A game in which you flick switches and give the green or red light for trains to go or stop. Are you enthralled yet?
A game about trains. A game about getting trains around a track. A game
in which you flick switches and give the green or red light for trains to go or
stop. Are you enthralled yet? If this doesn't sound exciting to you, the game
probably won't seem exciting either.
Keep it simple to start with...
Essentially, this is puzzle solving game. You have to get trains to
their stops and out of the map as quickly as you can. How you do this is
complicated by a 3D map, the fact that there are often several trains running
at the same time, and those trains will often need to use the same tracks as
ones that are already running.
The game play is probably
this games greatest weakness and strength. The fact that this is a game about
trains is almost irrelevant. It could be about planes, or fruit bats, or little
fuzzy Martians and you'd have a very similar experience. That is, unless you're
a train fanatic who has fantasized about being the fat controller for many
years. The point is, this is a logical strategy game, and you are really just
solving puzzles rather than doing much with trains at all. There isn't much
variance in the trains themselves, in speed or model or make, which train
enthusiasts would find a puzzling omission. There are several maps to
play on, which is rather nice. Each has a distinctive flavor, and gets
progressively harder as you go from level to level. The beginning maps only
have a couple of tracks and a station or two, whereas the later ones bring with
them a level of complexity that an LAX air traffic controller would have issues
dealing with. There is also a pleasing variance in the environment you get to
play in. There are rocky mountains and pastures green, snowy capped hills and
quaint little towns.
There are four modes that you
can play in, Time Attack, Checkpoint,Time Attack Unlimited and Free Play. Time
Attack incorporates a tutorial which teaches you the basics of the game and how
to control the camera. Camera controls are rather important, as you have to be
able to quickly pan around the map and locate trouble spots, switches, lights,
Go on then, get a bit more complex...
Ever felt like you've been sucked into one of those
creepy little to scale model worlds?
Time Attack Unlimited is
largely pointless because it involves playing Time Attack, but without any goal
score. This makes it somewhat like Free Play, except Free Play doesn't give you
any points. One wonders what the point is of awarding points if there is no
goal to achieve. Perhaps its another life metaphor, just one I don't get.
If you enjoyed train sets as
a child, or if you still do now, this game will probably be greeted with a
great deal of excitement. It's like having a massive train set with multiple
environments and many trains, and a points scoring system to play it with,
which is something missing from most real train sets.
Where I will give this game
mad props (if you can do that with a train game) is where camera and map design
come in. There is a very nice ability to be able to zoom right in on various
trains and stops and things, as well as pull back and view a section of your
map. If there was to be a criticism, it would be that you can't quite pan back
enough to see the whole map, which can make things rather confusing.
In the absence of any
multiplayer function, you can upload your scores to a server and compare them
with the scores of others. This leads to plenty of fisherman's stories about
the score that got away. “My computer crashed but my score, it was thiiiiissss
In every mode the important
thing is that you get the trains around that track quick quick quick. Time
Attack involves you gaining points for every stop you make and every train you
clear, all the while you loose points steadily. If you manage to make enough
points, you win the game. It's like time really is attacking you.
Checkpoint involves a timer
counting down steadily whilst you frantically attempt to clear trains. Sort of
like a metaphor for life, there is no getting out of this one successfully. You
can stall things by making the stops at the right stations and clearing the
trains as fast as possible, but eventually you're going to run out of time.
Graphically it's not bad, not
brilliant, but not bad. The simplicity somehow captures the feel of a model
landscape, so there is some feeling that your train set and display came to
life and mutated into a pc game. The sound is equally serviceable. Essentially
it does the trick without being outstanding in any way.
Trains, trains, everywhere...
Hmmm.. What is that model.. the high speed generic?
This is a train game where
you won't learn anything about trains at all. This makes it a good choice for
people who like puzzle games, and those who will buy anything with a train in
it, but a poor choice for those who are looking for something that is actually
LOCO MANIA VERDICT
Top Game Moment: Figuring out
how to flip that switch to make the trains go. That had me puzzled for a while.
Remember, when in doubt, follow the tutorial.