Commercial Bus Simulator Review



CityBus Simulator Munich


Publisher/Developer: TML Studios
Description: Real Simulation of a CityBus in Munich
Software Source / Size: Download / 3.4GB (3.4GB when installed)
Bus Simulator: TML Studios
Reviewed by: Tércio Sampaio
Published: January 23th, 2013


Computer / Software Specifications
Computer System: - Intel i7 920 2.4GHz
- 6 GB RAM
- ATI/AMD Radeon HD6970 2GB
- TM Hotas Cougar + TM WCS + CH TQ + Track IR
Software: - Windows 7 Ultimate x64




















Introduction

There exists many platforms and types of vehicles in the large world of simulators for Personal Computers (PC). Last week I was trying out a CityBus simulator. The fun factor here is about driving without the sometimes stressful races, typical in car simulators. Here the fun is feeling that you are doing something useful, like working at a job. The same feeling as if you are piloting an aircraft, doing all the things correctly, and using real flight plans. The simulator that I used was CityBus Simulator 2 - Munich.

The company that developed it is TML-Studios. It's not the first product from them and the company started to be noteworthy in the world of simulation with their subway/metro, old tram simulators and add-ons for the MSTS (Microsoft Train Simulator). The CityBus simulator - Munich is not their first Bus simulation. Previously they'd released the original CityBus Simulator-2010 – New York Manhatten.

The objective of this CityBus Simulator 2, compared to their first version, CityBus Simulator 2010, not only provides different routes, but also creates a new and better product. The bus line, as the name suggests, is based on a real representation of a bus line in Munich.


Installation and Documentation

The installation process is simple and easy. It has an installer wizard and you only need to specify the correct folder to install, language and the email with the associated key code for copyright protection. After the main installation, the Aerosoft Launcher tool is automatically installed. You use this tool to activate the product, using your email address and associated key code.

The documents provided are 2 manuals in PDF format, one in German and another in English. Both manuals have 84 pages. The manual that I read was in English and covers the following areas:
- Small introduction to this simulator.
- Description of the installation process, including the further activation using the Aerosoft Launcher tool, with great detail.
- Full panel description including the display, the pilot lights and warnings.
- Full description of the menus.
- Tutorials.
- Tips to configure the simulator correctly to get good frames per second (FPS) in a not so powerful PC.
- Tips and how-to's for creating custom bus paints.


The manual covers almost everything you need to start driving and make full use of this simulator. Sad to say that some tiny things, like the retarder system and other internal systems. require some further reading in other places such as the malfunctions menus. With the huge amount of detail and complexity in some areas of this simulator, I think that a more detailed manual would have been very welcome. Anyway what we have will give us a very good start. I also noticed that some pictures in the English manual were taken using the German version of this simulator. It's not a major issue although it would be better if it was full English.


First impressions and Menus

I had many first impressions of this simulator. The first time I ran the CityBus Simulator (from here on known as CBS2), I saw a small, tiny circle with many buttons but only one is enabled. I immediately think that maybe in future the TML Studios are preparing some DLC’s or expansions to enable the disabled buttons. When I click on the enabled button in the circle it takes me to the main menu and I see many sub items. The first thing I noticed was the non traditional type of menus and animations. I personally liked them, but sometimes with so many animations you might prefer a more traditional menu system.

I go through all menus and find that the levels of customization of your bus are impressive. I recommend that you look at the details the screen shots provide to give you an idea of what you can change in your bus. For example, the levels are so detailed that you can even change the consumption of the starter or the multiple pressure parameters of the air compressor. With these menus you can change the status and working stage of each system and sub system of your bus. You can also repair them or simply simulate specific faults which enables you to see and simulate the corresponding situation.

Regarding damages and faults there even exists a special menu to enable random damages to systems. Here, you can configure the level of these random damages, from the minor ones to more major, that could compromise the success of your trip.



The menus also cover the creation of a driver profile and in a dedicated menu you can check all the statistics about all of your driving faults of your last trip or in all trips. The levels of this simulator are so high that you can even change in detail, the weather of each month. According to the predefined weather, day and hour of simulation and with a random factor you will have a plausible weather in your simulation. The change of the weather affects the simulation visually as well as physically with special effects.

