The Train: Escape to Normandy

by Imagitec Design Ltd, Nick Wilson, Rick Banks, Paul Butler
Electronic Arts
Crash Issue 57, Oct 1988   page(s) 24,25

Blast nazis and save art

Producer: Electronic Arts
Out of Pocket: £8.95 cass, £14.95 disk
Author: Accolade

You'd be wrong if you thought this was childs-play - The Train: Escape To Normandy is a serious simulation set in the occupied France of World War II. It's 1944. The Germans have stolen France's most valuable art treasures, and are taking them back to the Fatherland on a train.

You are brave French Resistance leader Pierre Le Feu. Mad, you're going to seize the train and deliver its precious cargo to the Allies in Normandy.

The mission starts at Metz station. Your injured colleague, Le Duc, has to change the points on the track while you give covering fire. Germans appear at windows in the station house and fire at you. Ducking to avoid their bullets, you're equipped with a machine gun to knock the smiles off those Nazi faces.

Time to climb aboard the train itself. A multitude of levers and dials faces you, plus a fumace, which can be opened to shovel in coal from the hopper. From time to time, enemy planes attack from front or rear. Switch to the appropriate view and deal a blast of machine gun death to the swooping planes.

One feature which looks strange for a game set in wartime France, is that with the red ground and blue trees it looks more like the planet Mars. But with attacks from the German troops coming thick and fast, I suppose you haven't really got time to admire the scenery.

A map screen shows the position of the train relative to the various stations and bridges, while the report screen shows the amount of damage sustained by the train and its cargo.

Coming to a halt at bridges results in a battle against enemy gunboats, while on stopping at enemy stations, Pierre must again give covering fire to his partner. Once inside, Le Duc can send messages to the Resistance using Morse code.

The Train isn't all about diligently watching gauges, but contains a fair bit of strategy. The three skill levels should help to preserve its appeal, but it's still a challenge on the easiest one! I will say this only once - I like it!

PHIL … 78%

Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: odd-looking red and blue colour scheme for the track, but otherwise effective
Sound: simple spot effects - where's the whistle?
Options: three skill levels to choose from

A few more sound effects would have contributed something to the tension as well - it's a bit disappointing to pull the whistle only to hear... zilch. Still - with three difficulty levels and a strong incentive to get to the end of the journey, this is one iron horse it would be shame to miss.
PAUL [82%]

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Presentation: 79%
Graphics: 79%
Playability: 83%
Addictive Qualities: 74%
Overall: 79%

Summary: General Rating: More of a strategy game than a train driving game, there's nothing quite like it.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 34, Oct 1988   page(s) 90

£8.95 cass/£14.95 disk
Reviewer: Sean Kelly

Le chicketydum. le chicketydee, le chicketydum, le chicketydee, le WOOH WOOOOOOOH!

You're Monsieur Le Feu (That's Mister The Fire to you), brave and fearless hero of the Resistance, who laughs in the face of the Nazi tanks and bombers, and makes rude gallic gestures at them. Your latest venture is, to 'borrow indefinitely' a train filled with French art treasures, and get it to Normandy before sunrise. Why before sunrise? I'm not sure. Perhaps it's a vampire train. But fortunately Monsieur Le Duc (That's Mister... er... The Duck to you) another gallic hero of the Resistance is on hand to provide any chuffin' assistance you might need.

The perilous journey begins at Metz station, where you must take pot shots at the German guards whilst Le Duc is loading up the coal, and checking the tyre pressures. Once the Nazis have been dealt with, you leap onto the train, and begin your journey, which is where the difficulties start. The engine must be constantly checked to ensure that the right pressure is maintained, and the temperature is high; but not too high. Water and coal levels must be monitored, and coal must be used efficiently - shovel too much in at once and the engine boiler gets damaged, too little and the speed begins to fall -not good when you have hundreds of kilometres to travel before daylight. The throttle and various whistles must also be managed, and trying to brake too suddenly will wear the brakes out.

Then, just as you're getting used to sorting this little lot out without crashing, smashing or spontaneously combusting, Le Duc, in his useful helpful manner, tells you that a German 'plane is attacking the front (or back) of the train. When Ducky does this, it's time to man the machine gun and blast the 'plane out of the sky, only to head back to the engine room to find everything going haywire.

There certainly is plenty to do in this game, which is a curious mixture between a shoot 'em up and a simulation. The shoot 'em up sections of the game are straightforward, and fairly tedious.

