App Reviewed on: iPhone 4
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If there were one genre in gaming that was hard to understand, it would have to be occupational simulations. Why one would want to emulate driving a sixteen wheeler or train is baffling to say the very least. While you're at it, why not create a game where you're a bank teller for ten hours a day at minimum wage? Personal confusion aside, there has been a long thriving love of train simulations that has existed on PC. It was only a matter of time before it bubbled over onto iOS. Is Trainz Driver a load worth pulling out of the station, or is it better left in the yard?
When it comes to simulations there are usual two different types, over-the-top amusing or hardcore emulation. In the case of Trainz Driver it is far more of the latter than the former. The game is very much about the minutia train conducting, all the way down to a first person camera planted directly in the cockpit of the hulking mass of machinery. Thankfully there is also a second, more casual friendly version of the control scheme that is far more approachable for the uninitiated.
At its core, Trainz Driver attempts to bring an experience that previously been reserved for PC and iPad gamers and transplant the core driving mechanics into a more bite sized form. A healthy tutorial will give players a steady diet of mechanics, in easily digestible slices. It wouldn't be advisable to start off in the simulation or arcade modes without completing these extremely necessary courses. Without putting forth the time to learn, most missions will feel like trying to arm wrestle an octopus.
The game is be broken up into tutorials, simulation and arcade modes. Simulation is going to be where the meat of the actual gameplay resides, however, it can be pretty amusing to take Arcade mode out for a spin all in the name of causing as much mayhem as possible.
Despite the gameplay itself proving to be surprisingly gratifying, even for skeptics, there is one area where the title needs serious help: visuals. The art assets are mediocre at best, and hearken back to an era when PC game sizes were measured in measured in megabytes instead of gigabytes. Even when compared to most other games on the iOS platform, it does not hold up well at all.
Trainz Driver lives up to its name well. Thankfully it wasn't named "Trainz Driver HD," otherwise it would have been in trouble. All snark aside, it is the perfect compliment for Trainz Simulator on iPad. If you are looking for a title to scratch A coal-hauling itch, this is the right station to pull into.