|a game by||Auran Games|
|Editor Rating:||8/10, based on 1 review|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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Trainz 2004 is an upgraded and enhanced update of the successful Trainz release two years ago. It's a complete package, not an add-on, and there's enough new here to attract owners of the earlier title. In Trainz 2004, the train fan, whether casual or committed, needs look no further to indulge their passion.
The product retains all the pluses, ease of use and beauty noted by my colleague reviewer a few years back, and a lot more. It's all here, the authenticity, controls, the dramatic vistas, and now there're products and passengers to give more substance to the experience of learning about, driving and collecting great engines and their rolling stock.
The main menu now offers the Driver and Scenarios choices for train play, Surveyor for scenario creation, the Railyard for viewing your collection of cars and locomotives and the Trainz Exchange, a direct link to online resources. Two modes of control are available, the Digital Command Control (DCC) presents an easy-to-use HUD-style interface much like the controls of a miniature model train set, with a simple dial for forward and back throttle control. Cab mode gives you direct mouse-click 3D interactive control over the very levers and switches that control the meticulously reproduced virtual locomotives. This is a much more involved way of driving the trains, especially for the tricky and temperamental steam engines. In either mode, not all driving need be done from in the cab; the keyboard can be used for control from the outside views.
Trainz 2004 might easily be regarded as a double simulation, of both the real world of train driving and the miniature world of model train layouts. The Surveyor tool is one of the best -- if not the best -- map/scenario editor yet seen. It has a platform feel and indeed could be used as a planning tool for a home set-up. Maps can be set-up in the various model scales (HO, N, etc.). A measure of the product's comprehensive nature might be the fact that one of the provided third-party object sets is a mix of wooden toy trains, track and decorations, much like the Brio or Thomas the Tank Engine sets popular with young children.
Through the interactive industries system, waybills are generated for commodities to be moved between and among the various facilities on the map. For instance, you might move logs from the logging company to the chipping plant for reduction to wood chips and then move the chips to the pulping mill. It's not a managing sim where you build a city, but more a scheduling and logistics exercise, guiding and switching the trains involved in a regional economy.
The Railyard is for your collecting effort. Here you can view the engines, cabooses and rolling stock that you have accumulated. The basic set starts you off with a good mix. And while there is no multiplayer gameplay, there is a thriving user community for 3rd party content and support, as you might imagine in a hobby matchless over the years for the passion of its adherents. And a long as there are bright products like Trainz 2004 around, the passion will never fade.