I doubt very much, that there have been more games made on any other subject then the Second World War. There have been strategy games placed in that historical period (weather the European battlefield, the African, the Atlantic, or the Pacific), also there have been many shooting games (sounds only natural that one should shoot in the war) made on the subject of WWII. I guess everybody knows Of Indiana Jones adventure games (OK the events unfold before the war, yet already in the time of the Third Reich). And there are quite a few simulations made about the WWII (usually aerial or naval). Well here’s another simulation placed in the WWII, only this time it’s a train simulation. That’s right – a train simulation!
The plot is simple. You start of at the train station in Metz and need to steal a train in order to take it to Riviere. There will be trouble on the way (naturally), so you’ll need to shoot your way through them, but the main concern is the train. You are the engineer on that train and must take a really good care of it.
Instead of the Manual:
When you run the game you’ll first see a menu. You can set 7 things (although you can leave them as default). You get to choose your graphic options (I recommend EGA 16 color graphics), you can even select a joystick option (I don’t have one, so I couldn’t test this one) and last but not least you can choose some effects (like the furnace flickering – I’ll explain that latter).
Next you are greeted by a weird version of the Marseillaise (well the sound is only PC speaker). This is also the only music you’ll hear (you hear it at the opening screen and at the end of the game). Then you find yourself at the Metz train station. Now I guess I should mention that you have a partner and if I recall correctly his name is Pierre (I loved this game on C64 and there you could accidentally shoot your partner and the game said: Pierre is hit). You need to cover him! He’s the little grey shadow moving across the screen while you shoot at the guards. There seems to be a lot of guards around and they will randomly appear at the windows (the window will light up in yellow so you’ll know where to shoot). If by any chance you can’t shoot a guard in time you better duck (you shoot with enter and duck with space). At the Metz station you don’t get to enter the station itself (you’ll enter other stations), but you get to choose the difficulty level (I suggest you start at the beginner level). Once Pierre is done he tells you to climb aboard and the real simulation begins.
Now you’re in the engine room of a steam train engine (and I’ll give a description of it now, since you need to know what to do once here). First of all you need to release the brake (if it’s turned left it’s released, if it’s turned towards you it’s not). Then there is the furnace (if you chose the flicker option it will switch colors giving the effect of a real fire burning – I told you I’ll explain that) and you can open it and shovel coal in it. To know when to shovel some more coal look at the meter that says TEMP (that’s temperature). Now higher temperature means more pressure in the boiler (you can see that on the PSI meter). Next you need to open up the throttle. It’s the lever in the top left corner. Since it has more then one level you can think of it as the gear box of a car and the gas pedal at the same time (you’ll see how fast you go on the MPH meter). But be careful! It the pressure is to high the boiler might explode! So make sure you look at the PSI and if it’s too high you need to blow off steam (that’s the lever in the bottom right corner). You’ll need this when you try to stop the train.
So now you’re on your way. The first thing you should do is press 4 (this will bring up the map) and see where you’re going (to switch back to the cabin view press 3). You’ll see some cities, bridges and switches on the way. If a station is pink it’s held by the resistance, if it’s blue it’s held by Nazi’s. This also applies for bridges only they are green (Nazi) or yellow (resistance). If a station or a bridge is in enemy hands you’ll need to stop the train and take it (it will probably be retaken later, but you can’t pass while it’s in enemy hands). When you’ll be close enough to it you’ll see a message saying bridge/station X km ahead (usually it starts with 10 km). Although you have the brake you mustn’t just apply it (this will burn it). You need to slow down the train sufficiently first! So close the throttle (watch that PSI meter!) and start applying the brake several times for just a second (this will start slowing you down, but won’t burn the brake). You should come to a full stop when the message reads 0 km.
Now if you stopped at the station you’ll see the station and Pierre will start making his way towards the door. You’ll again have to cover him (like in Metz). Once he gets in the station you can send a message to the resistance and can tell them to take the next bridge/station or that you need repairs (you can look at the status of your train by pressing F7 while onboard), but you don’t have to send them a message if you don’t need to (the number of messages is limited). They will reply by telling you when they will take a certain station/bridge or at which station they will be able to repair the train. Make sure you’re not there too early, or don’t come there much later (you can come some time latter but not too much).
If you however stopped at the bridge you’ll have to sink enemy gun boats. You’ll be sitting behind a cannon and there will be four boats on the river shooting at you. You need to sink them before they hit you.
You also need to watch out for enemy planes. They will attack the train while in motion. They can attack either from the front or front the rear. You’ll need to climb to the machinegun on the roof of the train and shoot them down (1 – front view; 2 – rear view).
I have covered most of it by now, so the only other thing left is to explain the switches. There are parts of the railroad where you can go in more then one direction. You’ll get a warning that you’re nearing a switch (just like with a bridge/station), only you don’t need to stop. There are three green lights in the cabin (at this point one of them should be red). These light indicate in which direction the switch will take you. If the top one is red you’ll go left, if the middle on is red you’ll go straight, and if the bottom one is red you’ll go right. In order to change the direction you need to signal the man at the switchboard. You do that with your whistle (I think it’s one whistle left; two whistles right; no whistle keep going strait). Make sure you’re going the right direction, so check the map after the switch. If you’re not going where you want to go you need to reverse! There is a forward/reverse lever in the cabin (but you must bring a train to a full stop before you can reverse).
The graphics are quite good (although maximum 16 colors). It helps a lot, that the entire game is happening during the night, so everything is in shades of black and gray. The sounds are OK (which is surprising for PC speaker sound). You will hear different sounds of your train engine (depends how fast you’re going) and you’ll hear the shooting sounds and so forth. So the do a nice job (you can turn the sound on/off with F2 and F3).
OK! That’s about it. You just need to know, that you don’t have unlimited time to reach Riviere. You need to be there before the break sun rise (that between 7 and 8 A.M.). So good luck to you!
I had some problems running the game (I couldn’t press fire, so I couldn’t start the game). When this happened I just exited DOSBox and ran the game again, only this time I played with the settings a bit (it’s enough to choose a different graphic settings, but change it back before running it – press 1 CGA mode and back to 2 EGA mode again). Also if you wish to restart the game during play you can press F1.