Trainz: The Complete Collection
There’s something of a stigma attached to locomotive enthusiasm, and Trainz really does nothing to help alleviate that indignity. It’s as exhaustive, technical and downright steady as any trainspotting hobby ought to be, though at least it provides an unexpected 200-plus hours of gameplay for the right ferroequinologist.
Any such ‘rail fan’ gamer is likely to already own the collection in part, as this compiled re-release doesn’t contain any new content. It combines the games Trainz, Trainz 2004 and Trainz 2006, along with the add-on packs Trainz Routes 1 – 4, Ultimate Trainz Collection and Trainz Paintshed. The huge extent of this compilation pretty much ensures that every facet and possibility in train simulation is encyclopaedically covered, and it’s unlikely any enthusiast (regardless of how dedicated they might be) could ever get through it all. This means you can rest safe in the knowledge that the game is good value for money. For those who are curious but have never seen a Trainz game in action, the title isn’t at all ambiguous – this is a train sim, and involves driving to and from destinations, building tracks and conducting networks.
Despite the sedate nature of such tasks, there are elements of Trainz that can appeal to most gamers. Arriving at a destination on time – neither early nor late – is a delicate matter. Get ahead of schedule and you find yourself way off course with little or no way to get back, as conductors switch routes at very specific times for different trains. Pulling into a station bang on time after a long journey is surprisingly satisfying, and the gargantuan list of different routes and train types (all of which sport different controls to master) means there’s never going to be a lack of challenges.
Where the game (nay, entire collection) falls down is on audio and visuals. The locomotives themselves look fine, but the plethora of uninspired, box-like vistas simply doesn’t make good sightseeing. This is a crying shame, as it could have been a genuinely absorbing feature of the games.
It’s hard to imagine Trainz retaining the interest of non-metrophiles, and it’s unlikely to replace a model railway for those who are immersed in this particular pastime.