Abouot Transport Fever 2, a Trainz perspective


since 10 Aug 2002
Knowing my passion for all things trains, Sinterklaas was nice and put Transport fever 2 in my clompje this year. All of the following is from my Trainz perspective.

First, the visuals are fantastic and the animations of both people and scenery objects are very well done. The game allows for an extensive set of mods that can modify the actual game play as well as add new objects that can be placed and used, like the DLS. I used the plain vanilla version of the game, out of the box so to speak with only a few recommended mods. If any mods could address my comments, I’m not aware of them.Had a quick look at modding and it appears that a lot is possible, it is not a casual endeavour.

While new tracks are well integrated into the landscape and are relatively simple to place, making position adjustments can only be done by destroying and rebuilding. And that is for every object. Without any real measurement tools, everything is just eyeballed and approximate. Nice that catenary can be automatically placed but a fatal flaw is that they don’t follow a zig-zag path over the rails. Guaranteed to cause premature damage to the pickup shoes of all the pantographs.
While tracks appear procedural, there are no turnout blades at the junctions. There are no rail clips or chairs to hold the rails to the ties, they just lay on top of the them. The ability to place parallel tracks by just laying they near to the existing line is very handy. The signals are also very primitive. No advanced, diverging, absolute or permissive distinction.

The world is very small. The result is that they look like some of the best Philskene creations – beautiful table top layouts, albeit a large table but nowhere near the vast real-live distances we can build in Trainz. Cities and supply industries are so close together that it would be hard to justify a train service. Just as they get up to speed they have to slow down. Speaking of which, their acceleration and braking performance is phenomenal. With the short distances I suppose this is needed but very disconcerting to come barrelling into a station and stopping in the last several meters. Those passengers better have a really good grip on a solid support or they’ll all end up piled up near the front of the car. The same thing with cargo, lash it down really well or there will be a big mess at every stop. The instant reversals without the use of a Y are also weird.

You have to micro mange everything. A good thing the world is so small or there would be no time to revisit every town and industry to keep making adjustments.
One of the fun activities I enjoy after building my world is to hop in an engine and go for a ride. While you can sit on the front coupler of a train or front bumper of a road vehicle, that’s it. No going for a joy ride.

So is it worth it? As an interesting diversion and to see how some things could be done, it’s fun. To build a tabletop layout of your dreams it has great potential. Once built and programmed, you just get to sit back and watch except for all the micro managing. But to build and run an actual simulation of the real world, it leaves too much to be desired for my taste. Perhaps in future versions or in mods I have not found yet.
Sometimes it needs another game to see how good trainz is
i keep nagging about good animated passengers, but seems I talk to a wall lol
I have sunk hundreds of hours into TF2 (and waay more in TF1), so here's my mini review.

It's not meant to be a train sim in the traditional sense. You don't get to drive, heck, you don't even get to sound the horn. This is a straight up supply chain simulator, rail network management tycoon game. When viewed this way, it is outright amazing. What stands out to me above all is how stable it is, no matter how big your network is and how many mods and assets you throw at it. I've lost track of how many times I thought the game was glitched but it just turns out to be a tiny user error in the supply chain. And it never...ever...crashes. Locks up a bit when autosaving large games, but will happily chug along otherwise. N3V could really take a leaf out of this.

There are a ton of mods on Steam Workshop, some of which can tweak the gameplay to your liking. Martin's example of hard starts and stops; there's a "realistic accel/decel" mod for that. Precision tracklaying is also possible; check out the precision measurements mod that shows everything from length to gradient and radius. PC begging for mercy in late-game? There's a mod that will globally reduce the agent count. And so on.

However, the majority are "localization" mods, and golly they can get really specific. Modelling the UK and want a MkII coach in NSE colors but only from the early 80s and with Commonwealth bogies? There's a mod for that. You can build in most regions and expect a surprising amount of local content. Japan, China, UK, Europe, US, AU. It's not just trains - level crossings, infrastructure, tracks and stations, and of course cosmetic assets like trees and buildings. You can build quite a decent layout with this. That being said, it's not a very good city builder, for that you should really just get Cities:Skylines.

