Train Simulator 2 Impressions

We step aboard Microsoft Game Studios' E3 stand to take a first look at the sequel to Train Simulator.


Earlier today we took a trip over to Microsoft's E3 booth where, for the first time ever, Train Simulator 2 is being shown. The game will feature numerous improvements on its predecessor, the most significant of which would have to be the fact that the game now takes place in a living, dynamic world. As the Microsoft representative showing the game to us took our train past a station, for example, we could clearly see animated people walking around and waiting to board one of the new non-player trains that now frequent the railroads. Sticking around to see them board the train, we could even see that since we were driving on one of the new historical routes, all the people were in period costume. We could also clearly see road traffic of the time period driving around in an area beyond the station and, incidentally, abiding by all the real-life traffic laws in place.

Every aspect of Train Simulator 2 that we saw clearly demonstrated that UK-based developer Kuju is paying an awful lot of attention to detail and realism. The locomotives in the game, for instance, consist of up to 22,000 polygons in some cases, and since Microsoft and Kuju know their target audience well, we wouldn't mind betting that ever last rivet has been positioned exactly as it should be. That level of detail extends to the interiors of the trains as well, and in addition to being able to operate from the comfort of a fully realized 3D cab, you'll be able to visit the interiors of passenger carriages, including diner cars and the like. In all, the game will feature more than 100 different pieces of rolling stock. Truly dynamic weather and time-of-day lighting should also add a lot to the proceedings, although neither of these features had been fully implemented at the time of our demo.

Train Simulator 2, while targeted squarely at train enthusiasts, will also cater to newcomers to the genre through the inclusion of a much-simplified control method. While the standard controls of the game will require you to perform every action a real engineer would, the easy mode's controls will consist of nothing more than a forward button and a backward button, ensuring that even young children who like trains should be able to have a lot of fun with it. It will be possible, in most instances, to derail trains in the game, and while Microsoft has stated that the derailments will be more realistic than those in the original game, the company was eager to point out that there'll be no people dying in accidents, and that a number of their railroad company partners have requested that it not be possible to derail their trains.

Train Simulator 2 will ship with more than enough different trains and routes to keep most of you happy, but for those of you desperately wanting to re-create a particular journey in a particular locomotive, the game will also ship with a comprehensive editor package. We'll bring you more information on Train Simulator 2 as soon as it becomes available.

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