Review: Maglev 2005|
Developer: Abacus Publishing, Publisher: Contact Sales
Reviewed By Matthew Peddlesden
Date: 31 December 2002
When I first heard about this product I was not confident of a fun product,
unfortunately now that I have finished looking at it I have to say that
even though some decent effort has been put in to the package, my
initial concerns have still proven correct.
I have based this review on the latest version of Maglev 2005, which you can
see my looking on your original CD. If it has 'V2' on the right hand side
underneath where it says 'Abacus Publishing' then you have this version,
I am told that the original version had some serious issues so I would chase
up with Abacus about how to get hold of Version 2 if you want to have the
latest version of the product.
Maglev 2005 represents a currently fictional (but apparently planned)
Maglev route to go from Barstow to Las Vegas. For those that don't know the
area very well - it's across the desert.
Maglev trains are different from the normal variety in Train Simulator
due to their very different way of working - magnetic levitation. This
means all new track as well as the route, the rolling stock and the
The track that is included is nicely modelled and puts your train high above
the ground. Unfortunately this leads to a couple of side effects that are
minor but niggles never the less. All of the mile markers and speed
posts appear in their normal form way down below you and most certainly
out of sight when you're in cab view. The second niggle is that the trains
themselves have obviously had to have their heights adjusted in their 3D
models rather than MSTS automatically playing them correctly on the top of
the track - this an MSTS flaw for these purposes but it still means that
your train will spend all its time at the top of the screen when you're in
external views, and don't even consider using the 'trackside' view (4) as
there's not much to see standing on the ground close to the track as your
train speeds past above you :)
There is only one actual maglev train included though it has been repainted
in to numerous bright and colourful liveries that are used in the
activities. They look pretty good and include transparent windows - though
due to the nature of the maglev train there are no moving parts to be
The route is the biggest problem area in the package but before I go on I
feel I must clarify that by saying that the overall build quality of the
route is actually very good. I found this route to be much like the
Aerosoft High Speed Trains produc in that it has been executed very well but
the actual choice of a route for a commercial product was (in my opinion
at least) very poor. There are very few points on the route and indeed for
the most part you're going to find yourself staring at long straight pieces
of track for a few minutes (and at 300mph that's a lot of track), every now
and again it'll swoop to the left or right and then return to straight
track again. There are odd bridges - though they all look the same - and
tunnels dotted around the route which does at least add something to break
the route up. The stations don't seem quite right, it's like they are
made entirely of glass without any kind of support structures in place and
even in the near future I don't think they'll be making buildings like
One area that shines as an example of the superb execution of the route
is in built up areas such as Las Vegas itself, they have outdone themselves
with creating a wonderful feel of Vegas around the trackside. The variety
of buildings and their build quality is very nice - it's just a shame that
you are only around them briefly and then it's off out in to the hot desert
for a long while.
Occasionally as you drive you'll see signs down the side, tree's, roads,
highways and small clusters of houses but it's fairly sparse and I still
found it quite hard work to make myself drive it from end to end.
There are three stations on the route, Barstow and Vegas at each end and
Primm is near Vegas between the two.
The activities included are a fairly dull affair but this is mostly down to
the limitations offered by the route. I was disappointed that in the
activities I tried I didn't see any other rolling stock at all which tends
to give the impression that they were rushed and tacked on at the end.
Given the nature of the route where stock doesn't tend to interact it should
have been a fairly easy affair to add at least something else.
I also observed that timetables hadn't been properly set up for the
activities, once again adding to the rushed view.
Again, due to the limitations of the route there are no signals anywhere
(no points and apparently no tail-chasing either mean that you hardly need
them), so there's not much track-scenery.
There are no gradients on the route either, so all in all there really is
very little challenge to the product, not too much to see beyond a few
scattered areas of (admittedly very good) scenery and no variety in the
rolling stock other than the paint scheme. No extra effort was made to
perhaps make the doors of the coaches slide open or to use animations for other purposes,
and none of the stations have anything like sliding doors to add that little
One thing that I was very concerned about was an extra paper note included
in the box, it states that when you select an activity or explore the route
you will get two error dialog boxes about missing SMS files. You should
ignore them and return to MSTS and all will proceed. I have to say that for
a commercial product that is just about as unacceptable as it gets. You're
going to get those two errors every time you go in to anything on that
route so it's not a one-off when you start MSTS either. Please note
that this issue is noted as present in the newer V2 version of the product!
On a positive note I should say that the installation did go very smoothly.
MSTS is not very happy about adding new kinds of track due to the way it
works and I heard all manner of problems reported about this product on the
forums whereby it didn't work if you had extra tracks installed such as
XTracks or UKFineScale. I can happily say that I have XTracks installed
on my machine for various freeware routes and the installation of Maglev
had no problems at all.
I never enjoy writing a bad review, as a developer myself I know that there
are people behind these packages that put their heart and soul in to them
and having your work slated isn't the greatest thing in the world. But on
the flip side, they are also asking for people to part with their money to
see the product and therefore it's my responsibility to say if I think that
you're getting a good deal. In this case I am very sorry to say that I
cannot recommend this product at all.
Given the high quality of the models and some of the effort that was put
in to this product however I am hopeful that when this team get together for
a future product we should see something very good.