Train Simulator: You mostly either love it or hate it. There are a lot of things it does wrong, but an equal number of things it does right. In my opinion, one of the best things about Train Simulator is the plethora of DLC's you can buy for it. It's been called DLC Simulator of the Year a number of times. Don't let that put you off though! There is no reason to have all of them. There are sales frequently and eventually you'll figure out what types of tracks and locomotives you prefer and stick to those. There is a WIDE variety in both type and QUALITY of the DLC's available. Many of them are not made by TS's parent company. Most of those are the better ones, but not all.
The game itself comes with 3 or 6 DLC's depending which version you get. Unfortunately there's not a ton of variety between them. They're all essentially passenger routes. I personally prefer freight and mountains but here's a little run down on the DLC's it comes with.
The Standard version will come with:
East Coast Mainline London-Peterborough: Well done route. The scenery is quite nice. I'd actually be quite happy with this route except that it's very flat with some country and a lot of city. Typical of many of the UK routes. There is a lot of people that like them tho, just not my thing! My only complaint with this DLC is the locomotive. A Class 365. It's pretty good except for one glaring flaw. If you're going thru snow or rain you can't see anything because the windshield wiper does not cover the window where you're looking. IF there is a way to move your view without going outside the train, I've not found it. For any kind of preciptation it's downright annoying.
Munich - Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Another well done route. I really like the main locomotive that it comes with. The BR 426 is pretty well designed and operates smoothly. The only annoying feature is it appears to be electronically speed controlled at 132 kph or so! I'm sure this is realistic, but when the track speed limit is 160, I'd like to be able to go faster! The route is very well done. It has some small villages and hills and a large city (Munich). Fairly steep hills. Quite scenic. I really like this route!
Northeast Corridor New York to New Haven: This route I have a mixed opinion on. If it ran smoothly it'd be pretty good. It's scenic (as much so as a city route can be) and the Amtrak locomotive it comes with is pretty good. But it's extremely poorly optimized. Running at max quality on my system (1920x1080 res) I only got frame rates in the 20's and low 30's. Occasionally high teens. I have an i7 4930k @ 4 Ghz, 32 GB ram and an R9 290x video card. There is absolutely no reason for poor performance. As a side note, this route also comes with a CSX SD40 tho there are no scenarios for it. You need to either download them from the workshop or make your own. You do see it operating though from time to time.
If you get the Steam Edition, at the time of this writing (It changes periodically), you'll also get:
Pacific Surfliner - L.A. to San Diego: This is a very nice route. It follows the coast of California between the two aforementioned cities. There is at least one good sized hill as well. The only complaint (and it's fairly minor) Is that I had problems with the brakes sticking on the Amtrak PH59 loco it comes with. May have been just me and it's fairly easy to work with once you realize what it's doing so not a huge deal. It really does not detract from this route and I would highly recommend it in general.
San Diego Commuter Rail and Los Angeles Commuter rail: I own these trains but I have not used them. If I remember, when I get to them I'll update this review.
If you've made it through all that, keep in mind there are routes that at least I prefer MUCH more than any of the above available. I won't review them here as I intend to review them on their own pages as Steam now allows.
While there are many things about this game that make it a mixed bag in some respects, remember that most of the people posting negative reviews have hundreds sometimes many hundreds of hours in a game. To me that's a positive review no matter what right there. You're just silly if you've not moved on to a fun game after a fraction of that time. If it's fun, probably others will find it so as well. Even if you spend quite a bit of money on it, if you get 500 hrs out of it, that's a pretty temendous value. Again my opinion :)
+ Tons of content!
+ Pretty good graphics engine. The best of what's available for any Train Simulator that's available currently.
+ Workshop available that has more scenarios than you could shake a stick at. A few routes as well. Lots of really good stuff available as well.
+ Recently an "academy" was added. Ho-hum super easy stuff for many of us who already knew the in's and out's but may be quite helpful for new folks.
+ Tons of Steam achievements for those who collect/enjoy them. Be aware you do need to buy content to get them tho. Most of the DLC's come with 5 to 10 each. The basic game the way you buy it has 50 or 60 probably.. no where near the amount they advertise.
+ New DLC released practically every week. As noted above, most of the new stuff is quite good.
- Some of the DLC's have minor problems. Rarely a major one. The worst I've run across is scenarios that can't be completed. This is rare, and so far I've always found a fix on the workshop. Still, it's a bit shoddy and extremely annoying.
- The horns on many of the locomotives are pretty bad if you care about that kinda thing.
- The company either completely ignores or takes forever to acknowledge bugs in old content. Newer content has far fewer bugs generally, and is updated more regularly. They've taken a step in the right direction there at least....
- This applies to the basic game you buy - Not much content really. They should have included a greater variety. Practically requires a separate purchase.
Also the largest time sink I've found in the last few years :) This game is not for everyone, but particularly if you have a strong interest in trains, I would higly recommend it!