xbox One. There’s a depressing lack of hardcore sims on the platform, save for Farming games and Kerbal Space Program. And, perhaps selfishly, if the game does well, The notion of Euro Truck Simulator or American Truck Simulator or X-Plane coming to the console won’t be so far fetched.
For 30 dollars you’re getting dropped into what’s likely a foreign world – or one you’re intensely familiar with. Given the opportunity I’d put this game in front of my dad, and we’d likely bond – finally a game we could both enjoy. Until that moment, my judgement rests with the message of an old children’s book. If you think you can, think you can, think you can enjoy Train Sim World, you probably will.
A caboose, alas, is not included.