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Review: World Of Subways Vol. 4
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Welcome to the primary metropolitan transportation choice for New Yorker's besides walking, the subway! I am Justin Cogo and I am pleased to be reviewing World of Subways Volume 4 - Line 7!
My experience with simulators is mainly flight simulators with a good amount of train simulator experience as well. As a present I got my first flight simulator, Flight Simulator 98, when I was 11 and I have been hooked on simulators (and related games) since. I have found train simulators detail and realism very comparable to flight simulators over the years which is why I like them not only as a training tool but as something to do for fun. The train simulators I have experience with are Microsoft Train Simulator, Train Simulator and World of Subways.
My experience with the World of Subways series includes playing with World of Subways Volume 1 - New York PATH route, which I found very fun and realistic. I have visited New York but travelled there across country by airplane and did not experience the subway system, but I am aware of its vast expanse and density. I am also interested in the New York subway because of its great size and New York's amazing culture.
AerosoftWorld of Subways Volume 4 - Line 7 is distributed and published by Aerosoft. Aerosoft is of course known for its high-quality add-ons. World of Subways Volume 4 - Line 7 does not stray from this pattern of quality.
TML StudiosThe creators of the World of Subways series is TML Studios. TML Studios has created bus simulators, train simulators and other types of simulators. All off their products are very realistic to their real-world counterpart and fun for any enthusiast. Aside from playing the first World of Subways Volume 1 - PATH, I've played Bus & Cable Car Simulator and have found them very life-like and fun!
World of Subways SeriesThe World of Subways series of games puts attention to detail on a single section of a subway, unlike 'big' simulators that cover different areas or vast expanses. This gives you an immersive experience even people that truly know these areas can attest to. The World of Subways series is comprised of four volumes, each covering a single area of a subway system. The four volumes are:
World of Subways Volume 4: New York Line 7World of Subways Volume 4 - Line 7 recreates Line 7 of the New York City Subway system and is set in the time period of the 1970's. During this time, just after the 1960's, the music and arts culture was molding, becoming new and racy. Crime ran high and the subways suffered from graffiti and of course bellbottoms. Line 7 runs from Queens to Manhattan and is a very busy route, even requiring an express train to run alongside a local train during rush hours!
United States seen from space
Getting Started PlayingAfter opening the game the way to get started is to first create a new game, which you can then save and continue where you left off. Each different game you create saves missions, settings and interaction status with certain employees.
Once a new game has been created or you've continued a previous game you're sent to the depot where all game playing begins. Different ways to play the game are:
The DepotThe Depot is a fully interactable 3D moveable environment where game playing is initiated and where one can view different sights and departments of the subway's administration facilities. You are put at the depot after creating or continuing a game. Different areas of the depot house the Director's Office, Staff Office, Canteen, Workshop and Kitchen. Company employees populate the depot and can be interacted with. Other depot details include working doors, burning flames in the kitchen and lit welding tools that mechanics use on the trains in the workshop. As you walk around the depot to play the game you are also given a real-life experience of how a train administration building works! Physically the depot is situated on Line 7 at the Flushing/Main Street end of the route. The route's tracks extend up to the depot where trains are worked on.
The depot is shown via diagram
TutorialIn the depot, to learn how to drive a train you'll need to complete a tutorial which takes you through setting the train up to drive, leaving the depot and driving along the route stopping at stations. To get to this menu you'll need to go into the 'staff' office at the depot. Once in the staff office you talk to the Shift Supervisor sitting at the chair, interact with him and a menu opens giving you options for either starting the tutorial, driving a train on schedule or driving a train right away.
Driving the Train on SchedulesTo just drive a train you can either create a specific situation with your own choice of game settings including:
The other way to driving a train is to use the 'Quickstart' feature which put you at Times Square in a train immediately. Both of these menus are available after interacting with the shift supervisor.
MissionsIn this simulation there is the option of going on a mission, which recreates a realistic subway situation which you must complete. There are eight general missions and one bonus mission. The missions span different times of day, weather situations and tasks that must be completed from finding a bomb planted on a subway train to installing lights in a dark train station.
