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Microsoft Train Simulator

aka: MSTS
Moby ID: 4233
Add-on (unofficial)

Description official descriptions

Microsoft's 'Simulator' franchise expands once again with its newest addition: the MS Train Simulator. Take to the rails in such real-life locations and routes as Philadelphia to Washington D.C., become a hard-trained engineer to operate freight train at Northwest Corridor, and enjoying Orient Express pass by Alpen Mountain. The game also includes a full track and train editor, allowing you to swap maps and trains online.

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Screenshots

Credits (Windows version)

194 People (152 developers, 42 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 78% (based on 22 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 8 ratings with 2 reviews)

For train buffs only

The Good
I've always been fascinated by trains and I'm not alone. Microsoft obviously knew that and therefore they attempted to make a train simulator franchise.

I'm no train driver but from what I experienced with Train Simulator, the designers did lots of homework and they built a really good simulator. Is it realistic? I couldn't know. But does it SEEM realistic to me? Yes it does.

The graphics are okay, and I can run it at full speed on an average 2003 computer with an under-average 3D card. So performance-wise it runs fine on today's machines. There are some nice details, such as snow or rain that get stuck on the cameras. The sound effects are not as good as the graphics, however: there are lots of clicks that could have been polished.

As with all simulators, the learning curve is high, especially for those who want to ride the Orient Express which is a steam locomotive. However, the all-electric Acela Express is easy to learn and you'll have a lot of fun driving it.

Now let's get to the community that this game spawned.

For those who take the game really seriously, Microsoft wisely included a load of building tools to let train buffs design their own tracks and scenery. I haven't tried them, but many designers used these tools to build what are called "Virtual Railways". These virtual railways are online clubs reserved to selected members that travel and maintain TS railways. That's way, way cool and it shows the extent of dedication by some users, but it takes too much time for me to consider joining.

Look for an add-on pack with more tracks and locomotives, while some people also sell their own tracks online.

The Bad
The 100 page or so .pdf file that is included as a documentation is limited in depth. Although it gives a lot of technical details on the locomotives, it doesn't really help you driving them. The tutorials are therefore a must and while they're better than nothing, I find them limited as well.

Interior views of the trains are boring and the cabins are always empty. It would have been nice to include some people in there, even unanimated, for more realism.

The exterior camera view of the train is also severely limited, since you can't use any angle that's too much close to the horizontal angle. This is obviously a clever trick by the designers that prevents having to draw to the horizon, since you always look down. Some games used fog in the old days to hide the horizon, but instead in TS you end up with limited exterior camera angles.

The Bottom Line
A definitive must for any train buff. But people not into trains will definitely find this simulator not really exciting.

Windows · by Olivier Masse (443) · 2003

An excellent game.

The Good
Everything.

Let's start with the graphics. They are simply amazing. When you have the full graphics setting, set to the max on every option, with full-screen anti-aliasing turned on, the game looks just about as good as if you were staring at a train yourself. The smoke effects (both from brakes squealing and your train starting up) look just as good as the trains themselves. Trees, buildings, cars, distant mountains; they all look wonderful.

The cab's look great too. Almost every control you see you can activate, be it the bell, horn, throttle or brake. There are working gauges as well, and the speedometer accurately represents your actual speed. Brake pressure, throttle level, electricity (electric trains only), etc. Everything works.

The learning curve is steep, which means you will get a lot of replay value out of the game. Just try driving a Flying Scotsman (the most famous steam locomotive) and stopping it as need be!

The game comes with a track and route editor, so you can create your own crazy combinations of track throughout any of the locales the game offers you.

The Bad
The game engine. Although it looks great, the minimum advertised requirements are a joke. The computer I first installed the game on was a P3 800 with a GeForce2 GTS, and at 800x600, it was horrible to play without having the options set to performance over graphics. If you don't have a powerful system, you'll have to sacrifice a LOT of eye candy to play this.

The activities (read missions) are a complete waste. Sure, they add to the challenge, but they seem to have been thought up at the last minute. Also, some activities take up to and including three hours to complete; who's going to play this type of game that long in a row?

The Bottom Line
If you enjoyed the other Microsoft sim products (Flight Simulator, Combat Flight Simulator), you'd probably like this too. But be forewarned; the basic concept is drive, stop, pick up passengers, drive, stop, drop off passengers, and follow the posted signs.

To all others, it'll probably seem boring unless your a train enthusiast.

Windows · by JPaterson (9484) · 2003

Trivia

Development

Microsoft didn't include any major crashes (just derailments) because the train manufacturers wouldn't allow it. They claimed that on-screen representations of crashes makes their real life trains look bad.

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Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 4233

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Drew Dorton.

Additional contributors: JPaterson, Shoddyan, Patrick Bregger.

Game added June 5th, 2001. Last modified December 2nd, 2023.