Brief Description

If you had or wanted a train set when you were a kid, if you were jealous of people who had an elaborate train set up in their home, or if you like trains and would like to play with them, then this is a must have game for you. Trainz is an excellent railroad simulation. Not a tycoon type game, but one where you can drive a train with cars and engines that you selected, through terrain that you built.

Game play and hints

The Ultimate Collection has two cds. The first has the basic Trainz with Surveyor (the terrain building part of the game), Driver (use a preset train or select your own with a terrain), Scenarios (you have work orders to fulfil) and My Collection (view your current rolling stock). The second cd has the Trainz Paintshop where you can paint any object along with some other things.

On your first install of the game, start with the Driver. Driver really gives you the feel that you are in charge of the train. Outside cameras can show the train from a tracking view and can be moved around with keyboard commands. There is also an interior camera which allows you to view the train from the drivers seat. There is landscape, cars, houses, etc you'll be able to admire as they pass. You have a number of preset options to try. Drive your train in the US, UK, Germany, the Alps, or a couple of different runs in Australia.

Surveyor allows you to create an elaborate place for your trains to run. You can start with one of the basic terrains and add roads, buildings and tracks to it. Or build your own landscape from the start. The game gives you an assortment of objects to add, and if you are basing your new landscape on one that exists, you'll get buildings, creatures and objects appropriate to that location.

Trainz allows people to log into the web site to exchange objects that they have created. So even though you get a fairly nice variety of cars to start with, using this can expand your collection even more. So if what you really want is a steam engine, you may have to go online to get it.

Gripes about Trainz

The paint shop wants to overwrite DirectX with an older version of at least one file. Most annoying.

Conclusion for Trainz

Highly recommended for train enthusists of all ages. No speed or coordination required, but each part of the package will take some time to learn to use properly. Fortunately, there are some short cuts that let you start fast without learning all the details.

Some final thoughts on the game.

My sister and I were given a train set for Christmas one year. This is effectively better, since it doesn't require as much effort to run and you get a lot more engines and cars to play with from the moment you install the package.

For me, this will probably be an occasional game. One that I'll indulge in from time to time, just to watch the scenary go by as I learn the more complex method of driving a train. And to see if I can derail it. I admire the fact that the rail cars have been decorated to match real trains from around the world. I've been on Queensland Rail (and seen the freight trains as well) and can verify that the cars for the Queensland trains are accurate.