A review by Gene Davis.
One of the great things about programs like Train Simulator 2014 is that it allows you to visit and see places that you might not ever get to see in real life, though its only a virtual representation of said place it is still closer to actually getting there for some than it is for others and its with add-ons like this that allows for some of us to experience those way off places.
Take myself for instance, I have been to California, ventured all over Oregon and Washington, traveled through Idaho and have traveled into Canada and spent some time in Alaska but I have never been to any other countries outside this part of the world and can only wonder what some of those other places might be like and have only experienced them through other peoples pictures, videos and books. I always tell myself that maybe someday I will, but for now it's just fun wondering.
Though I may never get to explore some of these far off exotic lands I can experience some of them virtually and this is the case with the China Railways SS7C Locomotive and ChengYu Route, though I will probably never go to China this little route gives me a brief glimpse of what it might be like to see it and experience how the rail infrastructure is set up in this far off place.
Purchase, Download and Manuals
This package can be purchased from Just Trains, simply log into the store, purchase it and download. Once purchased you will need to provide email and password information when you run the installer, the installer will automatically find TS 2013 and install itself.
After the add-on is installed you will find a new folder in your start menu under Just Trains called SS7C Locomotive and from there you can access the 84 page manual and a small utility that will allow you to switch between 2D and 3D track. By default it is set to 3D, but I found that I prefer the 2D because I experience strange drawing anomalies while progressing down the track in 3D mode. The 2D mode doesn't appear all that much different and is a lot more frame rate friendly.
The manual is 84 pages and covers complete operation of the SS7C Locomotive and explains all of the cab functions in great detail besides explaining the ChengYu Part 2 route and other included features.
The China Railways SS7C Locomotive and Rolling Stock
The SS7C Locomotive has been beautifully brought to life in TS 2014 and includes a ton of different features and dare I say that this model could be considered "advanced" in its operation and how it works in TS 2014.
The cab is a work of art and features many different systems and most of the buttons and switches are accessible and do function. The layout of the cab is puts the user in front of a unique set of instruments and a limited simulation of the LKJ-2000 display which is commonly used in trains in China and a fully functional 8 aspect Cab Signal System that features 11 different displays using three flashing displays. The CSS actually communicates with signals along the route and displays the lights based on the route ahead in the cab instead of having the user rely on exterior signals that are separate from the train.
Again this is not a jump in and go type of train and you will need to learn how to operate it and get it running. It didn't take me long to figure things out but the manual does make it pretty clear what needs to be turned on to get the train moving. I like that the lights and other systems are all controlled via the cab instead of the virtual controller in TS 2014 but you can still drive the train from either the controller or from the cab itself.
Externally the SS7C is beautiful and it really does have a look to itself that no other train has from any other part of the world given its coloring and design that along with its associated rolling stock makes it unique because it is obviously Chinese and this add-on was designed that way. The equipment atop of the engine is impressive and it’s clear a lot of work went into developing the entire engine. All of the signs, gauges and markings have some element of the Chinese language, heck even the in train announcements are in Chinese!
The Rolling Stock that is included is also quite good, the package comes with its own passenger, freight and fuel cars that are also specific to China and feature Chinese signage throughout and this really impressed me because I didn't expect to see anything but English markings in or on the cars and this really helps transport you to Virtual China!
Driving the SS7C is a lot of fun and it feature a really good physics model when travelling on the track and I really like the independent motion from within the cab that gives the feeling of movement. At one point I pushed the throttle all the way forward and just let it go, as I hit a tight corner the engine actually lifted off of the track to one side and then came crashing back down onto the track as I came out of the turn. You could actually hear the engine crash back down as it made contact with the track again, nice effect!
Sound for the engine, accompanying stock and route is also excellent. The engine features a full suite of sounds including the individual sounds the switches make when flipped, this along with the external sounds and internal warning sounds make this a well-rounded package.
ChengYu 2 Route
The route that is included in this package is based on the Chengdu to Chongqing Railway in China and features 505 kilometers of track. The route will have you travelling on the first mainline railway in China through the cities of Chengdu and Chongqing since the foundation of the People's Republic of China.
The route is interesting as it represents two very different parts of China, one being heavily populated cities and the other is the rural farming communities the route runs through to go from city to city. Many of the factories along the way are uniform as I would expect them to be in China and then you have small rural villages or just old buildings where people live or once lived along the way to look at.
Signage throughout the route is excellent and again it is all in Chinese and is appropriate for the areas they represent. As you get away from the cities and further into rural China there will be less population and the old country makes it known visually as you travel through.
Most all of the scenery objects and buildings are all are particular to this route and feature accurate signage and have a definite Asian flair to their design. I was really expecting to just see default buildings thrown in with some custom made objects, but to my surprise there were very few and even the signals and crossing areas are particular to what they would be like in China.
The route just has to be seen and experienced as it is a lot of fun to just explore with the two free roam modes in TS 2014.
The route and engine features a total of 4 tutorial scenarios, 2 Free Roam, 4 Passenger, and 3 Freight Scenarios for you to try your hand at the SS7C, you can also use the quick drive option which features its all of its rolling stock.
A good place to start are the tutorial scenarios as they will explain in detail how to run the SS7C and do the things you will need to do in the other scenarios. I was able to drop the SS7C into a European route that had electric engines via the Quick Drive option which was kind of fun.
I had more fun with this add-on just using the Free Roam mode and traveling the entire line of track, though not as rewarding as completing a scenario it just let me experience the route.
This is a unique route and deserves your attention and that it only costs $21.99 and is a no brainer if you enjoy TS 2014 as much as I do! It offers an excellent set of rolling stock, a fantastic engine and a route all in one package and for that you really can't go wrong here.
Just Trains just never ceases to amaze me when it comes to something different and new for TS 2014 and I urge you to have a look and give it a shot.