Simulation fans have a wide variety of options for traveling around, we’ve got Bus, Train, Tram and even Taxis coming soon, but rather than concentrating on one area, Bus Simulator 21: Next Stop brings us the Tram Extension DLC to venture away from the bus lane and swap wheels for rails.
It’s not all that long ago that we reviewed Tram Sim, which wasn’t a bad game, but it ventured a little too close to realism and ended up a little overcomplicated to be fun. We’ve been riding small urban routes on Train Sim World 4 for a while and here on Bus Simulator 21: Next Stop – the School Bus Extension for Bus Simulator 21 was among my favourite DLC packages in years.
So it goes without saying there’re a fair few targets for the Tram Extension DLC to aim for. Like the School Bus Expansion, you’ll find the Tram Extension does an equally impressive job of integrating into the main game. Regular players will know we’ve had tram lines around Angel Shores for a while, so finally now, we get to make the most of them.
When you first launch Bus Sim 21 after picking up the DLC you’re given a quick notification that you own the Tram extension, and if you’ve passed mission 12 (quite a bit further than the starter requirement for the School Bus Expansion), you’ll be introduced to the first quest to expand your bus business into a wider public transport venture.
If you’re new to Bus Sim, or haven’t spent the time working through the main story quests, you can still get instant access to the Tram extension by launching the European map, but be warned, especially in sandbox play, there’s no real introduction, you’re thrown in at the deep end, and there’s not even clear Instructions that you need to head to the hub (which looks far too similar to any other team stop on the map), then interact with the unit, thats hard to notice if you’re not looking directly at it, and then you can access the team depot and finally buy a tram to get to work with.
When you do finally get to drive a tram, you might find things a little confusing, controls feel a little awkward compared to what we’re used to with Bus Simulator, acceleration feels very slow, braking is slow but at least very predictable and as well as indicating to make a turn, you have to press the direction. It feels odd that you’re selecting a track direction and anyone who’s familiar with Train Sim World, or even Tram Sim, may feel like the manually turning a tram leaves you feeling a little too much “bus like” compared to what we’ve seen in other games.
Beside the turning, driving is kept pretty simple and anyone who’s spent time on the Buses, should find the controls pretty straightforward, however newcomers might want to check out the main game’s first half hour to really get to grips with the context menu, such as turning on lights, kneeling and opening doors (all have shortcut buttons), because especially if you play via sandbox, you’ll only have a very limited chance to familiarise yourself.
It’s fair to say I was a little set back at first with the Tram Extension, it’s hard to explain, but I just felt the game was going to be a little less Bus-like and more Tram.
This didn’t last long though, once I’d spent a good half hour getting used to the tram, improving my throttle control, and building a few routes around (and through) my existing bus routes, I felt like I was getting much more from the DLC.
As expected, the map integration, seeing your buses as you take a tram route and vice versa, and being able to utilise busy bus routes to improve your team routes all helps to make the DLC feel like a major part of the game and not just a tacked on extra.
The overall presentation of the Tram Extension won’t surprise anyone who’s played Bus Sim 21 before, dialogue is delivered through little pop-ups the same menu system is used between the main game and both School Bus and Tram extensions and you’ll create a route and manage your schedules in the same way.
However, it’s not all running on rails as I noticed a fair few graphical errors, from juddering when a passenger, more texture pop-in than I’m used to seeing on Bus Sim (though this is still minimal), and some lazy issues with passengers floating above or between the seating, a pretty simple and basic looking cab and my main complaint is how similar the two included trams feel to play.
Sound is also fairly limited, there’s the same passenger lines we’ve heard before (if there are any new, they weren’t noticeable like the School bus content), and it felt like most audio was just reused from the base game.
Value was a big bonus for the School Bus Expansion because of how much I felt it added to the game both in content and integration, but the official Tram Extension is even better value, possibly one of the best value DLC packs I’ve ever played.
Obviously at $19.99 it’s not a bad price anyway, especially when we consider how well the DLC is integrated into the main game, and once again you’re looking at hours and hours of extra content if you go in via the campaign / story mode. B
But the real star of the show is the promise of “Tram Simulator: Urban Transit, free to all owners of the Tram Extension of the season pass.. .. A forthcoming standalone “Tram SIM” game, built from Bus Sim, in the same Angel shores area, but with a much more impressive 6 trams and the potential to just tweak those controls a little and improve a few areas such as the pace of acceleration or general graphical performance..
It’s fair to say that the Tram extension for Bus Simulator 21 doesn’t quite live up to the same standards set by the base game or indeed its other official extension for School buses.
Controls don’t feel intuitive, acceleration feels cumbersome and turning seems unnecessary, but it’s still a worthy addition for Bus Simulator fans and well worth checking out if you just fancy the tram lines of transport, especially with the DLC featuring free access to the forth standalone release of Tram Sim Urban Transit.
Bus Sim 21: Official Tram Extension – DLC
a worthy addition for Bus Simulator fans and well worth checking out if you just fancy the tram lines of transport, especially with the DLC featuring free access to the forth standalone release of Tram Sim Urban Transit