TRANSPORT SIMULATION UK

Loksim 3D - Review


INTRODUCTION

It's been a while since I played Loksim but I must admit on revisiting the programme for this short review I found myself thoroughly enjoying the train driving experience on offer. The programme is a German orientated cab view driving simulator and is distributed as freeware by the author and contributors. Good news for non-German speakers is that an English version is available, albeit the main manual is still in German with some rudimentary quickstart instructions. The basic programme installs one route and electric locomotive, however the Loksim site contains downloads and links to other routes and motive power to extend the simulation. System requirements are fairly modest - the documentation recommends a minimum 800Ghz processor and a 3D graphics card. Versions are available for Windows XP and older Windows editions - not known if Vista is supported. On my 6600 Core 2 Duo PC with Geforce 7600GT card, running at 1024 x 768, the simulation ran very smoothly, no judder, stuttering or pausing evident.

GRAPHICS

Graphics are very good, slightly better than BVE and indeed almost on a par with MSTS and Trainz. Of course with the view restricted to that out the cab front fewer items need to be included along the route as opposed to simulations which allow you to view the train externally or from the lineside. The purists would argue that in a driving sim you have no business being outside the cab in the first place and certainly barrelling along at 110 km/h the graphics in Loksim convey just the right impression of detail and speed. You can drive a route at any time of the day, including night time.


Squealing Round A Sharp Curve

At Speed in Open Country

There is no dynamic scenery though static trains and rolling stock are positioned at strategic locations as you drive. Driving some of the more recently created routes I was struck by the quality of some of the 3D items - trees with leaves on them (just about visible in the screenshots) and lush lineside overgrowth would certainly tax the veteran "Big Two" sims.

SOUND

I have to say the sound support in Loksim is excellent - a feature which has if anything improved from last time I tried the programme. The traction sounds are spot on, whether it's an electric loco, one of the big diesel hydraulics or a diesel railcar. As you bring the train to a stand, the brakes squeal and the air system hisses. The cab environment is complemented by a full suite of track sound - rail joints (where appropriate), rattle across pointwork/junctions and the grinding squeal rounding a sharp corner.

PHYSICS AND MOTION

Acceleration and braking characteristics of the motive power I tried seemed reasonable and what one would expect - no sudden stops or rapid acceleration - in fact final braking to a stop for stations and platforms is quite tricky. With the train in motion there is a dynamic and subtle cab dip and sway - a feature which greatly aids the sensation of actually being in a moving train. One touch which shows attention to detail is that releasing brakes on a gradient does cause the train to roll back, you need to focus at which point the brakes are released and the throttle can be engaged.

OPERATIONS

You select the particular route you wish to drive, the motive power, timetable/start time and departure point. The simulation will then load though it should be noted on the routes I tried, warnings were generated regarding missing items. One assumes these must be downloaded separately to the actual route packs, however in all cases the route still loaded. Fast forward to departure time, start the engine (nice touch!) and off you go. Well actually don't forget to close the doors depending on the traction. An onscreen display shows details of upcoming speed restrictions and the next station stop. The German signalling system and ATP/ATC ("Indusi" as it is known) are strictly enforced by the game and failure to acknowledge warnings or comply with speed reductions will kick in a penalty brake application. In fact I found I was getting Indusi generated emergency stops for no apparent reason, a slight problem I had once before when playing Loksim. Luckily the game is reasonably tolerant of errors and you don't get kicked off for minor errors - even over-running stations or rolling back, though I believe you do get canned for passing a red signal. At the end of a run you simply get a message that the simulation is complete, no assessement, score or career mode.

OTHER FEATURES

Loksim is supplied with a route editor but this is untested by myself at the present time so no real opinion can be offered on its ease of use or otherwise. However the fact a number of third party routes have been created would indicate the utility has been mastered and is most effective at producing results.


My Favourite - The Swedish Fiat Y1 Railcar

CONCLUSIONS

What can I add but that Loksim 3D is thoroughly recommended - it has much to offer the train sim enthusiast and includes some features which never made it into the big commercial sims. If you're the type of player who roams outside the cab then the fixed forward view may seem limited but, as I said at the beginning, that is how trains are meant to be driven. Nevertheless perhaps future versions might include additional camera views - regardless of what I just said it is nice to pop into external view now and again. So far as replay value is concerned, each route has several timetable options to explore and once you've driven during the day why not try a night run! There's plenty of motive power to choose from on the Loksim site, though slightly less in the way of new routes - as already pointed out in the Rail 3D review the plethora of good train sims we now enjoy has had the unfortunate by-product of diluting the talent amongst the various programmes and (perhaps) the tendency to go for glory by creating for MSTS or Trainz rather than one of the smaller - but perfectly enjoyable - other programmes.

Loksim 3D Website

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(This page created 05/10/07 and last updated 31/07/08 - Link updated).