AVSIM Commercial Rail Sim Review

A4 Pacific

Product Information

Publishers: Just Trains

Description: Rail add-on.

Download Size:
215 MB

Format:
Download or DVD
Simulation Type:
RailSim or RailWorks
Reviewed by: Gene Davis AVSIM Senior Staff Reviewer - November 10, 2010

The A4 Pacific was introduced in 1935 as a streamlined version of the 4-6-2 steam engine and was built for the London and North Eastern Railways and saw service up until the early 60’s with the introduction of diesel engines. The A4 Pacific was designed and built primarily for passenger service and to this day the A4 4468 Mallard still holds the world record as the fastest steam engine for its time.

With all of the add-on’s available for Railworks and Rail Simulator it can be kind of hard sorting through what is worth having and what can wait, unfortunately when it comes to steam engines I tend to just jump in as there is just something about that era of rail for me! That brings me to the A4 Pacific from Just Trains and they have done it yet again by bringing us a high quality engine that has been designed from the ground up to take us back to an era of rail that is all but gone!

The A4 Pacific from Just Trains

The A4 from Just Trains can be had either by download or in a boxed product, the one I received was that of the download edition and from what I can tell there doesn’t seem to be any significant difference between the two. To be honest I preferred the download edition this time around because it would have meant waiting for the boxed edition because it wasn’t released at the time of this review.

Installation is simple and straight forward, run the installer and input your registration information and you are off; Just Trains and Just Flight have really simplified their registration process using an account log in type of system and I have to say I am really happy to see it!

The A4 Pacific comes with a slew of liveries that are all 100% authentic to that of their real world counterparts. In total there are 11 different liveries to choose from including the Mallard, Union of South Africa and the Sir Nigel Gresley. Depending on which model you choose there will be significant differences such as one or two chimneys and each is particular right down to its own head board and weathered design.

Along with the A4 engine you will also find your tender, in total there are 5 different liveries that the tender car comes in and each is 100% authentic to that of its real world design. In the initial A4 package you will find that the A4 uses only stock coach passenger cars but for an additional price you can upgrade to the A4 add-on package that adds coach cars that have been designed to match that of the actual cars used by some of the different engines.

Where do you drive the A4 you ask? Well, the A4 add-on includes scenarios mainly designed for the European routes and that is to be understood because the A4 was essentially a European train and this package includes a total of 4 different scenarios that cover all of the default routes, but if you own the Newcastle to York Modern route that there will be an additional two more scenarios available. If you do not own the Modern version of Newcastle to York you will need to pick it up to utilize the additional scenarios.

Of course, you are not limited to the European routes as you can add the train and its content to all of the other routes in Rail Works manually; this is easily done if you have had any experience with the world editor in Rail Works. The A4 does install free roam scenarios in most of the European routes that came as default stock in the sim as well and they are easily accessed.

Inspecting the A4

Looking over the A4 for the first time is like taking a trip back in time as it is an era that has long since vanished and the wonder of steam engines have been replaced with diesel and electric, but for me the engine and sleek design only adds to the wonder of what it must have been like seeing one of these for the first time.

There is no question, this train just looks fast! As you pan around the A4 you can’t help but realize how much detail went into the design of this product to bring the A4 to life in Rail Works. When one thinks of a steam engine one usually thinks immediately of the massive running gear that is associated with it and with the A4 the running gear has been masterfully replicated with all of the integral parts that are required to make such an engine go and operate.

The A4’s frame, from front to back, has been built accurately as well and includes features such as front and back lights, buffers, couplings, boiler side grab rails, core plugs, the piping for the sanders, cylinder piping, detailed ladders and steps, water filling points for the tender, animated coal levels and even rivets in the engine frame itself. Another nice feature is that you have a visible crew in the train engine when you are looking from the external view; though this does not really affect the A4 overall it is just a nice addition, Take all of these features and throw in the authentic liveries and you have a pretty nice A4 experience!

When you climb into the cab you will be delighted by all of what you can do. Not only do you have a fully rendered cab view, you also have access to just about every system on the engine to make it go and guess what, most everything works! Functionality is a big issue in an add-on like this and if it doesn’t throw you into the sim and let you work everything it just doesn’t have the true to life feeling to it. I can definitely say that the A4 does deliver in giving the user a true to life feel of what it would have been like to drive and ride one of these magnificent machines from the privacy of one’s home office.

 The A4 allows the user to control the damper, whistle, brake, regulator, reverser, both the live and exhaust injector steam, blower, small compressor, cylinder and sander all from within the cab using animated controls and levers. This coupled with the gauges that function makes driving the engine relatively easy and each gauge has been designed to be 100% accurate. Functioning gauges include a dual pressure gauge for brake vacuum and chamber vacuum, boiler gauge, steam pressure gauge, heating gauge, water levels, reverser position.

SOUND!

When you see or hear a steam engine coming, there really is no other sound like it in the world and for me I think that is what makes these engines seem so massive since their sound really exemplifies their size. The sound package that comes with A4 is topnotch and has been created from actual steam engine sounds from the A4 Pacific, you literally hear the steam as the train rumbles by and explodes from the exhaust ports.

Brake sounds, bell sounds and of course the whistle have all been beautifully created and I will tell you that if you close your eyes and crank up the volume on your sound system, you can almost convince yourself that what you are hearing is 100% real!

All Aboard!

This add-on can be purchased from JustTrains.net for a reasonable price of just $21.99 and if you are even curious, then this is definitely a must have. For the rest of us who are steam fanatics this one is definitely a no brainer as it is an excellent addition to the train yard that is Rail Works and now with the release of Rail Works 2 you will find a slew of new features and controls built into Railworks 2 to use with your new A4 Pacific.

 

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