October 6, 2011
This past summer, there were many Xbox Live surprises from the independent gaming community. One game that caught my attention was Train Frontier Express, a train toy set-style simulation that lets you build rails and play with your creation. I must confess that usually I do not get into gaming simulations; most of the time, I find them complex and boring. However, after playing the trial version, I was pleasantly surprised about how much I was enjoying it. So I decided to give a try to it.
Train Frontier Express has two modes: builder and conductor. In builder mode, you get to build your own landscape and train system. Choose from trees, houses, cars, and type of train and customize your environment by building mountains and forests, adding snow, and digging your own precipices. You can also share and join creations of different users via the Xbox network. In conductor mode, obviously, you drive your train, and you can see how the train is moving from different perspectives.
The graphics are stunning and are above average. Everything is in 3D environment. Most of the time I did not have problems with the camera; however, there were few cases when it was hard to see what I was doing. However, that did not affect the gaming experience at all. Additionally, the music was enjoyable, and the sound effects where quite entertaining.
The only issue is that the learning curve is not that fast due to a lack of tutorials; instructions are rather limited. The builder mode is very easy to use, but the conductor mode was not that straightforward. Even thought it was not that difficult to learn, there were few moments of frustration. My only option was to press random buttons and see what happened.
With that said, even though this is not a type of game I gravitate towards, I found myself interacting with it for hours. After a while, though, I had enough. Based on my interest as a gamer, I don’t consider it an addictive game that I will be playing again and again.
Is it worth to buy this game? Yes, it is. I definitely had fun with the complete version. The game costs 240 Microsoft points ($3); for that price, you can have hours fun.
Salvador Garcia Martinez is currently collaborating as a researcher at the Technoculture, Art, and Games research centre; he is also a doctoral student in Educational Technology at Concordia University in Montreal. He has professional experience as a software developer, web designer, and instructional designer. You can connect with him on linkedIn or his personal website or follow him on Twitter @salgarciam.
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