Evening Star

Publisher: Hewson Consultants
Machine: BBC/Electron

Published in Computer & Video Games #73

Evening Star

The mere mention of a steam train can have a curious effect on seemingly normal people. Their eyes glaze over and a tear of nostalgia can sometimes be glimpsed.

I've never quite understood it myself. The same as I can't quite understand the strange urge which forces people to stand for hours on station platforms train spotting. Is it a healthy way to spend your time, I ask myself?

For me, it's the age of the train which causes British Rail to make the going grate. Adding soot and steam to the misery of train travel would be too much!

Evening Star

But not for a vast number of people. And it's with these people Hewson appears to be onto a nice little earner with its steam train simulations. Witness the success of Southern Belle.

Now Hewson is trying its luck again with Evening Star which recreates the journey on the Somerset and Dorset line between Bournemouth and Bath.

And, no doubt, it will be just as successful as Southern Belle. The Evening Star was apparently one of the most powerful steam locomotives to run in Britain. It was, according to Hewson, one of the "legendary" BR9F class.

Evening Star

Well, this simulation allows you quite a few types of journeys over the same seventy miles of track. There's the training run, local non-stop run, local stopping run to Bournemouth, full line record attempt run and a chance to drive the "Pines Express", whatever that is. There's also a demo which allows you to sit back and enjoy the journey.

The screen layout is very much the same as Southern Belle, the large part being taken up with the view of the cab, controls and line ahead. A section on the right contains messages about signals, speed and information about coal and water.

The loco is controlled from the keyboard and the number of keys involved is great. Realistic but a little confusing.

Evening Star

Trains may seem a little tame in the simulation stakes when you think of others around. Don't you believe it. You can still come a cropper by derailing the train by going too fast or hitting the buffers. There's also the chance of colliding with other trains.

So, to sum up. If you bought Southern Belle and liked it, then you'll need no urging to buy Evening Star. If you like trains or ever wanted to be a train driver, check this simulation out.

Me? Well, I'll stick to the 8.05 from Enfield Chase. No simulation could ever truly recreate the horror of that journey!