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Rail Simulator review

We attempt to join the real steam community


  • It's a great rail simulator!
  • Drawing dirty pictures with tracks
  • It's peaceful and serene


  • Uglier than it should be
  • Assumes too much knowledge
  • Tutorial and instructions don't help

You want us to make a joke? You think rail simulators are funny? You think the idea of recreating a largely event-free one-dimensional journey is absurd? Why not think of it as Half-Life, without the excellent narrative or the satisfying combat? There you go. That's made you all excited.

Your first hour in Rail Simulator might run like this: you jump in, expecting an in-game tutorial, and utterly fail to move anything. So you slide the quick reference card into the gap above your number keys. But this will fail too, because knowing how to change the reverser isn't the same as knowing what you're supposed to do with it. So, after 20 minutes of turning your wipers on and off, you're forced into reading the manual. Which is something no human has done since Civ 2. And that's the biggest disappointment. The manual is lacking.

It tells you how to get moving, but when it comes to the expert controls on a steam engine, the game and the manual assume you're one of the living dead that litter the platforms of backwater rail stations noting wheel numbers of passing locomotives. When the hell should we "inject water," eh? We don't drive steam trains for a living.

More Info

DescriptionIt's good that Rail Simulator has been made, and it's a strangely satisfying and therapeutic experience.
US censor ratingEveryone
UK censor rating3+
Release date16 January 2008 (US), 12 October 2007 (UK)