Train Simulator 2015 – Review

Title   Train Simulator 2015
Developer  Dovetail Games
Publisher  Dovetail Games
Platform  Windows PC
Genre  Simulation
Release Date  September 18, 2014

I have kind of an odd relationship with trains. On the one hand, they’re a relatively serene, mostly well-organised way to travel, with very few opportunities for things to go spectacularly wrong on your journey. And yet they’re also incredibly aggravating, filled to the brim with other people being noisy and irritating, and just generally being in my presence. Stick a group of people together for long enough and eventually they’ll want to kill each other. Train Simulator 2015, therefore, must only provide a good experience, since it cuts out the nuisance of human beings and focuses on the journey one must take. At least, that’s the theory.

I’d like to start by saying that, in essence, Train Simulator 2015 is the exact same game as Train Simulator 2014. The sexy new look is still there, the gameplay is exactly the same, and the trains are still trains. The biggest additions in terms of content are a new introduction video, a long-awaited full-sized tutorial section called the Academy, and it now comes bundled with three routes and six locomotives that were already available separately. I’m not sure that’s necessarily enough content to warrant a whole new release, but I suppose that’s the problem with putting years in your game’s title – miss a year and you’ll look foolish.

The new intro movie looks very slick and stylish, featuring a voice-over by professional fatality Sean Bean, who manages to miraculously sound nothing like himself and stay alive until the end of the video. It’s an incredibly schmaltzy affair, featuring choice lines like “quick! Read the signal! No room for mistakes!”, which is frankly laughable and feels slightly at odds with the more serious nature of the rest of the game. It’s more like a trailer for the game than an introductory video to get you excited for what you’re about to experience, and to be honest I’m glad it only appears during the first start-up under the new name.

The other new addition is the Academy mode, a training mode that is now about four years too late to really make an impact in drawing in new players. The mode gives you detailed breakdowns of all the controls, leading you step-by-step through all the different types of locomotives and how they work so that new players can really learn how to control the game and drive the trains effectively. It’s an impressive collection of tutorials that shows you how to use the buttons on the trains instead of the simplified overlay system I became accustomed to, which makes you feel like you’re actually controlling the train instead of just pushing floating levers. It’s incredibly useful but, as I say, to make any kind of impact for the franchise, it should’ve been introduced a long time ago. Still, with the right marketing and a bit of effort, this could be the addition to the series that finally draws in new players.

And really… that’s it. The rest of the game is exactly the same as it always was. The trains move realistically, providing a strangely serene way to pass the time as you watch virtual landscapes roll past you. It’s still a good-looking game, if a little dated in some scenarios due to them being made a few years ago on an older engine. Everything sounds the way it should. It’s still Train Simulator, and it’s still the best simulation of trains available on the market.

But if we were to review this new version based purely on its new content, it would be severely lacking. After the massive facelift that Train Simulator 2014 gave to the series, it was unlikely that the next yearly update would be as drastic, particularly given Dovetail Game’s attention now shifting to their upcoming fishing simulator. But a shiny new tutorial and Sean Bean just isn’t enough to constitute a whole new release, and a selection of other, smaller updates that I had to look at a Let’s Play video on YouTube to find any kind of notes on don’t add anything terribly new and exciting to the game. For newer players who are looking to break into the simulator environment, this is probably the best time to join in. But for seasoned veterans of the series, there’s nothing really here to write home about.

  • Finally, a comprehensive and detailed tutorial mode
  • Sean Bean survives his voice over
  • It's the same Train Simulator game you know and love
  • It's the exact same Train Simulator game you already own
  • Additional routes and locomotives have been available for months
  • Not enough to warrant a new release

When I was first asked to review the latest Train Simulator game, I was excited. I'd forgotten about the yearly releases and that a new one was due. But after the huge leap forward provided by the 2014 edition, Train Simulator 2015 left me hugely unfulfilled. It's still the same great train simulation that we all know, but the new additions just aren't enough to celebrate. The new Academy feature is brilliant, yes, but after about five years of the series being around, it's way too late to make any big splash in terms of drawing in a new crowd. It's a neat little update, but Train Simulator 2015 is nowhere near as much an improvement as its predecessor.

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One Comment

  1. bravewhip922 says:

    I don’t like this very much, its just a Menu Change and i don’t like that, its easy to get lost in, I like the Idea of the Academy as it gives people a chance to learn about the how different trains work and everything to do with the railway world that effects the driver, however i think it should have come on the first addition of the game (Rail Simulator C.2007) its only any good for people just coming into the Train Simulator and do not know much about the railways

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