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Genre: Simulation
Min OS X: 10.5

Trainz Simulator Mac
October 31, 2011 | Steven Marx

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Mac OS X: 10.5 |†CPU: Core 2 Duo, Core i5, or better | RAM: 2 GB | HD Space: 20 GB Graphics:†nVidia or ATI graphics Card

Tested On:
OSX 10.6.8
i7 Quad Core iMac, 2.8 GhZ
ATI Radeon HD 4850, 512MB

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to drive a train? How hard it is to haul a long line of rolling stock up the Rockies? What would happen if you blew through a station at 60 mph? Well then, Trainz Simulator Mac (Trainz) might be the game for you. Although not so much a game as a simulation, Trainz gives you the chance to try your hand at running modern (and historical) trains. While the focus is on driving the trains and ferrying cargo from place to place, there is also opportunity for you to try and coordinate traffic on busy lines, build your own railroad lines, and even create worlds from the landscape to the rails, rolling stock and industry. Through online mulitplayer you can see if you can drive trains with the best of them and keep traffic running smoothly. While all these options can be a little overwhelming at times, for the true train fanatic this is railroad heaven.

At its heart, Trainz is a simulation of driving trains. You have access to a huge variety of engines and rail cars, environments to run them in, and scenarios to test your abilities. Everything is modeled with a nice degree of realism. As you might expect, this results in a rather large game, something to consider if you are trying to download it over a slow connection; the download was something like 3 GB which expanded into 7 GB on installation. You can also download additional models, scenarios and environments, so leave yourself plenty of space on your hard drive; those with solid state drives should be particularly careful.

Trainz ships with several tutorials which teach you the different methods of driving the types of trains youíll encounter most often. There are several methods for driving trains from extremely simplified to realistic, and the tutorials cover these well. I also happened to come across some older tutorials that delve into further aspects of the game, especially hauling cargo; it would be helpful if these tutorials, clearly made for earlier versions, were updated and included under the Tutorial pane of the program. Itís easy to feel lost when youíre done with the four driving tutorials and expected to jump into the game scenarios. The game does come with a .pdf manual, which I had high hopes for but was ultimately a disappointment. Much of it covered information in the tutorials while other long sections were devoted to multiplayer and a bit on driving steam locomotives. This information is no doubt helpful, but I was looking for something to help me get into the more complex scenarios involved in playing the game.

It does seem that the scenarios, or Sessions as theyíre called, tend to include instructions for what youíre expected to do which update nicely as you progress through each challenge. Some of my difficulties may have come from my initial expectations and background in train simulations. I come from a Railroad Tycoon background, and was interested in investigating this game because in reading about it I wasnít sure if it was similar or not. Itís not, and that may have been part of my problem, always wanting to force it to be something itís not. Several sessions I started and gave up on on the initial screen because just getting my engine into place and hooked up to the correct rolling stock seemed awfully complicated. Again, those interested in the nitty gritty of running and driving trains would probably find this great, and I kept hoping I would get into it more, because I am a big fan of railroads and wish we had better ones in this country.

After you finish the tutorials youíre ready to move onto the Routes section. Within this screen youíre given several built in routes, each with one or more sessions. This can be a little confusing, but essentially Routes are game environments including the terrain and all objects in it, railroad tracks and everything else you need to create the railroad world. The Sessions within the Routes contain the trains and industries youíll interact with to accomplish your goals. Once youíre in a session you have a set of instructions or goals to accomplish, which at the most basic level involved hooking your engine up to some cars, taking them to the correct place(s), and picking up and/or dropping off cargo and/or passengers. In some sessions you might also be responsible for running the rail yard instead of driving the train, making sure everything ends up in the right place. As you go through and finish different sessions, including the Tutorials, your ratings in different areas will increase. I didnít get far enough on any of them to see if anything changes once you achieve proficiency in these areas.

In addition to the built in Routes & Sessions, you can download more from the gameís website, in addition to having access to more of everything else: rail cars, environment objects, etc. And for those truly talented designers, you can create your own Routes and Sessions. This is an impressive amount of gameplay, but can also be overwhelming for someone coming to this new. In fact, the game generally seems designed for those who already know a lot about railroads either from general knowledge, working with model railroads, or earlier versions of the game. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but be warned with all the options and realism comes a price in a certain amount of complexity.


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