The Southern Pacific Cab Forward DLC is what we need for Train Simulator; Big, mainline, North American steam locomotives. The Southern Pacific Railway was the only railroad to own the iconic engines and operated them primarily on their Donner Pass Route. Because of this, you may want to buy the Donner Pass DLC to get the most out of this loco.
This DLC is by Gtrax, the same conent creator that brought us the SP GS-4, NKP S-2, and S.P.& S. E1. The Cab Forward is a good DLC with many features to recommend it.
Like the older Gtrax engines, this one is a good likeness of the prototype. The textures on this DLC seem to be a little bit better resolution that on the original locomotives. One deficiency it shares with the older locomotives is the use of two-dimensional rendering of smaller rivets like those found on the boiler casing and the tender. However, the larger bolts like those on the smokebox and superheater header access hatch are fully three-dimensionally rendered with nuts (very nice attention to detail). Another nicely detailed exterior feature includes the buckeye trucks on the tender (again, nice attention to detail). In a distinct improvement, the compensating lever (throttle reach-lever on the engineer’s side) is animated and working: watch it move as you adjust the throttle (very nice). The only visual bummer for me was the fact that Gtrax still did not animate the power reverse reach-rod and radius rod for the valve gear.
The engine has working headlights and tender back-up lights. However, like the older Gtrax DLC, the class lights are not independently operated and only turn on with the headlight a shortcoming which I find to be disappointing. Additionally, the color of the class lights can not be changed; they are always on white (extra/unscheduled); again this is also disappointing.
Cab interior looks good and has all of the important gauges and levers working. The cab has working lights and gauge lights. All windows open and unlike the older Gtrax Locomotives that had a glitch where the windows would not appear open from the outside, that is no longer an issue on this engine.
Like it’s predecessors, it has some of the best smoke and steam effects in the game, adding immensely to it’s immersion factor. However, like it’s predecessors, I have a few minor nitpicks with these:
1) The emitters for the injectors and feedwater pump are not aliased to the HUD and so they never shut off; they should only be on when you are using the injectors/feedwater pump.
2) The cylinder ♥♥♥♥♥ exhaust when you hit the “C” button (open cylinder ♥♥♥♥♥); they shouldn’t start to exhaust until the regulator (throttle) is opened.
3) The boiler safety valves are always on. On newer models like the Pennsy K4, they “pop-off” when maximum boiler pressure is reached and then shut off again when boiler pressure drops.
It’s sounds are good, if not great, on par with the older Gtrax locomotives. Whistle (not quillable), bell, clanking side rods, and the cross-compound air pump exhaust are all included. The best and most important of these is the exhaust; it sounds fantastic. What’s more, attention was paid to the fact that this is an articulated locomotive and so has a distinctive exhaust. A two cylindered locomotive will “chuff” four times per revolution of the driving wheels. On an articulated locomotive, there are two sets of cylinders; the front and back engines will each “chuff” four times per revolution of the drive wheels. The cool thing is that the front and back engine will get out of step with one another, causing a staccato rhythm, 8 “chuffs”. In railroad vernacular, this is called “hitting a double lick”. Gtrax got this detail down perfectly. The other U.S. articulated steam locomotive DLC, the Union Pacific Challenger and Big Boy got this part wrong; their sounds were from a simulated 2 cylindered locomotive, and a poorly produced one at that.
The locomotive has a basic and advanced operational mode. You can run it with the cab controls or the HUD. Also, you can turn the automatic fireman on or off. I prefer to run with the fireman turned off because he isn’t very good. Besides, the engines were made to be run via the HUD so running and firing is not as hard as it first sounds; you will get much better performance out of the locomotive this way.
Speaking of performance, this locomotive is far better than the older Gtrax DLC locomotives. The older models did not have enough tractive effort or boiler horsepower. They could not start a heavy train nor sustain high speed like their real-world prototypes. The Cab Forward is the polar opposite; it can start a train and keep running with it, although on Donner Pass you are going to have a difficult time keeping it moving because gradients and curvature are so severe.
This DLC comes with 5 Scenarios. It also comes with late steam-era rolling stock as well, including “Pacific Fruit Express” refrigerated box cars in Union Pacific and Southern Pacific livery, as well as Western Pacific and Southern Pacific Boxcars. There is also a Southern Pacific Caboose with interior detail. All of the rolling stock is period appropriate and nicely detailed, a real bonus for this DLC and something that should be included in ALL locomotive DLC.
This DLC is one of the best packages offered for North America and one of the best values in the game. Gtrax have really stepped up their game on this one; visual details are good, sounds and features work, and the included scenarios and rolling stock really makes this a good value and a must buy. If you like North American Steam locomotives then you need this DLC.
…If only the RSC Challenger and Big Boy had been this good…sigh
Final Verdict: Green Block: All clear! You may proceed and make your purchase!http://store.steampowered.com/app/208292/?snr=1_7_15__13