Review: BR Class 101 for RailWorks|
Reviewed By Matthew Peddlesden
Date: 26 June 2010
I don't think that there can be any train enthusiast who does not have a special place in their heart for the old Class 101 first generation DMU... whether that place is a good one or a bad one.
I remember as a kid knowing them as the "trains with square wheels" because of the rough sounding ride they gave.
However, for all the poor memories I have of them, they for some reason are an item that i've always been delighted to see represented in one simulator or another, whether it's Trainz, MSTS or now RailWorks.
The class was the longest lived and most successful of the first generation DMU's with the last units withdrawn at the end of 2003 - at an age of around 47 years old.
Consequently, the class has carried a large number of liveries from the earlier green with yellow whiskers liveries to modern liveries from the current ToC's such as Scot Rail. They have also been converted for use by Network Rail and re-classed as Class 901 and then subsequently Class 960.
Many months, ago, perhaps even stretching in to more a year or two, Derek, one of the stalwarts at Kuju / RailSimulator Developments (now RailSimulator.com), proposed to build a Class 101 as a freeware item within Rail Simulator, along with a number of other projects. Time moves on, quite a bit of time in this case, and this has emerged as a payware item released by RailSimulator.com and available for purchase and downlad on Steam as with other RailSimulator.com items.
There have been many instances in the past where freeware items have suddenly become payware items with numerous cynical posts being exchanged on the forums however I do firmly believe that in this case we have absolutely ended up with a far better bit of stock (for example, it almost certainly would not have had the excellent cab and sounds included in this pack). I mention the history of this only to allow those who were thinking "but wasn't it...?" to know that yes, this is one and the same - but beyond that, ignore the past, things change and move on.
Ok, so what have RailSimulator.com dished up this time in one of their more recent products?
Once you've paid your £14.99 on Steam, you will get the Class 101 downloaded and installed in to your system with the same ease that any of the other RailSimulator.com products are purchased and used.
Included are the class represented in 6 different liveries:
- British Rail Green
- British Rail Green with Yellow Warning Panel
- British Rail All-Over Blue
- British Rail White with Blue stripe
- British Rail Blue/Grey
- Network South East
- Regional Railways
Within the sim, note that the Blue/Grey livery is simply called "BR Grey" which confused me for a while until I tried it!
The unit itself is represented by 7 different units represented by various acronyms such as DMBS, DMCL, DTCL and so forth.
The destination displays of the unit are customisable, which is a nice feature.
The cab view is excellent and definitely up to the standard expected of a RailSimulator.com unit now. Note that my screenshots of the cab are done using a different camera setting that is optimal for outside and tends to show things a bit "zoomed" when you're in the cab view, if you're on default settings then you'll see more of the cab on your screen.
There are a couple of additional physics enhancements on this unit such as vacuum brake and diesel mechanical functionaly, plus operational manual gear selection. Note that in previous DMU's such as the Class 166 you will have seen the gear setting change automatically with no way to do this manually. Not so with the 101, you're operating the gears now too.
I'm still not sure how I feel about the implementation of the gears on this unit, something just didn't feel quite right about them. I'm coming at this from having heard them (not driven them) however, but still something just didn't feel right. In any case, it's still much better than nothing at all as it was before.
Sounds are absolutely ace except that, related to the niggle about the gears they don't seem tied to what you're doing with the RPM as much as they are what the unit is doing speed-wise. It still sounds fantastic and very "first generation DMU" but there wasn't the general sound of a bus revving up down as gears changed etc.
To be honest, the only thing I felt that was missing in this package was a passenger view. Perhaps RailSimulator.com have researched that not many people use it, do you use passenger view? Drop me a mail and let me know! I always look for one personally and if I'm driving a tedious bit of track then one of my things is to sit in the coach for a moment and see the view of the route from that perspective. I've placed the camera in the middle of the coach while the unit was sat at a station and you can see there is scope for an interesting passenger view including the view out the front.
There are 8 scenarios included in the pack and I really haven't had time to go through them all however the two or three I looked at seemed quite entertaining with some good AI and other challenges, particularly "Down to Didcot Day 1" where you have to keep to your schedule or you miss your slot on the mainline; about time we saw some additional challenges like this in scenarios!
One last thing to note, for those with a RailDriver, I do not believe there is a way to operate the new Gear control via your RailDriver controller, so you'll still need to do that via the keyboard.
Overall, I'm delighted with the pack. This old Class 101 first generation DMU has been lovingly recreated with extremely high detail in the 3D model, lovely detailed textures and very nice sounds. It's also a unit that will figure on just about every UK route that you might have for RailWorks, so it's a versatile unit you'll really get your moneys worth out of.