Review: LMS Steam Pack|
Developer: 3D Train Stuff, Publisher: 3D Train Stuff
Reviewed By Matthew Peddlesden
Date: 27 April 2002
Screenshots taken on Pat Daltons Settle and Carlicle 1930's Route
The LMS Pack was the first UK centric product released by 3D Train Stuff - in fact I think they can probably take home the award for the first
commercial UK-centric pack for Train Sim, period. As at this moment even now, there are only two UK centric commercial add-ons for Train Simulator
and both of them come from these fine people.
When it was first released, this pack included a Kitson Dock Shunter 0-4-0 steam engine - 3D Train Stuff have very graciously decided to offer that loco
to people for free download from their web site (http://www.3dtrainstuff.com) so I would urge you to go and do that as it provides an excellent
try-before-you-buy opportunity to see just how good their work is.
So in the pack as it stands you will find two steam locomotives, a Fowler 4F 0-6-0 with Tender and a Fowler 2F 0-6-0 Tank Engine. These are both
LMS so they will sit absolutely perfectly on the Settle and Carlisle route that comes with Train Simulator. If, however you want an added buzz of
realism I would urge you to investigate Pat Daltons Settle and Carlisle 1930's route as this will then give you a route that is much more involving
and fun to use for these smaller steamers.
What use would these locomotives be without something to pull? Also included in the pack is a fairly extensive library of wagons - 17 in all, covering
planked wagons, covered wagons, vans, tankers etc and the obligatory Guards Van.
Though you purchase the pack online it will be mailed to you - given that it's something in the region of 80 megabytes that's a fairly decent idea, though
it would have been nice to have the option of downloading rather than waiting for the media to arrive (my copy took some 6 weeks to arrive, though that
was due to a new version being released and they had decided to hold off sending orders out until it was finished).
The CD installs easy enough, though I had some problems getting a CDROM that would read it - safest bet here is to find a normal CDROM, not a burner and
not a DVD drive, highest success was just in a plain old CDROM.
Once installed you will find the locos available to you and they have some consists already set up for you so you can choose your route, pick a loco
and get out there driving immediately. It's always nice when the smaller issues of completeness are considered so good marks to 3DTrainStuff here.
There are no activities which is a bit of a shame given that the Settle and Carlisle route is there to run them on - some activities would have given
the pack that bit much more fun and would have provided you a simple and quick way to use your new stock without having to write your own activities. It's
a shame but it certainly isn't a bit problem.
Texturing and modeling on the locomotives is excellent - the texturing will blow you away as it is by far some of the best that I've seen in Train Simulator
to date. There were some concerns when the pack first came out that it wasn't quite right on the model side, however we're now on the third release
(the screenshots are all taken from this third release versioned 2.0) so I think it's quite likely that many of these problems will have been
fixed - however as I've not been able to find suitable reference pictures or drawings I can't verify their accuracy myself. I think that the screenshots
probably speak for themselves though :)
The wagons are all extremely attractive and look very authentic, switching to an external view and seeing the 4F slide past with 17 of these wagons
is a sight to behold.
Animation is smooth and there didn't appear to be any problems with the models, wheel-wobble on the wagons has been reduced from the original
version that I had as has a number of other problems on the wheels. It seems that they have been putting some effort in to these subsequent releases.
Each loco has its own unique cab view and authentic sound pack significantly adding to the feel of the locos, I mentioned Pat Daltons' S C 1930's
route earlier - meandering slowly along that route in one of these locos dragging a bunch of wagons behind is a really pleasant experience if you
want to kill a couple of hours :)
To give you an idea about performance on your system I have used the utilities from Decapod (available on UKTrainsim) to find out their polygon
counts - it reveals something very interesting but let's look at the numbers first:
There's something very interesting about the two loco's... Let's take the 4F, at 150 meters distance it has a polygon count of 2214 - moving out to
300m actually raises the polygon count to 2661 (the normal desire is that the further the loco is away from the camera, the fewer polygons it uses). A
more extreme example is the 3F, at 150 meters the polygon count is 2440 - but when you go out to 500m it jumps all the way up to a staggering 4532!
I'm not quite sure why this is, it's perfectly possible it's designed to be this way but it did strike me as odd given the usual trend of reducing
polycount as you increase distance...
The pack costs $35 (about 25 pounds) and includes the Kitson and Vern Moorhouses' Scenic Far North Route as extra bonuses. Shipping is free so there's
no more to pay.
Overall I think the pack is worth the money as they are some excellent locomotives - the Kitson is every bit as good as the others - and if you are interested
in steam freight you can't go wrong.