Add-on routes for Microsoft's Train Simulator often seem to follow either a steam theme, or are based on world famous routes from countries other than the UK, so it's nice to see that London to Brighton Express takes the form of a real current day commuter route in the south of England.
After a simple installation procedure the new route is ready to run from within Train Simulator and shows up alongside the other routes - developer EuropeanBahn Software have included route specific graphics for the backgrounds of the menus, and plenty of background information to give details of the route and trains which run along the 53 mile route.
Fifteen activities are included, ranging from simple commuter train runs between major destinations such as Brighton, London Victoria, Gatwick and Clapham Junction, to engineering work using the MultiPurpose Vehicles on runs such as sanding the line due to leaf fall. As you pass each of the stations there are real announcements from the tannoy systems, and every lineside scene is heavily populated with detail ranging from industrial scenes to motorways - to mimic those of the real locations.
It's clear that a lot of work has gone in to building the London to Brighton route and scenery, and there's lot of features which simply didn't seem possible as little as a year ago, and really does set the level at which Microsoft should be aiming with their own routes for the forthcoming Train Simulator 2.
Rolling stock is also excellently created, with the new South Central class 377 electric units running alongside Thameslink 319's and sparking from the 3rd rail pickups. New Network Rail MPV's also make a welcome appearance, although sadly the cab seems to be incorrect and that of another unit instead, despite what the back of the box says.
Along the route there is the odd occasional kink in the track which presumably shouldn't be there, and appears to have been caused by limitations in Train Simulator itself. There's also not much depth to the scenery which runs alongside the route - this isn't a problem when viewed in the cab, but higher viewing angles does spoil the illusion somewhat when it's simply open fields just a row or two away from the line.
However where scenery may be lacking away from the railway, it's certainly not lacking where it matters, and the amount of detail in areas such as stations simply has to be seen to be believed, with each structure and object modelled on the real-life counterparts.
London to Brighton Express really should be experienced by every Train Simulator fan, as it's the best commercial add-on that we've seen so far due to the highly realistic scenery, excellent activities and broad range of trains which are on offer.Overall score: 8 out of 10
Publisher: Contact Sales/Aerosoft
Recommended Price: £24.99
Available: NowBuy London to Brighton Express add-on pack from Amazon