Archive for April 2016

Driveclub for Train Spotters

Having recently managed to save up enough to get myself a PlayStation 4 and one of the first thing I did was upgrade the PS Plus version of Evolution Studio’s racing game Driveclub I’d installed on Angel Darksong’s device to the full-fat version. I got quite hooked on the game before owning my own console and so taking advantage of a convenient sale and getting the game at half price was a no-brainer. Basking in the delights of the whole selection of tracks, I stumbled upon a point-to-point race in Scotland that featured a steam locomotive sitting in a station. I didn’t see it at first, as the station lies partially under a bridge, but the after-race track montage showed me where to look, and it didn’t take me long to hunt down the station and the train waiting at it.

The station in the montage

The station in the montage

From a distance the train looked simple enough. Typical “generic steam locomotive” design with three coaches in tow. Getting up close thanks to the replay feature and the photograph tools allowed me to take a much closer look. I was quite impressed at the level of detail I was to uncover for a simple background object that you can’t even see in the race unless you’re looking for it. The locomotive itself was the LMS Standard 5MT design, also known as the Black 5, albeit in red, and it was hooked up to three BR Mk1 coaches in red/cream livery. A fairly typical setup for a preserved railway, if a little short, even if the sight of a red Black 5 was a little out of the ordinary. Then I remembered this was Scotland and therefore probably a nod towards the Hogwarts Express. J.K.Rowling has a lot to answer for.
A look at the locomotive

A look at the locomotive

Once over the colour it was time to look into the details and size them up. First, I was impressed at just how complete it was. Loco, tender, train, with the correct basic shape and most of the bodywork for a Black 5, down to rivets where they would be expected. It wasn’t a perfect match to prototype, but certainly good enough. It was the little details that interested me. Things like the number being in the right font on the smokebox door, and a shed plate being included. The railway company, Northern Kinloch Railways – either a fictional preserved line or a nod to the Dundee and Perth Railway (hush, I can dream), proudly displayed on the tender. The coaches are nice too, featuring numbers of their own. The number of the locomotive is 44971 and she was actually a real member of the Black 5 clan, built on 30th April 1946 and designed by William Stanier. Starting her days in Crewe she didn’t have a long life due to the demise of British steam when she was withdrawn from service on 31/08/1968 and scrapped on 28/02/1969. Her sister, 44871, was preserved and potentially formed the base for this model.
The detailing on the smokebox door

The detailing on the smokebox door

For what it does right, however, there are a few glaring errors and odd artistic choices. First, as nice as the detailing is on the smokebox door, the shed code on the shed plate never existed. 89M is fictional, however 89A to 89C did exist. The codes were for sheds in Wales, not Scotland. 63A was the Perth shed code and is far more appropriate if the loco is to be stabled on this railway, especially in Northern Kinloch livery. 63F could have been created if they wanted to maintain it’s fictional base. There is the argument that a Welsh shed code could reflect the pre-preservation days, but as Wales was very much the turf of Great Western locomotives, with LMS locos rarely venturing into that part of the world let alone being based there.
Motion gear and close up on wheels

Motion gear and close up on wheels

The biggest let down comes when you look down towards the wheels. A lot of the motion gear is missing with bits of the gearing just hovering in mid-air, which seems an odd omission compared to the small details they have included. The largest cardinal sin though is the fact the whole train is derailed. Not a single wheel sits on the rails but instead has the wheel flange sitting on the sleepers on the outside of the rails. Chances are this was because the person who built the world objects was not the same person who built the ground-level scenery (the grounds, roads, and rails) and the scale wasn’t communicated so the train went out of gauge.
Other places the Black 5 can be seen

Other places the Black 5 can be seen

As I said at the start, though, for something that you drive past at over 100mph and not even see this is a very impressive effort overall and I can forgive the errors and shortcomings. To have a mostly correctly modelled Black 5 in the game at all is more than I expected, and the train pops up in the other Scottish courses for an added bonus. The question is, what other PS4 games can give us surprise steam locomotive cameos? Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, I’m kinda looking at you… And no, I will not be making a video about this. I’m not that sad.

Star Fox Zero – The Battle Begins

What’s this? TK making a post about Nintendo AND Animé? What is the world coming to? Well, worry not, the world isn’t going to end or anything like that, but for once Nintendo did a good thing. For the promotion of Star Fox Zero on the Wii-U, Nintendo teamed up with Production IG and WIT Studios to create a 15 minute long animé episode explaining the opening for the new game. Judging from the footage streamed on GT Live (MatPat’s Game Theory live stream channel) it seems the cartoon takes place during the first mission of Star Fox Zero, including setting up some plot foreshadowing for the game. Despite the art style not being my normal thing, I have to say I really enjoyed it so I thought I’d make a quick Gaming News post about it.

If you’ve not yet seen the short, you can watch it below. I advise you do so if you’re a Star Fox fan, and see just how many references and throwbacks to the games you can spot*.



* Yes, “Do a barrel roll” features. Of course it does.

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