PETER HOSKIN reviews Train Sim World 3 and Return To Monkey Island


Train Sim World 3 (PlayStation, Xbox, PC, £39.99)

Verdict: Love and carriage

Rating: ****

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’m into trains as much as the next person passing by smiling at big, snorting machines whizzing by with high speeds.

So what’s in here for me? A lot, it turns out. Within minutes I was standing in front of not just any train, but the train I use on my journeys to and from South London. Same livery. Same upholstery. Almost the same unpleasant smell.

Instead of unfamiliarity, Train Sim World 3 is actually filled with the joy of recognition. The goal 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.

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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

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 it’s really about the sound the passenger doors make when you close them from your cabin, or the sight of rain pouring out the front window. This is one of the cleanest simulations I’ve ever come across.

It helps that Train Sim World 3 is beautiful. It’s not beautiful in the photorealistic Call Of Duty sense – there are plenty of times where the graphics are a bit buggy – but in the sense that the game knows how to paint big (and often menacing) skies above your head. Gets the colors and sensations on the spot.

And it also helps that everything is so welcoming. Everything is, in a sense, a tutorial — for different types of trains in different situations — until it lets your hand off the gas and lets you choose freely. There are many additional engines and tracks for experienced drivers (although it must be said that some of them require additional payment).

If you’re one of those experienced types or just a plain train geek, you can add an extra star to this review’s rating.

As for me, I am about to join you. I have to drop off some passengers in Rochester first.

Return To Monkey Island (PC, Switch, £22.49)

Verdict: Lots of happy returns

Rating: ****

Ah, Monkey Island, it’s been a while. Actually thirteen years since I played the fifth game in the series, 2009’s Tales Of Monkey Island.

Actually, rub that. This Return To Monkey Island is a throwback to an even earlier time: back to the 1990s and the beloved first two games.

They were largely made by Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman, who then sailed to different coasts. That puts them back on Monkey Island—with us in charge.

And so Return to Monkey Island feels like the final installment of a trilogy that has lacked a final installment for decades.

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Peter Hoskin: “Return to Monkey Island isn't just for the old and the creaky.  A good script and acting are ultimately multi-generational pleasures.  And a lot has been done to bring things up to date, with modern amenities and a new art style that grows on you like a cancer

Peter Hoskin: “Return to Monkey Island isn’t just for the old and the creaky. A good script and acting are ultimately multi-generational pleasures. And a lot has been done to bring things up to date, with modern amenities and a new art style that grows on you like a cancer

Here again is the charmingly hapless pirate Guybrush Threewood, now gray in hair if not in spirit.

And here is his love again, Elaine Marley; his nemesis, the sinister (and ghostly) LeChuck; and, of course, the mysterious Monkey Island itself.

If this all sounds like an exercise in nostalgia, well, to an extent, it is. There’s a lot here that will be familiar to time-strapped explorers, including the fast, self-referential script and point-and-click puzzle-to-puzzle progression.

But Return to Monkey Island isn’t just for the old and the creaky. A good script and acting are ultimately multi-generational pleasures. And a lot has been done to bring things up to date, with modern amenities and a new art style that grows on you like a cancer.

Welcome back Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman along with Guy, Elaine, LeChuck, Wally, Stan and everyone else. These are really – I believe the phrase is – I hearty.



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