The original Hornby Virtual Railway was seen by many as being a landmark product which allowed you to build a model railway on your computer, giving you a way to build a whole model railway without the time and space that you'd need for a real one in your spare room, loft or garage.
First thing to make clear is that there's no specific "gameplay" to Virtual Railway 2, as in you can't work your way through activities or scenarios, and also don't have a way to pre-programme events.
What you do get is a selection of virtual rooms, including Loft, Bedroom, Garage and a non-room location which is called Sky Dome. Once you've picked your location it's a simple matter of clicking on the next menu item, and drawing out the shape of the board which you want to build the layout on.
Placing track and objects in to your virtual model railway involves simply selecting the main category of the item, clicking the specific item that you want, and then clicking on the 2D top-down or 3D view to place it where you want. Fine adjustments can be made such as rotating the orientation of the object and moving it to be exactly where you want.
Graphics are hugely improved over the original, with new 3D track sections, and some impressive looking steam and water reflection effects. However where improvements have been made in the visuals department, there's also some flaws such as animation of the moving parts on some steam locomotives not functioning as they should.
A fairly large selection of rolling stock included from the Hornby 2003 catalogue, but unfortunately the range doesn't seem as complete as it should be, and in several cases there's just the one choice of carriage to pick from to put behind your engine, when really there should be several of that livery and type.
Scenic items are thankfully much more complete and appear to have almost every item which you could need from the Hornby range, although it's noticeable that their new Skaledale range is lacking from the selection - maybe we'll see them added via an upgrade pack at a later date.
Controlling the 3D environment isn't quite as easy as it could have been, and you'll spend the first few minutes zooming about all over the room due to the panning and tilting method of control which is used. Once you've mastered this though it is fairly easy to use and makes moving around the room and your creation fairly easy, although not as efficient as maybe could have been.
Fortunately you can also pre-set camera locations, so you can have a camera giving you an overall view of the layout, one on a specific point, another which follows a train around the tracks, and also have cameras mounted on the trains.
Hornby Virtual Railway 2 is a massive improvement over the original and has a lot more on offer, including improved visuals and a generally more advanced approach to being a virtual trainset. However it falls short in a few areas which aren't as polished or complete as they maybe should be, and hopefully can be improved upon with some fairly simple patches.Overall score: 6 out of 10
Recommended Price: £29.99
Available: NowBuy Hornby Virtual Railway 2 from Amazon