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Tickets please, folks. No ticket? That’s okay, you can buy one for £3000. Yes, that is a single. A return is £12 million. Listen, that’s just how much trains cost in England now. No? Suit yourself, if you really think you can enjoy all the gilded luxury of the London to Brighton service through the magic of video games, be my guest, but I don’t believe you can. Games will never replicate the thrill of dipping into your pension to stand in a virulent, low-energy mosh pit for two hours. Not even these 10 best trains in PC games can simulate that. All aboard!
Train to hell – Monster Train
You ever catch one of those fancy European trains? Fast as flip and two decks, like a big boat on rails. That’s travelling in style, something British rail refuses to do. The demons of card flicking roguelike Monster Train must be inspired by those tall French choo-choos. Their steamy helltrain has three decks, more than enough space to stack monstrous rows of vegetation and many stabby candelabras. They even put the engine on the top deck, which is probably a health and safety nightmare but I don’t think the winged princes of hades are bothered.
Steam trains – Red Dead Redemption 2
Things get heated on these finely replicated hot-water whooshers of the late 1800s. You can hop on as a passenger and rob the conductor down to his britches. You can throw yourself onto a moving carriage from horseback to evade Jonathan Law. You can push helpless people in front of the deadly cow catcher as it speeds past. Wow, that’s terrible. If you prefer not to kill, you can always hogtie somebody and put them in front of the ghost train (a spooky easter egg). Or you can Nathan Drake your way to a secret derailed train, rusting in a canyon, where shiny gold bars await in one of the ruined carriages. I’m saying you’ve got options, that’s the beauty of the railroad.
Doomtrain – Final Fantasy
Ask no questions of the Doomtrain, for no answers will be given.
The 11:45 service to New Cross, via your house – Nimby Rails
“Do you have strong opinions on rail projects?” asks the blurb of train management sim Nimby Rails, as if it did not already know the answer was “yes”. In this HS2 ’em up, you are able to redesign the railways of whatever nation, town, city or province you like. It’s basically about drawing thick lines on Google maps until the train stops right outside your front door. But caution. You can’t go ploughing over every motorway, canal and housing estate already in existence. It’s called “Nimby” for a reason. Limits are imposed, like cash and crossing restrictions. The challenge here is to prove you are better than highly specialised transport planners. And uh, well, you probably aren’t, are you?
Loot train – Apex Legends
Here’s a train! Oop, not anymore. Okay, have a train! Nope, we take it back.
Make up your minds, Respawn. The battlest royale is better with a whizzing loot locomotive, but you keep pretending it’s not and then putting things back on track just when we get over the loss. Oft have the writers of this site crashlanded atop the moving carriages and punched their foes with the fury of a displeased ticket inspector. It is a better fightzone than the hovering shuttle craft, better than the cramped teleporter complex, better than fighting in Skullton-upon-Dunes, and better than the funky new gondolas (although they are quite nice). Stop disrupting the public transport. Let the loot train roll.
Wooden trains – Tracks
Wooden train sets that stick together like a jigsaw have been popular since the 1950s. But it took until 2017 for somebody to fully transplant that wholesome toy, wood grain and all, into a video game. In the early days it was simple wooden pieces in a white living room void. But now look at it. I have no quip to offer. It’s just nice.
The Aurora – Metro Exodus
If I was stuck on a train for weeks with Artyom Boreski, I’d drink vodka too.
The Mortar – Hitman 3
This train is a weirdly linear finale to a series that made its name offering big clockwork playgrounds (it is Matthew’s least favourite Hitman level). But in the right hands, even a straightforward level can make a steamy stealth run. I am not going to tell you that a fatal train through the frozen Carpathian mountains is the perfect final metaphor for the career of a cold-hearted killer who only ever had the illusion of choice, but I’m sure you’ll read that sentence somewhere.
The DB BR 363 – Train Sim World 2
It’s German, it’s red, it shunts your carriage bed. The Deutsche Bundesbahn 363 has no time for your games. There’s work to be done. But not too much work, because actually it is very old and small. Let this plucky geezer push an empty wagon to where it’s gotta be. Let it shunt some coaches around, let it remember what it is to be a train. Do not deny this machine its drudgery. Train culture is not human culture. To retire is to die.
Thomas the Tank Engine – Resident Evil 2
True horror has a name, and it is Thomas.
One Off The List from… the least convincing disguises
Last time we had to closely examine the synthetic hair of suspicious indivduals in a list of the 9 least convincing disguises in PC games. But one of these crafty cosplayers snuck through our inspections. It’s… the box from Metal Gear Solid.
We oughta be ashamed this got by. “Cross it off the list,” said normally vigilant commentguard ‘lglethal’ with a blasé glance, “because clearly it’s not a disguise – bad or otherwise – it’s just a box. Hang on a sec, where did it go?”
Everyone, split up and keep your eyes open. This can’t keep happening. I’ll be back next month, and, goblins… I want that box.