Train Simulator 2014 from developer and publisher RailSimulator.com upgrades last year's edition of the game with various new features and improvements that are focused on both casual and veteran players. Notable additions to the game include three routes with London-Faversham High Speed, Donner Pass, and Hamburg-Hanover, career system, added editor tools, and Steam Workshop integration. In addition, improvements have been made to the game's graphics and performance. Train Simulator 2014 is a free upgrade to current owners of the game series as well as a replacement to previous versions.
Launching the game, veteran players will notice the completely revamped menu system that is far simpler to navigate through both returning and new options. The quick drive mode in particular is easier to simply select a locomotive and route and ready to play in a matter of seconds. The added career system constantly tracks the progress and achievement of players through playing the various scenarios. With the addition of downloadable content, even more achievements and goals are added for players. Experience points and bronze, silver, and gold stars can be earned by successfully completing scenarios without breaking any rules such as speeding and being behind schedule. The career system also allows players to view the progress of their friends through Steam if they also play the game.
Another major addition to this year's edition of Train Simulator is the introduction of Steam Workshop integration. Players can now subscribe to community-created scenarios, in addition to building their own through the in-game editor. While the editor has received a wealth of improvements and additional features such as Google Maps support, new players will still have to read through online tutorials before creating scenarios from scratch. Aside from community-created content, players can still browse through the extensive collection of official downloadable content that ranges from new locomotives to routes. Fortunately, the additional downloadable content is not required to enjoy the overall gameplay. Yet, it's unfortunate that the included selection of routes and locomotives in Train Simulator 2014 is quite small when in comparison with the downloadable content collection.
The experience of driving locomotives in Train Simulator 2014 stays relatively the same except for the addition of much-needed and improved tutorials that make the game far easier for new players. The career system does provide new incentives for completing the game's various scenarios, yet they are still just as challenging for beginners as everything from speeding to arriving late to stops is counted against the overall score. Making progress in the career system is often confusing as the game doesn't provide any guidance on which scenarios to complete in order. Still, experimentation is often what makes Train Simulator 2014 such a rewarding and addictive game to play as each scenario offers a unique set of goals.
Most noticeable when launching scenarios in Train Simulator 2014 are the significantly-reduced loading times when compared with last year's version. From players selecting the wrong scenario to changing their mind on the route, loading of new scenarios is both a simple and quick process. While the game's visuals were touted as receiving a significant improvement in the new version, the actual truth isn't as impressive. Some of the described additions such as improved draw distances are a welcome relief, yet much of the game looks exactly the same as last year's version. The overall graphical fidelity is often an uneven experience from highly-detailed locomotive interiors to lackluster environments. Fortunately, the game's performance has been improved dramatically which is sure to please veteran players.
Train Simulator 2014 might not be as major of an improvement as many veteran players were hoping for, yet the game still stands as the best train simulator available for gamers. This year's edition of the game further enforces that point with the new career system and integration of Steam Workshop support. The strong focus on creating a game that's far more welcoming to casual players is a great addition to the series. Yet, more could still be done to streamline the overall experience such as tutorials for the editor and guidance for the career system. As well, the inclusion of additional locomotives and routes would have been preferred. Ultimately, Train Simulator 2014 offers not only a great introduction to new players, but also improves the overall experience for veteran players. Train Simulator 2014 proves yet again that the simulation genre isn't going anywhere.
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