Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Train (Escape to Normandy)

The Train: Escape to Normandy was released in 1988 by Accolade on the Commodore 64. The object of the game is to, at the end of World War 2, steal a German train loaded with priceless treasures and bring it from Metz in the East of France to Riviere in Normandy, all with the help of the French Resistance and under cover of darkness. Of course, you'll have to do a lot of things to get there: take bridges, take stations, use the telegraph to get German intelligence reports and give instructions to the Resistance, battle enemy planes, switch points to get on the right tracks towards Riviere, etc. In the game, you kinda play the role of the aptly named LeFeu (the fire) and you're accompanied by LeDuc, a fellow French Resistance fighter who has all kinds of good info/advice in store for you. You're supposed to reach Riviere by 800 hours the next morning, so there's not that much time to waste!

The main appeal of this game is how well the steam train operating experience has been simulated. Of course, if the game was just the running of a train on a track, it might get a tad boring for the non die-hard train simulation fan. That's why there are tons of things to do/destroy along the way. By its atmosphere (sights and sounds), this game reminds me a bit of "Silent Service", the submarine simulation, although "The Train" has probably a bit more action to offer and is less of a simulation (I mean, have you ever seen a German soldier turn on the light prior to firing his gun when under attack in the middle of the night?).

The game was published by Accolade but it was actually developed by Artech Digital Entertainment, a Canadian company that also made, among others, "The Dam Busters" and "Apollo 18" for the Commodore 64.

In this video, I am just scratching the surface as I don't even attempt to blow the steam whistle. Seriously, there are lots of things missing in this video but I do believe that it gives a pretty good idea of what the game is like. Notice that LeDuc, your "assistant", gives you all kinds of advice/info (the text that shows up at the bottom of the screen) and basically tells you what you should do next, especially when manning the steam engine.

You'll definitely need to go over The Train: Escape to Normandy manual to play the game and enjoy it. Something that's not too clear in the manual is how to succeed in stopping at a bridge or train station: the steam engine must be stopped when it says you are at "0 kilometer" from your objective, not before (although it doesn't hurt) and, most importantly, not after.

1 comment:

  1. A classic game... took me back a few years.