Missions are started by interacting with a subway employee in the depot. These employees are either in a certain location or walking around the depot and you must interact with them to begin the mission. Each mission has its own backstory which the depot employee you interact with will gladly explain to you. These missions bring real-life scenarios to the game and make you feel like you're really working for the subway.
Aspects Of The Train LineThe following are aspects of the subway line in the game:
TrainsIn the subway system the trains included that drive on the subway are the R36/R33 - "Redbird" trains. These trains run on electricity via a 'third rail' sitting adjacent to the two main rails. These trains are around 51 feet long and can reach a top speed of 55 mph. The trains are painted in a red color to deter graffiti. Wear and tear as well as examples of this vandalism can be seen on station walls. In this World of Subways you are able to walk about the train and train stations seamlessly. For instance you can be on the platform and walk right on the train, up to the drivers cab and drive the train. Another cool feature is AI trains which I'll talk about later.
The trains are textured with highly detailed textures, even showing the rivets making up the train body. The metal top of the train is also realistically shiny when it is sunny out. The insides of the train are nicely modeled and textured according to real world specifications. Inside of the subway car details include seats, passenger handles, advertisements and subway maps, making the inside of the train feel real.
The drivers cab is textured in a detailed fashion and includes all the real buttons, handles, and other train controls and indicators. The controls, buttons and indicators move when interacted with and display their true indication as you play the game.
In the 1970's these subway trains required both a driver and a conductor. The driver's job is pretty straightforward, but the conductor performed a special job that you can actually play in the game. The doors of the train can be controlled either by the driver or conductor, so when playing the conductor you can open the conductor's window, look out and down the tracks, and have control of the doors and buzzer. You can switch between being the conductor and driver cabins by using the 'F10' key. There is an option when starting the route to have an AI conductor automatically open and close doors when you arrive and are scheduled to depart stations as well.
For driving or conducting the train, there is a pop-up window that gives you train and route status beneficial for playing. In this time period (1970's), the trains were not computerized and relied upon analog gauges or status information. The conductor would have a paper schedule and some kind of other simple electronic piece of equipment to help in his train duties. In this game three beneficial pop-up windows give you this information:
Local & Express RouteLine 7 of New York Subway runs from Queens to Manhattan. In the screen shot below you can see a diagram of the entire New York City subway (circa 1970's). Line 7 is pointed out running from the NE (Queens) to the West (Manhattan). Line 7 is 15km long and has 21 stations in which some are above ground and some underground. You will also see other subway lines of this system intersecting Line 7 at certain stations.
The subway stations are very diverse and very detailed. The World of Subway series is known for its detail and this volume does not disappoint. Stations also show the culture of their time with graffiti lining some walls of some of the stations and a grimy appearance in certain areas. Stations' style and realism looks close to their real-world counterparts and it has been fun to wander around the stations and just view some of the architecture and style. Paying real attention to detail some stations even follow the engineering in real life, for example one station is not flat and curves up and around in the center. There are some really nice wall advertisements and station signage as well that are custom to each station. Out of the 21 stations there are a few that are very similar, but this is just how it is in the real world. Yet there are other stations that have great style and offer a great viewing experience.
Two types of routes exist on Line 7, the Local Route and the Express route. Both routes run the entire length of the line, but whereas the Local route stops at every station the Express route stops at fewer stations. The express route also has its own 'separate' tracks allowing it to bypass the local routes stations and tracks. The express route only runs during morning and evening rush hours when demand is heavy.
TracksThe tracks of the subway line are highly detailed. Track nails and fasteners are visible, as well as the third rail. One thing I noticed was that you can explore the track area but won't get electrocuted when walking over the third rail. Other track details include working track signals, track signage, staircases for walking up to the platform areas, and even tunnel lights (blue lights) for lighting up special areas of the track system.
Train YardThe train yard is a part of the Line 7 system and connects 'The Depot' with the subway line on the Flushing/Main Street area of the line. You can drive from the train yard but only in tutorial mode as far as I've tried.
