Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 11/02/03 | Genre: Simulation
Trainz Railroad Simulator 2004 is a sim that's dedicated to one thing, and one thing only. Trains. No budgeting, no competition with other industries, no crazy balancing of interests. The guys at Auran are interested in only one thing, and that is those crazy trains. Be sure and count how many times I use that word in this review, because I imagine it's going to be a lot.
TRS2004 is focused on the driving and routing of rollingstock(bet you thought I was going to say trains.). You can create routes on the pre-made tracks, create your own fantasy train set, take up the daunting task of driving one of the behemoths from the inside, or just kick back and control it like you would your electric model set. This being a very comprehensive and complex sim, you're going to lose a bit graphics department. This isn't the latest and greatest in pixel shading, but it renders the environments and equipment well. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the sights that roll by your window in the in-cab driver mode. Well, that is if you're not wrestling with that ?Äòdang, new-fangled, lap break contraption!' Oh, don't worry about that. Driver speak ya know.
Had the publisher gone to the trouble of printing all of the extensive documentation included with the game, they'd have had to tack $30 onto the price. The .PDF files included on the disc are very comprehensive, and deserve a look or four if you're serious about getting into the game.
Playing with the included environments is great, and you'll spend a lot of time learning the ins and outs of taming the Iron Horse in them. The real fun of the game is creating your own environment and routes. The sandbox mode in the game is so simple you'll be surprised by the level of articulation you can achieve in your world. I don't know this for a fact, but I'm quite sure the developers used this same interface to design the included maps. It's capable of everything you see in them.
The included textures, objects, tracks, and trains are enough to keep you busy for weeks. Luckily for you die-hard train lovers, there's even more available online. Games like Trainz are known to develop loyal and productive communities, and it is no exception. The developers are very proud of the Trainz fan-base and have made it easy to include third party objects.
Overall, TRS2004 is a great railroad sim. This isn't the Lionel set you got for Christmas when you were 10, but for the train lovers who still take that little, plastic locomotive to bed with them, it's a natural progression. The only thing closer than this game to driving a real train is driving a real train. Due to the focused subject matter, and level of complexity, this isn't going to be the hit of the year, but rest assured that it's a hit with railroading enthusiasts everywhere.