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Review: Stanier 8F for RailWorks
Reviewed By Matthew Peddlesden
Date: 28 September 2009

(Thumbnail images can be clicked on to view the full size version at 1680x1050)

The first add-on to come from (other than the re-issues of the older Rail Simulator content of course) was the Stanier 8F 2-8-0 Steam locomotive. Introduced in 1935, designed by William Stanier, 849 of these locomotives went in to service.

You can do all your homework (and save me having to do it!) on this powerful class at the 8F Society web site.

What's in the package?

  • Stanier 8F Locomotive in British Rail Black
  • Stanier 8F Locomotive in British Rail Black (poor / rusty condition)
  • 21 ton - 2 axle coal wagon
  • Western Region Brake Van
  • Four scenarios and One Free Roam

Unlike Paul Godber's 8F that's available for free download in the File Library here, this one is noticeably brighter and looks far better. I have to wonder if this is perhaps a Version 2 of that model though I can't find credits anywhere to validate that guess. I certainly like this loco and it's been well represented here with some extremely fine detail texturing (I've zoomed very close on one or two screenshots so you can see the detail on the builders plate at the front of the loco).

I was very pleased with the inclusion of the additional items of stock, namely the Coal Wagon and the Brake Van. Both are very well produced and are something new to add to your collection. I was particularly taken with the Brake Van, I must admit. The Brake Van also has a simple head-out style "passenger" view to provide some interesting views as you run your train down the line.

The cab and sounds included are simply variations on the default Black 5, which is a bit of a shame but as the cab probably wasn't hugely different in reality it probably will pass as acceptable to all but the most purist of users (and perhaps those who were able to experience riding in the real thing).

A feature of new locomotives that has started to be more widely available is the ability to use the "number" field of a loco to set other visual effects on it, for example it's used on the default Class 37 to set the 4 character Head Code and the number. With the 8F you can set the Shed Code and the name of the loco in addition to its number. I didn't find any documentation explaining how this was done but it's quite straight forward to work out:

There are ten characters, let's refer to them as : ABCDEFGHI. ABCD are for the Shed Code - the letter goes in A, a two digit code goes in BC and a single digit code goes in D - use a # symbol for the one of those you don't want. So if you want 5D (Stoke) then you would put D##5 in the first four characters. If you want 17A (Derby) then you put A17#. Lastly, EFGHI are where you put the number - e.g. 48737. So you could put A16#48737 to get 48737 and a Nottingham shed code.

The scenarios included are relatively basic. With "Mendip Coal" you first assemble your train by picking up one consist of wagons then connecting that up to another consist which has already (conveniently!) got a 7F sitting behind it ready to bank you up the gradients ahead of you. I found the actual run to be quite unchallenging, maintaining over 30mph all the way, just don't forget that you need to drop the 7F off at some point - I was paying attention to other things and went whizzing in to the station and only just stopped to drop it off :) Not particularly challenging and nothing to make me want to have another go.

In "Morning Milk" you need to take a very short train of milk wagons along the S&D where you'll be running behind a passenger service. This provides some degree of interest as most of the journey you're going to be chasing reds; however with a train as short as this one and a loco as powerful as the 8F, the challenge to stop it or get it moving again is minimised so you can accelerate with confidence that as long as you keep an eye on what you're doing you won't have any real difficulty stopping the train. Still, it's worth doing the once at least. You can of course raise the bar on this one by not allowing yourself to show the F3 view so that you can't see what the signals are miles in advance. Stick to the head-out view and drive it like a driver, and I can imagine this one being a tad more challenging.

In "Cathedral Express" you start off with a little bit of loco shunting, moving a couple of Black 5's around in the yard. Once that's done you then need to make best speed to Darlington station to pick your coaches up and head off to Durham Cathedral with a special service. The key to this one is to make sure you do that first shunting job as quickly as possible, it's a tight schedule to get to Durham, but if you crank up the speed and shoot off to Durham as quickly as possible there is plenty of scope to claw time back along the way, but not too much so get the shunt done and hook up to the coaches quickly. It's an interesting speed run with a novel shunt at the start but little in the way of challenge once you're on the way other than keeping the speed up.

I have not yet had the opportunity to run the last scenario "End of an Era" as yet.

So, for your 11.99 you're getting one loco model in two variations, plus two new wagons to add to your collection. The scenarios are worth playing through once and will probably last you three hours or so to complete them. The included free roam will also get you going doing your own thing as well. Overall i'd say that it's another great package, probably better value than some of the others due to the presence of the additional wagons.

To get the 8F you will need RailWorks, it is not available for or compatible with the older Rail Simulator. Now go to Steam and from the RailWorks product page you'll see a list of the "DLC" (DownLoadable Content) that you can get from it. You'll find the Stanier 8F listed there - once you've selected it and paid for it, it will automatically download and install itself right in to your simulator, which is really great.

Scottish Central PLUS




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