The RS-11 is an essential addition to our North American steam to diesel transition era (1940-1960) fleet.
The Alco RS-11 was a common sight on American railroads during the 1950’s. Primarily used for hauling freight, it was the main competitor to the EMD GP-9. Evidence of this can be seen in pictures of railroads that bought hordes of both models. Most notably, the Norfolk and Western, Nickel Plate Road, Pennsylvania RR, and the New York Central owned both models; the locomotives often worked shoulder to shoulder on the same trains.
The textures look nice; you can zoom in and see many small features that add to the realism on the model. Braking chains on the engine trucks are modeled (a nice touch), the roof-top cooling fan blades spin, and most notably, the engine exhaust is thick and smoking (Alco’s had thick exhaust plumes and so earned the nickname “unoffical steam locomotives” by railfans).
The sounds are immersive; I have actually been in the cab of preserved and operational Alco RS locomotive before and the sounds of this DLC are very realistic. The prime-mover rumbles and “burbles” like the real thing. Sounds for air-brake applications, sanding, windshield wipers, horn, and bell are all present. Another notable sound effect, the squealing of metal wheels grinding against the rail heads, is a surprising addition and gives the impression of a heavy, powerful locomotive.
The cab is highly detailed with good textures, including the wood grain on the floor-boards. Most of the cab controls are functional. The throttle and brake controls are fully functional as well as those for the headlights, windshield wipers, sanders, horn, bell, and dynamic brakes. There is an engine kill switch so you can start and stop the locomotive prime-mover if you like. Cab windows open and close.
The locomotive comes with four scenarios for Horseshoe Curve with more available in the Steam Workshop and is Quick-Drive ready.
There are some minor flaws with the engine. First off, the head-light switch is labeled “off-dim-bright”. In reality there are only two settings, off and bright. Secondly, the numberboards are not illuminated; there is a switch for it in the cab, but it doesn’t work. Also, if you have two RS-11’s coupled together and then uncouple them and try to turn on the numberboard illumination switch, the numberboards will disappear (a strange scripting glitch, perhaps?)! Additionally, the class lights do not illuminate. These are admittedly minor issues and do not significantly detract from what is an otherwise excellent DLC offering.
While the Pennsylvania RR is the only official livery available for the RS-11, there are many excellent quality reskins for this engine by Micheal Calvin (MadMike1024) that you can get from RailworksAmerica.com
for free, including the Lehigh Valley scheme, which is at home on the HSC, as well as skins for the Southern Pacific (black widow and bloody nose), Burlington Northern, Conrail, and others. These are in the File Library, under Engine Repaints and are easily installed with the Train Simulator Utilities program in your Train Simulator folder.
Additionally, the developer, VirtualRailroads, is also offering a Lehigh Valley version of this engine. The LV engine is set up short-hood forward (the Pennsy RS-11 runs long hood forward) and both models complement each other nicely. The LV add-on is not available on Steam but only on the developer’s website at http://www.virtual-railroads.de/
or through affiliated vendors like Trains and Drivers at http://www.trains-and-drivers.net/.
Beside the minor cosmetic issues and the strange bug with the number boards, the Pennsylvania RS-11 DLC is a good value.
Up to this point, Dovetail games has been mostly focused on modern diesels, to the detriment of “golden era” routes, locomotives and rolling stock. Slowly, this is being corrected. The release of the Alco RS-11 is a step in the right direction. If you are a fan of the North American Steam to Diesel transition period (roughly 1940-1960), and particularly Horseshoe Curve and the Pennsylvania RR, then you need this DLC!
Final Rating: Green Block: All Clear! You may proceed and make your purchase!http://store.steampowered.com/app/222574/?snr=1_7_15__13