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Review: Record Holders of Steam
Developer: 3D Train Stuff, Publisher: 3D Train Stuff
Reviewed By Matthew Peddlesden
Date: 27 April 2002


Screenshots taken on Pat Daltons' S&C 1930's route and Tim Courts' Fictional ECML route

This is the second UK-centric release from 3D Train Stuff, having spent the previous release looking at small loco's and freight, this time they have turned their attention to big steam and passenger traffic. The Record Holders of Steam pack includes some excellent locomotives and passenger stock depicting some of the most memorable steam in the country.

As with the LMS pack, you order Record Holders via their web site and it is delivered to you in the mail. In contrast to the previous experience with the LMS pack I think they must have damn near hand delivered this one as no sooner did they let me know it had been sent than it was here! :)

Installation is again very simple and once installed you have all the loco's and consists built up for them, in some cases numerous options so you can choose what you want, a nice option - it's simple but it makes all the difference in my opinion as having to go in to the Consist Editor is just a pain in the neck, and most end-users simply won't want to get involved in it at that level.

Included in the pack are the following locomotives and stock:

LMS Princess Coronation (blue streamlined) with blue streamlined Coronation Scot coaches
LMS Duchess of Hamilton (red streamlined) with red streamlined Coronation Scot coaches
LNER A4 Mallard
LNER A4 Silver Link with Silver Jubilee coach set
GWR King Edward I

I thought it a little strange that they had neglected to go for any coaches for the King, I personally find the King the best locomotive of the lot and putting the default GWR coaches that come with Train Sim behind it just doesn't look right - the difference in quality is glaringly obvious. The consists supplied give you the default coaches however, they do the job, but it would have been the icing on the cake to have some coaches up to 3DTrainStuff standards as well.

The two streamlined locos (Duchess and Coronation) are a sight to behold, they really are stunning. I've spent quite a few hours running up and down Pat Daltons' S&C 1930's route in both of these with their respective coaches and it simply looks wonderful.

Animation is flawless, though I did notice that some of the wheels on the loco's move slower than they should and appear to drag, however once you're above about 10mph that becomes difficult or impossible to see anyway so I don't consider it a major problem.

As we have come to expect from 3D Train Stuff, the texturing is outstanding. The models are exceptionally good as can be seen in the screenshots shown, and some bits have also been modeled with multiple levels of distance, so when they are further away they will use less polygons and have a significantly lower impact on your system.

The give you an idea of the impact they might have on your system I have used the excellent utilities developed by Decapod (available here at UKTrainsim) to find out their polygon counts and whether they have Levels of Detail or not.

ModelPolygon Count
Coronation Tender955 at max
Coronation Loco3044 - no LOD
A4 Mallard Tender1259 at max
A4 Mallard Loco3100 - no LOD
King Tender1255 at max
King Loco4749 - No LOD

The coaches all have interiors and passenger views which is all very welcome.

The only reservation I had about this pack was with the A4. It could very well be me but it just doesn't look quite right. I have compared what I can see in this pack with photographs and scale drawings and one aspect keeps coming up as being (in my opinion) not quite right. If you look at the A4 from a side-on view you can see it rises up from the cab towards the front before sloping down for the nose. Looking at the Ian Beattie scale drawings that I have for the A4 the top of the loco should be flat or heading gently downwards towards the front, it should certainly not ever go up.

It becomes much more exaggerated when you look at an offset front view - and when you look at the top view you can see that in fact the whole front of the loco is almost swelled up in size where again, it should remain completely straight front to back according to these drawings I have.

As I say, that could very well be me and my inexperience with the A4 so please do take these screenshots and see what you think, make up your own mind and then remember that the rest of the locos and rolling stock in this pack are easily worth the asking price on their own even if you do agree with me.

Each loco has its own superb Cab View and unique set of sounds adding to the realism - with the exception of the two A4's sharing the same cab (though the minor amount of blue that you can see through the little window makes it to where it would have been almost wasteful to include a second cab for the Silver Link).

I highly recommend this pack to anyone interested in Express Steam, it met all the expectations that I had for it (aside from my comments about the A4) and in many ways it exceeded them.

Out of interest I also tried to apply the Specular lighting modification to each of these loco's to see what effect it would have. Using Decapods Shape File Manager I applied it to the loco's and tenders and then went in to MSTS to try them out - unfortunately only the tenders actually get the benefit of the modification, the loco's look no different at all. I should stress this isn't a black mark against the pack as the Specular Lighting modification was only fairly recently identified and best results are achieved when the model is built with this in mind. The texturing has numerous lighting effects on them any way so you won't be disappointed.

Our score
93%



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