One of the memories I had as a kid was a train set my dad got me. It had enough track to make a loop on the kitchen floor, but small parts that were easily lost made for a short lifespan for what some consider a lifelong hobby. Train Frontier Express by Train Frontier Team easily appeals to the avid train enthusiast and younger gamers, but may have a time finding its footing with casual gamers.
Players are able to build right away on a large square of land where elevation can be raised and lowered. Roads can be placed with communities along them, while rail can network a landscape of picturesque polygon vistas. With building – the one thing you will find yourself doing 80% of the time – you have a bit of flying blind to do. The overhead zoom doesn’t show the full layout of the space you have to work with; therefore, connecting railways becomes complicated when you realize you are far and away from the connecting track. To deal with this, I found it best to create landmarks as visual guides to help you find your way. These esthetically pleasing aspects can earn random badges for those that want to achieve mastery of their little world.
The props are easily identified and offer five or so models for different buildings. They can be combined and rotated, but not stacked or resized. Making a housing development was rather easy, but downtown props are not nearly as diverse as they could be. The selection of props was a little tedious since you have to scroll through all the options in order to get the one you want; but this can be alleviated somewhat with some careful planning.
After all that building, riding the rail is the big payoff. As much fun as it can be riding and/or crashing trains, the controls seemed to be skewed toward real train enthusiasts or those that drive a vehicle with a clutch. Avoiding derailments is all about controlling speed. That being said, I did spend a good amount of time crashing trains while figuring out controls, optimal speeds on curves, and how to properly stop at stations.
You have the ability to both share your world and view other via multiplayer. Unfortunately, I could not find anyone online to share with. This was actually pretty important for me because there is no way to really just play a game. The appeal of Train Frontier Express is in the planning rather than the playing. I can’t see this appealing to a lot of gamers, but if you have kids, you may want to try out Train Frontier Express and build worlds with them on a rainy afternoon.