Simulation fans, though, 'stoke on. All your options are controlled from the joystick, and the engine driving screen is well laid out and easy to manipulate. Attempting to plan a route and keep all the engine parts functioning properly is great fun and ambushes, damaged tracks, and Resistance rendezvous all add to the sense of atmosphere and urgency, and even after three nights continuous play on the easiest level, I never came close to actually finishing the run.

Not a game for arcade fans, but if you're looking for an introduction into the world of simulations, and particularly train ones, you could do worse than this atmospheric romp through wartime France. Trainspotters rejoice!

Graphics: 6/10
Playability: 8/10
Value For Money: 7/10
Addictiveness: 8/10
Overall: 7/10

Summary: Naff shoot 'em up sections, but the train driving simulation and atmosphere more than make up for them.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 79, Oct 1988   page(s) 28

Label: Electronic Arts
Author: Accolade
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Jim Douglas

Zut alors! etc. The Train from E.A. boasts one of the ropiest themes on which to base a game I've ever come across: A huge locomotive stuffed full of French art to be carted off to Germany at the end of WWII, a group of French Resistance fighters (yourself) and as many Germans as you can shoot.

(I don't know how you feel, but personally I won't be that concerned if every piece of froggy art ever contrived were lost forever, but that's all by the way).

What we have is a multi-stage arcade/simulation of stealing, driving and protecting the train on its hair-raising journey from the depot at Metz to Riviere where you meet up with the Allies.

The first stage is a largely uninspiring affair involving moving a cursor around a screen depicting the train in the sidings at Metz. You have to shoot out the Germans who lurk in the windows of the shacks, each time you pot one, one of your fellow Resistance boys will move further up the track towards the signal box. Once he's there he will change the signal to green and you'll be able to shoot off 'dans le train', as they say in France.

The problem in this stage is that the Germans keep shooting back, forcing you to duck their gunfire. Since the joystick only controls the cursor, you've got to hit the space bar every time. Everything gets a bit frustrating, and this stage goes on for ever.

Eventually, though you get on to the main driving-the-train section. The screen now depicts the control 'panel' of the train - throttle, brake, stove etc, just as you start to get the hang of things, you'll notice on your Map screen that you're about to shoot off in the wrong direction, and you'll have to go through an elaborate process of blowing your whistle a number of times to let the Resistance know that you want the points at the next junction changed to the appropriate position.

The Germans don't give up, though. They'll send fighter planes after you and you'll have to shoot 'em down in a 3-D night-gunner scenario (which isn't at all bad). Crossing bridges can turn into a real nightmare. Hordes of enemy boats mill around and you'll have to shoot them down in order to continue.

The Train, it has to be said, isn't the most exciting game in the whole world. While it's well programmed, the initial idea seems to be way off beam. It's nice to look at and would make a great movie (I'm sure it's been done - TH) but a computer game? Whatever next. The Sound of Music?

Graphics: 78%
Sound: 50%
Playability: 60%
Lastability: 70%
Overall: 68%

Summary: Watchable, though thoroughly bizarre arcade/history game.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Issue 17, Feb 1989   page(s) 69

Electronic Arts, £8.95cs, £14.95dk
C64 version reviewed Issue 7 - ACE rating 641

A splash of strategic planning and a fair old slice of arcade action in this train-driving sim cum shootem-up. Good graphics, but still not too much gameplay.

Ace Rating: 641/1000

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 12, Nov 1988   page(s) 53

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £9.95, Diskette: £14.95

Based around the 1965 film of the same name, The Train involves hijacking a German goods train carrying France's national art treasures and riding it back through occupied territory to the safely of Riviere in Normandy. En route bridges are crossed, tracks switched and stations stopped at to refuel and send messages to the Resistance. The Germans send soldiers, enemy fighters and patrol boats out to stop the train in its tracks.

Despite an atmospheric first screen and detailed backdrops in the combat scenes, the graphics are of average quality. Planes and boats lack colour and detail and the game's realism and war-time atmosphere suffer through errors - red ground and blue trees.

The combat sections, while adding variety to the games proceedings, are shallow and undemanding and as such offer little entertainment value. Controlling the train, while hardly complex, has its attractions and is enjoyable within limitations.

The lack of depth in the subsections and low level of incentive to continue with the game once completed were problems encountered in the C64 game, they have unfortunately manifested in this version.

The Train has potential and the idea of combining arcade action and simulation works well. It's a shame the sub-games which play a major part in Nick Wilson's conversion are simplistic, lacking in challenge and very quickly run out of steam.

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Overall: 61%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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