Train Simulator 2014: Steam Edition – PC
Release Date: Sep 26, 2013
Genre: Simulation
Reviewed by Brice Boembeke

Review Score: 4 of 5

Exactly a year ago, I sat down in front of my computer and incredulously began my review of a copy of Train Simulator 2013. I went into the review not quite believing the concept of the game or understanding why anyone would want to play it. A short time later, I understood.

The Train Simulator series is one of few annually upgraded series that I don’t immediately abhor. Instead of forcing players to pay for the upgrade to 2014, if you already own a copy of Train Simulator, you will find that Steam automatically upgraded your copy to Train Simulator 2014 at the end of September. Along with this upgrade comes all of your previously owned content – engines, tracks, whatever – it all comes along for the ride, and it all gets a nice little graphical overhaul and upgrade.

With the new year comes a few new features, but overall the core fundamentals of the game remain the same. Therefore, I’m not going to go into those core mechanics in this review. If you’re interested in them, you can check out my review for the 2013 edition, because my base opinion of the game remains, for the most part, the same.

The game runs smoother and seems more polished now than its predecessor. The UI is a little sleeker with a few streamlines added here and there to make interface a bit smoother. There is also Steam Workshop support and a gigantic backlog of scenarios and missions for players to download and enjoy beyond the ones that come with the game.

The downside to Train Simulator that I talked about last year that has not changed is the ungodly amount of money that anyone could easily spend on this game to get all the additional trains and tracks that are offered through the store (and by “downside” I don’t mean to say that it is detrimental to the enjoyment of the game, only to the wallet). You can have a lot of fun playing with and enjoying the included trains and tracks that come with the base game, but you could easily slip down a very slippery slope of after-market purchases and micro-transactions. But, any collector, especially, one of model trains, should not be surprised. I’m sure that anyone who would shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars to build a model train set in their basement would also be glad to purchase hundreds or thousands of dollars of equivalent digital merchandise to complete their collection. Especially when the developers of this game have shown that they don’t intend on taking back all your purchased equipment when they upgrade the game each year…no, it all comes with you.

So, even though I can’t bring myself to buy any of the additional content, partly because I fear what would happen once I opened that little floodgate, I can’t bring myself to be angry with the developers for the financial model that they have followed. So, even though I call it a downside, I can’t fault the game for it.

For this game, as is indicative by the “We Are Rail Fans” marketing approach they have taken, is geared towards those who eat, sleep, and breathe trains. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who would love to have a model train set in their basement, but don’t have a basement to put one it. So this is the game for them. This is the game for anyone who has ever sat and marveled at the beauty and symmetry of a passing train. This game is for anyone who has ever heard the clickity clack of wheels on a track or the distant howl of a horn at night and wished to be riding that rail.

If you are one of these people and you haven’t yet purchased any previous copy of Train Simulator, now is the time. This train is a-rollin’ and you don’t want to miss it.