Train Sim World 3 (PlayStation, Xbox, PC, £39.99)
Verdict: Love and Transport
I’m not familiar with this world they call Train Sim World 3. I haven’t played either of the first two games, and I only love trains as much as the next person putting a passing smile on big, puffing machines going by at high speeds.
So what’s here for me? A lot, it turns out. Within minutes I was standing in front of not just any train, but the one I use on my commute to and from South London. Same color scheme. Same boring upholstery. The same iffy smells, almost.
Instead of obscurity, Train Sim World 3 is actually full of joy of recognition. The aim of the game is to take digital trains along real routes – Britain’s southeast corner, California’s dusty freight lines, the superspeeds of the German network – all from the driver’s seat.
Peter Hoskin: The aim of the game is to take digital trains along real routes – the south east corner of Britain, the dusty freight lines of California, the super speeds of the German network – all from the driver’s seat
But really, this is about the sound the passenger doors make when you close them from your cabin, or the sight of rain pouring out of your front window. It’s one of the purest simulations I’ve ever come across.
It helps that Train Sim World 3 is beautiful. Not pretty in the photo-realistic Call Of Duty sense – there are plenty of times when the graphics are a little buggy – but in the sense that the game manages to paint big (and often threatening) skies over your head. It gets the colors and the feelings on the spot.
And it also helps that it’s all so welcoming. Everything is a tutorial in a way – for different types of trains in different situations – until it lets go of your throttle and lets you choo-choo freely. There are plenty of extra engines and tracks for seasoned drivers (although, it must be said, some of them require extra payment).
If you are one of those seasoned types, or just a simple train geek, please add an extra star to the rating of this review.
As for me, I’m on my way to join you. I have to walk some passengers in Rochester first.
Return to Monkey Island (PC, Switch, £22.49)
Verdict: Many happy returns
Ah, Monkey Island, it’s been a while. Thirteen years, in fact, since I played the fifth game in the series, 2009’s Tales Of Monkey Island.
Actually scrub that. This Return To Monkey Island is a throwback to even earlier times: back to the 90s and the beloved first two games.
Those were largely made by Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman, who then sailed to different coasts. This one takes them back to Monkey Island – with us at the wheel.
And so Return To Monkey Island feels like the concluding part of a trilogy that for decades lacked a final part.
Peter Hoskin: ‘Returning to Monkey Island isn’t just for the old and creaky folks. After all, good scripting and gameplay are generational pleasures. And a lot has been done to update things, with modern conveniences and a new art style that grows on you like a barnacle.”
Here again is the charmingly hapless pirate Guybrush Threepwood, now grayer in hair, if not in spirit.
And here is his love again, Elaine Marley; his nemesis, the horrifying (and ghostly) LeChuck; and of course the mysterious Monkey Island itself.
If that all sounds like an exercise in nostalgia, well, to a certain extent it is. There’s much here that will be familiar to seasoned explorers, including the snappy, self-referential script and point-and-click puzzle-to-puzzle progression.
But Return to Monkey Island isn’t just for oldies and squatters. After all, good scripting and gameplay are generational pleasures. And a lot has been done to update things, with modern conveniences and a new art style that grows on you like a barnacle.
So welcome back, Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman, along with Guy, Elaine, LeChuck, Wally, Stan and the rest. These are really – I believe the expression is – me cordials.