The Train: Escape to Normandy
for C64

Mr Creosote:
Company: Accolade
Year: 1987
Genre: Action
Theme: Driving / War / Logistics
Language: English
Licence: Commercial
Views: 1874
Review by Mr Creosote (2021-08-21)

In 1964, prolific film director John Frankenheimer gave us The Train. Using the final days of the German occupation of France in World War 2 as a backdrop, it is mainly a series of breathtaking action scenes, full of sweat, adrenaline and thrill. The Train: Escape from Normandy comes without a licence, even though it doesn't just copy the plot premise of a train full of French art pieces heading for Germany hijacked by members of the Resistance, but even goes as far as not really caring much about its own storyline in favour of… action.

Guarded bridge!

Held together by a semi-plannable journey through a not particularly complex railway network and kept busy by the manual mechanics of keeping the steam engine running (down to shovelling coal), any encounter on the way triggers an action scene in the game. Each is fairly simplistic by itself and usually involves some sort of target shooting. Enemy aircrafts approaching? Shoot them down with the front and rear cannons. A bridge has to be crossed? Destroy the guard boats. A station has to be taken? Shoot the guards appearing behind the windows.

It has to be admitted that much of the difficulty stems from the lack of a mouse on the C64. The positional control through the joystick makes aiming slow and a little unreliable; the station scenes particularly almost require foresight to really master, as it cannot really be surmised where the next enemy will pop up.

Aerial attack!

In spite of such restrictions, The Train scores with great graphics, fairly intuitive gameplay and some very lightweight tactics. Do you just run the next station or actually try to take it? Knowing that the risk of the latter will be rewarded by the possibility to send out a call for support to other resistance members, perform repairs on the locomotive etc. Same for deciding about the route, for example to avoid specific scenes which you may not be all that good at (in my case: the fewer bridges, the better).

Considering the short end-to-end play time, motivation is easily sustained this way. In line with a good action movie, it may not stick with you long after in a brainy way, but the journey itself certainly is an entertaining one.

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