With great power, comes great responsibility. In front of me lay the great expanse that is the District Line, and in my hand the “Doors Open” button. This is World of Subways 3: London Underground Simulator, and I am a Tube driver on the first train out of Edgware Road ready to depart.
To be perfectly honest, driving a train is a lot harder than it seems. The first 20 minutes of playing consisted of playing with the switches inside the driver’s cab. I got nowhere besides opening and closing the doors. Resorting to a game manual for the first time in years, it became apparent this was going to be a difficult game to simply while away the time on.
After inspecting the exterior of the train and performing a brake test, I could finally set off, once the automatic announcements had been set up. Throughout this play through, the only sound I could hear was the infamous London Underground Song, along with an increasing feeling of frustration at the fact my own train was late.
Finally, after setting the selector switch to forward, and the traction controller to “shunt”, we were off, slowly. Within 20 seconds, the train was stopped at a red light. So far, the simulator was certainly accurate to my general experience on the London Underground, but in terms of enjoyment on a 1-10 scale, it ranked as practically German.
After informing the passengers of the delay, we were off within several minutes and approaching the next station.
As the train began to brake, one of the beautifully modelled characters walked onto the tracks, vanishing into the front of my train. Rather than wait for the bureaucracy involved in a “passenger action”, I decided it best the train continue without mentioning it.
The game itself is incredibly pretty. It uses an engine that would not be out of place in more mainstream games, and the lighting effects lead to the paranoia that at any moment a zombie could appear as you travel through the tunnels.
But the fact is that, most of the time, driving consists of either being stopped, or being in the process of stopping. The game also features missions, which mostly involve taking the Tube, not driving it, to stations in need of an emergency driver.
Pulling into Hammersmith, where my tube train would finish its journey, and having gone through the mind-numbing shut down procedure for a District Line train, the game presented me with a score. 53 per cent. Apparently I had exceeded the speed limit, not turned on the heating and incorrectly set the lighting.
Luckily, the game seemingly forgot to notice the fact I had killed someone earlier on. So it gave me half marks for getting passengers to Hammersmith with only a couple of long delays.
World of Subways 3 wasn’t created for the mainstream gamer. For most people, this will not count as fun.