A train is widely used in video games and can serve many purposes. Because of the ubiquitous need for transportation, trains can show up in many settings.
Some examples of the diversity of where a train may exist in video games:
- in past, present, or future times
- in a real-life story or fantasy
- in space, underground, underwater, or above land
- as a single train or multiple trains per setting
- in simulation, FPS, strategy, RPG, or action/adventure games
Uses of trains in video games:
Trains as a location
Similarly to an airship or boat, a train is often usedas an intermediary between two chapters in a story or as a safe zone. Especially in an RPG, the train may be a spot to save, spend money, and develop the story. It is also used as a complete level in light gun shooters or strategy RPG's. The train's narrow design often makes it unsuitable as the sole structure for an FPS or action game. Examples: Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, Final Fantasy VII, Hellgate: London
Trains as a visual object
A train can show up in the backgruond of a setting or as a visual indication of the start or end of a level. It may also signal the change of location or time. A train (or at least railroad tracks) are often used as a visual object in the ruins of a major city.
Trains as an active object
A train may be used as a means of transportation between a set number of destinations Example: Persona 3
In other games the train is an object that moves through the map at times and kill all in its path. In Team Fortress 2, the train is credited with a kill via a train icon, rather than the weapon type, shown in the upper-right hand corner. In Counter-Strike, the train death is counted as a suicide, similar to falling from a ledge. The expression "Death by Train" is associated with any type of collision death with a train.
A train may also be a divisive tool, used as a moving wall which divides a map into pieces that are unpassable by land-walking characters. Examples: Shining Force III, Half-Life 2
Trains in simulation
Like airplanes and jets, trains are often the subject of a simulation game. Popular to a wide audience, both geographically and age-wise, train simulations vary in their styles and accuracy. Running a single train may be the solitary goal of a game, but managing a network of trains and the economics behind them is more common. Running a train may also appear as a mini-game. Example: Microsoft Train Simulator
The distinction between a train and a tram:
Although their characteristics widely vary, most generally a train is generally large, slow-moving, and person-driven. A tram, on the other hand, may be more maneuverable in smaller spaces, even within a building or building complex, can accommodate far fewer passengers, and has a much more limited range of travel. For example, the moving objects in the opening sequence of Half-Life and the sphere in The Dig are trams. A tram tends to be a tool for the player to travel back-and-forth within a level or world.