Dynamic PeopleIn this game there are dynamic people that move around the game. In 'The Depot' they can be interacted with and are the starting point for missions. On the subway line there are other train drivers you can interact with when beginning or changing shifts, and there are train passengers that use the subway.
The train passengers wait at train stations and ride on the train. They move from the platform to the subway train when you open the train doors. The passengers are in high number so it feels like a real immersive subway. Adding to the realism, passengers even sit themselves down in a realistic fashion once they get on the train, of course that is if there is an available seat. Going along with the 70's, the passengers are dressed in this period's style, featuring bell bottoms and colors / shapes typical to this era and occasionally you'll see people in suits.
AI TrainsIn this game AI trains populate the tracks in both directions and even queue up behind you if you're stuck at a station. The AI trains also are rideable which makes for a fun experience if you'd like to just play the part of a passenger and have the ability to get off at any station you like, and at some stations, walk to the other side of the station and catch the train going in the opposite direction.
WeatherIn this World of Subways series the weather is customizable and there are some nice precipitation features only recently seen in video games this day in age. The weather can be changed between sunny, cloudy, foggy, rainy, and snowy. Rain and snow can be seen falling from the sky and when it snows the ground is visibly covered in snow. Another highly technical feature is rain that falls on the windshield of the drivers cab. As the drivers cab is pelted with rain you can activate the windshield wiper and see the rain being scraped off the window!
Extra / Small Scenery DetailsThroughout the subway route there are many small details all over the place to be seen. One I think was really cool was graffiti fitting the time era of the 1970's. There are many small scenery details like signs, track signals, trash filled containers, station equipment, advertisements and subway route diagrams that are actually readable as well. I think one of the best features are the stairs linking the subway platform to the track level so you can walk around the tracks themselves and explore.
Surrounding SceneryLastly, this subway simulation not only includes the trains and station features but city scenery. Surrounding the stations and all areas of the line are city features with populated scenery. There are buildings, roads and moving road traffic all over the place. At night road traffic lights up the streets with white and red lights too! Another big scenery item is Shea Stadium which is situated next to the Mets/Willets Point station. It can be seen from the station and has pretty good detail for being just an extra piece of scenery.
My Computer Specifications:
PerformanceWith my computer I seem to have good performance with most games that are out now and I'm able to turn the game settings up. I had good performance with World of Subways Volume 4: Line 7 with the settings at maximum. With enhanced game details like swaying train cars, weather effects, seamlessly connected game areas (station platform, train car, drivers cab) with no loading in between, dynamic passengers and AI trains, the performance is above what I expected and makes for smooth game playing.
Gameplay & Technical SummaryWorld of Subways aims to recreate a specific area of a subway system, focusing on high detail and an immersive experience to show you what it was like and how it feels to be there. I think they did a good job recreating Line 7 of the New York subway from the 1970's. I can talk to subway workers dressed in clothes of that time period, see graffiti strewn about the Hunters Point station, and feel like I'm really in this area of New York during this time period.
This game has a small learning curve which doesn't take much to get over. The technical beauty of the game is great to behold once you get to know the game and its intricate details. For instance at first you feel like you're just driving from station to station and "what's the point"? Then you realize there are hundreds of passengers waiting at your stations, you're under time constraints, the weather may not be cooperating and as you look out over the tracks there is a bustling city below you with many sights to see along the way. There are some real-world sights to see if you want to get off the train and explore the stations, which all are fairly unique, especially the underground stations. After I got this game and realized it was set in the 1970's time period I decided to figure out what it was like on the subway during these years. After watching The Warriors, about street gangs of New York fighting each other and using the subway for transportation I started to see some of the style and architecture of the 70's come out in the game. I really feel like I'm in the 70's when I play this game and I get a big feeling of nostalgia when playing it as I travel through the vast expanse of Queens, where it feels like the stations never end and apartment complexes flood the horizon.
This is a game I'd play again and again so I could pretend like I'm in the 70's in New York or just experience the intricate details of trains. This game is as good as other World of Subways volume's I've played and definitely not your run of the mill train simulator. It aims to create a specific experience for you in depth. I really like it and think you will too.
This article first appeared on www.trainsim.com
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