TrainStation – First Look
Just this month, Pixel Federation launched of TrainStation on Facebook, a game that is advertised as allowing you to experience the history of trains from their very invention, all of the way to the modern, streamlined, and super fast versions of today.
TrainStation begins in the old west, after the invention of the Steam Engine. You’ll be given a fairly sparse Train Station to call your own, along with two starter trains. There are two types of trains in TrainStation: passenger/mail trains and cargo trains.
As you’d expect, the passenger trains can transport both human passengers and mail that you gather over time to other destinations, with these journeys comprising the majority of gameplay. You’ll load mail and/or passengers into a train at your station and send it on its way down the tracks – its destination being decided based on how long you’d like to wait before coming back. The farther the train has to travel, the longer the trip will take, and the more profit and experience points you’ll earn in return.
Cargo trains operate differently, and add another element to your station, in the form of a Loading Dock. You’ll need to first send your trains to the Loading Docks, where they will be loaded up, and then you’ll send them back to your station where you can retrieve your newly earned materials.
Materials come into play when expanding and upgrading your train station. In order to draw more passengers to your station, and therefore keep your passenger trains forever in motion, you’ll be able to upgrade the decorations and buildings surrounding your station by using nails, bricks, and wood that you collect from your cargo trains to build huts, barns, benches, and even tee-pees. This seems to be where Pixel is hoping to forever add new content to the title, as new themes of buildings have been announced.
While you’ll be able to stick with the ready-made trains that are given to you at the beginning of the game, you can also edit and/or assemble your own trains from scratch. You’ll be able to purchase all portions of the train’s assembly (the engine, passenger cars, mail cars, and so on) from the in-game store using coins, and these pieces will stay in your inventory until you choose to assemble a new train. You’ll then simply drag and drop the pieces to form a complete train, with trains being limited to a certain length, based on the power of the engine (an engine with four power can pull four cars, and so on).
As you’d expect, the amount of trains you have access to is level-based, with new trains being available as you level up. You’ll also be able to extend the width and complexity of your train station, either using coins (some upgrades require you to have a certain number of neighbors) or the game’s premium Gem currency.
While most gameplay sessions can last just a few minutes (or less if you happen to come back while all of your trains are still out on a route), you can technically play forever, by simply catching the floating mail packages that appear at random on the gameplay screen. Clicking on these adds a small boost to your mail total – again, mail is necessary for passenger/mail trains, as you must load them with hundreds of units of mail (on average) before sending them on their way.
Graphically, TrainStation’s uniqueness really shows through. The game is presented from a side-scrolling presentation, but you can click and drag your mouse up and down to change the angle at which you view your station. That is, if you click and drag your mouse upward, you’ll see more depth, as you look at the landscape from more of an overhead perspective. Click and drag downward however and things look much more one-dimensional.
It’s unfortunate to say, but right now the game doesn’t really have much going on outside of the few minutes (emphasis on few) you can spend actually interacting with your trains, unloading or loading them with goods, passengers or mail. Experience points are earned at a very slow rate, and it seems that unless you’re willing to spend some premium currency to get what you want in an acceptable time frame, you’ll be spending a lot of time grinding to new levels just to be able to afford new train slots.
In addition, there are a few technical issues to keep in mind, as the game has one of the slowest loading times I’ve seen. Simply loading the game can take at least two or three minutes, which is unheard of in the world of Facebook gaming. What’s more, once the game does technically load, your trains will remain invisible for up to a minute more, leaving you to look at steam and smoke rising from an invisible engine, or pop-up arrows telling you to collect from train cars that aren’t really there.
As TrainStation is such a new game, it’s assumed that Pixel Federation will fix the game’s problems, and even add more content over time, and we can only wait and hope that that will be the case. In the meantime, the game is readily available for all those who’d like to take a trip back to the beginning of railroad transportation, so hop aboard if you’d like to take a ride.