• World Of Subways Volume 1 The PATH

    Review: World of Subways, Volume 1, "The PATH"

    By D.C. Shoemaker
    6 August 2010

    This is part overview and part help for getting started with this unique game. Winner of the "2009 Serious Game Award," Aerosoft of Germany has now produced two subway simulations, the PATH and the Berlin U-7, and they are spectacular. Be aware that some quick-overview reviews imply or say outright that WoS is an add-on for Microsoft Train Simulator; this is not so, the simulator is completely stand-alone.

    I'm running WoS on a moderately powerful laptop. Written in 2008 and released in 2009, the graphics are about state-of-the-art for the time, but you still need a decent machine. This is the most impressive simulation of any kind I've ever seen, including Railworks, Flight Simulator X or Space Shuttle Mission Simulator. It is, however, likely very different from any other rail-based simulation you're likely to have seen. You have control of only one train at a time, with no switching, consist make-up, scheduling or the like. There are AI trains you can run to enhance the realism, with provisions for waiting for conflicting trains and signals, and equipment failures. You have a choice of three car types, several routes and times, and weather. You also have the choice of running one route, or working an entire shift, for which the simulation rules and scoring differ. For now, there are two add-ons, one of which is included in the current version, a 3-D Manhattan skyline, and one that adds scenarios to the basic game.

           

    This add-on has five new missions and additional options for the simulator. With a completely new Mission Module and five new missions you work on train orders outside normal shift duties: take workmen to their site on time, show your ability by driving a train with a defective brake, or take your train for a wash before your shift starts. This package also installs new scenarios including rail workers on the tracks, traffic accidents on the road and close to the tracks, and a burning building. These additional scenes can be turned off or on. When you install the update, it seems everything reverts to German. To fix this, open the Control Panel and uninstall the Expansion Pack. Then uninstall WoS 1.20. Then delete the TML folder. Reinstall the full version with a fresh download that contains v1.20 with all the current updates built in and reinstall the Expansion Pack. Start Wos and everything should be in English. Clearly, work remains to be done. I suspect WoS is a small team.

    While PATH is partly a subway system, it's also partly a surface railroad. The scenery is truly amazing for a 2009 game, and to an extent you have the ability to look and move around in it. For example, start a train from Newark and press the "O" key to follow it through the tunnels and across the bridges to New York City. Unless you're engaged in a free roam, you have a schedule to keep, varying numbers of passengers to take on and discharge, and widely varying speed limits. So while some say all you get to do is drive, that's what a real subway driver does, and I expect you will find that sufficiently challenging.

           

    A number of comments in forums and elsewhere suggest that users have had difficulty getting started with WoS. The instructions were originally written in German, and while the English translation is adequate, finding the information you need to get started can be awkward. You will also occasionally encounter a German term in the game that wasn't translated, such as todman switch, the deadman's switch. I've distilled and paraphrased and just plain stolen what I needed from the instructions, and present them here to either help you or pique your curiosity. It would be a shame to miss out on this excellent simulation because of start-up difficulties. Note that you can reconfigure the commands; with a laptop, this was the only way I could make the train and station announcements play.

    The simulation runs well under Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, but you will want a fairly powerful computer. If your system can run Railworks, you can probably run WoS, but you should review the specifications on their web site. For earlier versions of Windows, the launcher program (WoS.exe) works just fine, but for Windows 7 users, an updated launcher is required. Using the original launcher file in Win 7 seems to produce a memory sharing violation error, possibly due to Windows 7 running a 32-bit emulator in a 64-bit system. For some reason Aerosoft has not yet made this file available for direct download from their site, but if you request the access-share-violation version of WoS.exe from the support forum at the maker's site you can get it in less than 24 hours; technical support is not Aerosoft's forte. There is also a patch that affects the operation of one of the display panels that you should probably install called "visual_indicator_air_condition.zip" from the Download section of the main site. I downloaded my version of the game from an on-line distributor. My understanding is that the patches are required regardless of what version you buy; this may change in future packages/releases. To start the download version of World of Subways an online registration is required; the PC running either the downloaded or boxed game version requires an active Internet connection to register the game, but after that, no Internet connection is required. It's possible to register via e-mail, but I didn't try that option.

           

    Following are the main keys you have to use, in the order to use them to start the train. Note that because I use a laptop, the number pad keys have been reassigned to regular numbers. This is done under "Game Options."

    Main Key Summary (in order of use):

    K for A/C
    SPACE for dead man's switch
    PAGE UP for direction
    LEFT ARROW to release brakes
    NUM 7, 8 & 9, then F3
    F1 / F2 to close doors (L/R)
    UP ARROW to accelerate
    L for lights
    H for horn
    O outside cab

    You must be in the cab to drive, but once underway you can use the "O" key to view the outside of the train and its surroundings; most impressive. Direction control and power levers are set to idle to begin with. Press "Page Up" to set the driving direction forward; "Page Down" sets it to reverse if you need it. Pressing "K" switches the air conditioning system on; this should remain on during the entire journey. Set the destination (F8) so that passengers know where the train is going; the CTRL key toggles the mouse pointer to allow you to move into the display panel.

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