BVE (short for Boso View Express) is an excellent freeware train simulation from Japan that is much better than many commercial releases, and is considered by many avid fans to be the most realistic PC train sim to date. The game puts you behind the wheel in a train cab, driving the train from a first-person perspective through photo-realistic scenery. |
There are many features in BVE that puts most commercial train sims to shame. Your objective in the game is to drive a passenger train on any given route, attempting to keep on time while obeying speed restrictions and train signals. While the graphics are more than adequate, it is the realistic physics that is the real star of BVE. For example, you cannot reduce train speed from 120 km/h to 85 km/h in a few seconds when you apply full brake. Some of the routes feature such severe gradients (up to 3%) that you will really feel the struggle of your train as it chugs through it. As in the real world, each individual train type has its own characteristics and gives a very different experience. If you want to just enjoy the scenery, though, you can select the "free ride" option, which allows you to crank up the speed and watch the train go wild. In addition to trying to track the timetable, you must also monitor the happiness of your passengers: missing a station or braking too heavily will make them unhappy (as measured by the 'happiness meter' next to the smiley face).
One of the best things about BVE is the plethora of customizations that ensure a strong and growing fanbase. Although it does not have a standalone editor program, editing the game's route, sound, object, and other format files is not difficult, meaning you can incorporate your own routes, trains, and even music and sounds into the game. Although released originally only in Japanese, there is now extensive English language support including an English installer, and literally hundreds of routes and trains made by avid fans. If you enjoy train sims or simulations in general, BVE will keep you entertained for a long, long time. Two thumbs up, way up!
Reviewed by: Underdogs