It’s that disgusting commute in the summer; the sticky heat rises up your neck as you chug along at a snail’s pace due to an earlier signal failure. There are no seats left because you just gave yours up to a suspicious looking old woman, and the carriage is starting to get a little too cramped for your liking as a large man squeezes into the very little space at the next stop, fear not.
The Underground is a mode of transport that more people bemoan than appreciate, but a new simulator has been brought onto the market thanks to Excalibur Publishing that allows you to appreciate the Tube Line from the comfort of your own home, and whether you adore the Underground trains or not, this is one game that true simulator fans should not miss out on.
World of Subways London Underground Simulator is a bit more demanding than your standard simulator, but with good reason. If you are a nut when it comes to the London Underground you will not find a more perfect recreation of the C-stock and the stations that the Circle Line pass through; without actually visiting them yourself.
World of Subways London Underground is a wholly realistic representation of the Circle Line, this isn’t an arcade simulator, this is a proper rail simulator, and as the driver, you are responsible for everything. I mean absolutely everything; when you arrive at your cab you’ll need to put on your tail lights, select the destination board, run the DVA announcements, adhere to all speed limits and signals, turn on the ventilation, announce the closed stations to passengers, you can even remind them that smoking is not permitted.
To top it all off, London Underground Simulator also supports the RailDriver Desktop Cab Controller; the second coolest game peripheral only second to Steel Battalion's cockpit controller. The Cab Controller is almost fully supported by World of Subways, the only feature that it does not support unfortunately is the DVA programming, which has to be performed manually.
The game consists of eight missions; thankfully one of them is a standard tutorial mission that shows you the ropes, if it were not for this, without prior knowledge of the Underground C-Stock you would be completely lost. In the tutorial you’ll be shown the procedures that a train must go through before heading out for duty, as well as the best way to carry out the nerve-racking passenger duty.
The rest of the missions are the standard scenarios that you would expect of a train driver; keeping up to schedule after a signal failure causes a backlog of traffic on the lines, taking over someone else’s schedule, there’s even the scenario where bridge maintenance enforces a 15 mph speed limit throughout the line, they are all pretty entertaining for those that want a bit of structure to your simulators, however there’s another mode perfect for those that just want a bit of freeplay.
Missions are all well and good, but a true Underground fan is looking for the ability to take control over a tube and just drive around to a schedule. Well you’re in luck, because World of Subways London Underground doesn’t just allow you to take over the role of the driver, and drive to their schedule, it allows you to choose from the whole day’s worth of schedules; from 5 in the morning to the stroke of midnight, whichever route on whichever schedule, you’ve got the choice of hundreds.
Driving to Schedule puts you in the hands of whichever route you pick, and gives you the responsibility to stop at every station on your way, opening the doors, making announcements and adhering to the speed limits, however unlike the missions you will never fail (unless you derail or run a red signal), no matter how bad you perform, or what you do; the Circle Line is practically your oyster.
Unlike the missions, the Drive-to-schedule mode does give the player a brief rundown of their performance, including some handy pointers on where you could improve on your next shift, this was great, and it is a shame that this is the only real feedback you receive in the game.
I personally am no stranger to the Circle Line, a journey that I used to take often was Paddington to Liverpool Street, and to be honest I might as well have been on the train as I drove the 5:34 service punctually from station to station, having to remind the passengers that Blackfriars was closed. The horrible stigma of train fans is overweighed by the absolute awesomeness of what this game has achieved with both the realistic recreation, ability to do anything and being able to program your own DVA announcements!
World of Subways is really for those simulator fans that find love in the details, this isn’t a game per say, World of Subways is a true simulator; you will need to carry out absolutely everything that a real Underground driver would. This includes announcing the train’s termination, apologizing for delays, even running a break test and using the ever important deadman switch, the sheer detail that the game goes into is spectacular.
Now you may be familiar with the popular train sims out there, Railworks, or MSTS, well they do not have anything on World of Subways, not only are you ferrying passengers around, you can be a passenger. This is used in a few of the missions that require you to become a passenger and take the tube to the station that your schedule starts from, this features just shows how much TML Studios have recreated the Circle line with what is practically a living, breathing Underground Rail line.
World of Subways crosses the line that many simulation titles daren’t cross and includes human models, your train driver is represented by an avatar that looks as though he has a bit of a limp, and when characters talk they sway from side-to-side. Quite frankly, it’s not pretty, however most simulator fans know not to expect much, after all its the vehicles they want to play around with. Granted, the AI for the train passengers is actually pretty impressive for a simulator as you watch them run to the train as they attempt to make the train.
The only real issue with the game is that if you do have to play it with the lowest graphics settings, you may find that it is almost impossible to read the very small text present on all of the objects in the driver cab, eventually you get the hang of it, just like the slightly dodgy mouse control that is used to select button and dials in the cab. However with the backup of keyboard control on practically anything, it’s easy to overlook most of these issues, you get used to it, and after a short while the niggles are at the back of your mind.
World of Subways is a lovingly realistic recreation of the Circle Line of the London Underground, with the amount of detail that has gone into both the stations, and the trains, it sets the bar of train simulators, and is definitely one for the true hardcore sim crowd. Whilst the player models are not as fantastic as you might want, and there are a few small issues here and there, it is one of the best simulators out so far this year 4/5.
World of Subways London Underground Simulator will be available September 16th in all good retailers for the SRP of £29.99, this niche of a game is one that train fans will not want to miss out on, you can pre-order it already from the Excalibur Publishing website.