Way above all else and in extremely stark contrast to Trainz, is how TF handles audio, particularly tracksounds. Even in it's first release, the tracksound implementation is so awesome that sometimes you end up spending hours just sitting around stations or mainlines watching (and listening to trains) go about their routes. It's hard to describe this and you really need to hear it for yourself the jaw droppingly realistic screech, squeals and clickety clacks at all speeds, with separate sounds for trains from different eras and types. No abrupt cut-in/outs, no weird flanging, no stuttering, breathtaking variety. Listening to Trainz audio after a session in Transport Fever is akin to auditory torture.

Basically, if you want a bit of a mental workout while building a model-railroad-ish layout and having alot enjoyment in the process, get Transport Fever 2, sale or not. Along the way you'll appreciate the finer aspects of running a (profitable) railroad, supply chains, optimized tracklaying especially at junctions and stations, scheduling and line capacity management. There is very, very deep gameplay to be had here, and everything depends on a balance of multiple other factors to keep things running smoothly.

Did I mention there is zero DLC for this title?
Its a great Transport Tycoon type game. The best part of the game is that you can run the simulation with pausing the time/or slowing down time. This means that if you like a particular era you can just build up in that particular time period. I havent seen this in any other tycoon game. And there are plenty of steam workshop assets and mods to enhance you game even further. I would recommend trying out this game if you love transport tycoon type games or building networks/supply chains.
My follow up after two weeks with TF2. As an inveterate puzzle solver, I always do and usually complete the crossword puzzles in the paper, so I find the need to have all the required supply chains functioning like a well oiled machine (pun intended) to be a great challenge. It's a huge multi layered puzzle with the added feature that adjusting one part can affect many others. As more pieces are placed, each requiring constant fine tuning, I feel like the fellow spinning plates on sticks as he has to run back and forth to keep the existing plates spinning as he adds new ones. Eventually, there comes a point that he can't keep up and plates start to fall.

As was mentioned above, the modding community has done a fantastic job in enabling the customization of the game, both the functionality as well as all of the objects that are placed in the game.

Seen from a route creator's perspective, I find that sometimes there are things I want to do that are either difficult or are just not possible, IFAIK. Perhaps I haven't found the appropriate mod yet.

First, the world is just too small. Which means everything is way too close together, both industries and cities.
While there is a scale in the world, I have not found a way to measure distance and angles in order to place new objects. Everything is eyeballed, which does provide somewhat of a random organic look. Since the proper functioning of many items requires them to be placed within a specified distance of one another, not being able to adjust their location by nudging them is a frustration. They have to be destroyed, at a cost, and placed again. Might be said to be realistic but in real life I would measure before building.
As said, the look of the game is fantastic, the buildings, the people, the vehicles, etc. Although it is funny to sometimes see people sunk to their ankles in sidewalks or platforms. They also have that issue.

The lack of turnout blades and catenary that is not placed correctly, no zig-zag, does detract somewhat from immersion.
Although loading of cargo can be controlled with a % slider, the same cannot be done with unloading so you can't decide to favour one destination over another when it comes to receiving cargo. The game decides. Perhaps a mod I haven't found yet.

All in all, for what it does, it does it very well. I have found it to be a great complement to Trainz. I can recreate the model railroad, just like the one my dad had with trains, cars, ships and planes, all in the mix, only this time fully animated. In Trainz I can continue to create real, life sized routes that can stretch for 10's if not 100's of km. If somehow the two could be combined into one package ... :mop:

It has been fun exploring other avenues to scratch the train itch. It appears to be as open ended as Trainz and open to a very active modding community that is extending the game in all sorts of directions. Looking forward to seeing how far I can go with TF2