Train Sim World 3 continues to lay the tracks towards the ultimate railway simulation and the latest addition is Peak Forest, covering the Peak District in England, from Ambergate to Chinley – Buxton.
Purists might be a little confused as the majority of that route has been defunct since 1968, but like the Spirit of Steam released last year, this route add-on further explores the steam era from the early 1960’s.
In Peak Forest, you’ll find a total of 6 scenario’s, with a range of difficulty, offering 2 each of 2/5, 3/5 and 4/5 difficulty levels. Unlike many route-add-on’s, you’re going to need a little more than a single evening to work through all of the scenarios as 5 last between 50 and 80 minutes, with the 6 coming in at over 2 hours.
There’s also 30 guided route experiences spread across 10 chapters, 110 timetabled routes and three training modules, giving this route add-on one of the largest content counts when all areas are taken into consideration.
There are 3 included locomotives, with the LMS Fowler, LMS Jubilee and LMS Stanier all well represented, those enjoying collecting all of the route tasks might be disappointed to hear there’s only 60 rather than the more standard 100, but it’s a blessing in disguise, due to all stations being authentic to the 60’s, they’re a little more sparse than modern stations, so squeezing in too many route tasks, would have made it feel cluttered and unrealistic.
You’ll still need to find 20 lunches to eat, 15 route maps to replace, 15 sets of suitcases that need tidying up and 10 coal piles that need bagging up. These are well spread out across over 25 locations including sidings, sheds, and stations.
Regardless of which side of Train Sim World you’re approaching from, there’s plenty to like about Peak Forest, firstly it’s among the best looking add-ons thanks to the beautiful scenery of the Peak district, valleys, and effects like the low lying mist is even accurately represented in some areas, obviously set in the early 60’s, long-before I was born, I can’t be 100% certain about true accuracy, but stations, the buses dropping passengers off and even down to the passengers attire all feels extremely accurate to the steam-era and the early-mid 1960’s.
The real question though comes down to the Fowler, Jubilee and Stanier which might feel familiar as both the Stanier and Jubilee where also featured in last years Spirit of Steam add-on, because of this it does detract a little from the value, when owners of that route aren’t going to get quite as much from this one, but if you haven’t already delved into the Crewe-Liverpool route in Spirit of Steam, this bundle will possibly provide a little more content thanks to the third locomotive, the relatively small Fowler 4F.
As you’ll come to expect from any other Train Sim World Experience, there’s strengths and weaknesses with the overall presentation, the route looks great, stations, scenery, the locomotives, the people, I had very little to complain about, but as always there’s the few performance issues that are a staple of the series, as textures load at a set distance, so as you walk around you can clearly see a line of where the higher resolution textures kick in, likewise when travelling at speed, you’ll see a little pop-in here and there, but this has mostly improved since TSW3 has reached full speed, so while not as bad as TSW2 was, it’s always worth mentioning.
Likewise the sound is always high quality, but when using fairly accurate sound bits from locomotives, they can’t really input dozens of hours of noises, so you’ll often hear a little repetition, especially in engine sounds and the steam noises. Once again though, it’s more for transparency that these are mentioned as they’re not any worse than any other route.
It’s worth mentioning that most of these locomotives handle relatively similarly, and for anyone who hasn’t played Spirit of Steam, that’s substantially different to more modern trains.
It’s not just a case of slapping it in forward and accelerating, you’ve got a few separate knobs and levels you’ll need to adjust, which means these will take a little more getting used to than any of the more modern routes.
This makes Peak Forest (like Spirit of Steam beforehand) a pretty unique offering, it’s going to feel a little uninviting and challenging for newcomers, but for those who maybe have a few other routes and want something that’s a little more challenging, the steam additions provide that perfectly, which when you take into account the sheer amount of content included with long scenarios, 3 locomotives, the route add-ons and 100+ timetabled routes, it’s safe to say this come well recommended for anyone eager to take that next step on their Train Sim journey.
I don’t personally enjoy the steam trains as much as the diesels of the early 80’s I grew up around, like the HST, but let’s not take anything from Peak Forest (or Spirit of Steam), exploring these classic steam trains is an experience that anyone interested in Train Simulation will want to experience, so while Forest Peak might not quite land in the same station if you own Spirt of Steam, it’s a must for anyone looking to diversify their Train Sim experience, rather than sticking with similar trains on similar routes with more modern routes.
TSW3: Peak Forest Route
Forest Peak might not quite land in the same station if you own Spirt of Steam, it’s a must for anyone looking to diversify their Train Sim experience