For example, the existence of ice or rain will change the experience of your bus on the road, and the low temperatures will make condensation on the bus windows if you don't have the correct temperatures inside. About the level of realism, it's important to mention that this simulation was developed in close collaboration with MAN Lion (designer and manufacturer of the real world bus depicted in this simulation) and the MVG (Münchener Verkehrsbetriebe - The Munich Transport Company). There were only very few tiny things which were slightly simplified because security reasons.

Everything you do here has consequences. The environment, the weather, your driving style and the way you use your bus. Any or all of these items will change the status of your bus. So you need to think and act like a real bus driver in a professional way. This increases a lot of the realism of this simulator and gives you a feeling that you are not in a game but in a real bus.

You also have the traditional menus to configure the options of your simulator such as the graphics, sound and controllers.
Talking about controllers, I have the Logitech G25 wheel, its one of the best wheels for PC. The default configuration settings of the CBS2 do not activate this wheel. I needed to spend around 1 hour of tests to get this wheel working correctly. This was not only because of the wrong default settings, but mainly because some words in the controllers settings menu were, as far as my knowledge goes, translated improperly from German to English. Also, the tech support for the G25 in the TML-Studios website was not a big help. This support document is only in German and the pictures shown have some options that were wrong for this wheel to work correctly in CBS2.

I also noticed that this simulator doesn't support multi controllers at the same time. You can’t even change to another controller. It only works with your primary controller. If your wheel isn't the primary controller, you need to change it in the operation system devices controller panel. For the virtual drivers that don't have a wheel controller, this simulator is much better than the standard driving simulators. In this mode of driving you have multiple options and configurations trying to emulate as best as possible the bus driving wheel with keys.

As this simulator has no missions or campaigns, it's in pure sandbox mode. It would be nice if in future upgrades, the driver stats reports could also have driver successes and not just the driver faults.


Driving Experience

After configure everything, including my wheel, I started to drive it like a real bus driver. First I trained and tested all the systems on the test scenery that's included. It was great. You don't simulate the bus but the bus driver. You started with him outside the bus and then you move him close to the bus and open the door, check inside all things and later sit in the drivers position. Then you need to turn on and configure the bus according to trip specifics and the weather situation. If you follow all the steps that are needed to prepare the bus for the start of the trip, you'll quickly find that it's not an arcade game but a real simulator. I loved the experience. This test circuit, as the name says, is very good and well made to test a lot of road situations and to test many malfunctions and see the corresponding bus reaction. Some malfunctions also have visual effects, such as the black smoke coming from the engine.



Its not an easy bus simulation, but don’t worry. CBS2 has 3 interactive tutorials that explains everything you need to correctly operate this simulator.
The CBS2 comes with Munich's scenery and the test circuit. The Munich scenario is a very realistic and amazing representation of a large bus line in Munich, the 100 line, also known as the Museum line. All the major buildings and the layout of the scenery makes it appear that you are there. It also includes the 22 museums that this line crosses or passes. In Munich scenery, I chose a bus, pre-configured it and drove following the instructions provided from the central (central is the same as the central station or if you wish the remote station that controls and dispatch bus trips. See it as the ATC + dispatchers for buses). The CBS2 includes 3 main buses: 2 door, 3 door and an articulated version. Also important to mention is that all buses can be configured with different engine types, giving you many versions. The first time you choose a bus and scenery, you need to pick a starting point which is typically in the garage.

If you've chosen the weather and the time of the day, you're ready to enter the bus and prepare your trip. In this bus simulation there's an awesome and very well reproduced copilot, exactly as the real one. This copilot is nothing more than a tiny computer screen on the right side of the driver's steering wheel, like a drivers GPS. After viewing all of the screens, I'll say that it's an amazing system. After you log in there, using your drivers credentials that exist in your profile, you have multiple functions and options for this copilot. All informational signals, communications to the central and trip information are controlled or provided in the copilot.



The trip(s) that you receive from the central through the copilot aren’t always the same and there are many random incidents to add to the playability of this simulator. The incidents can include traffic jams and traffic accidents. Every time you finish a trip, the central communicates with you giving you another trip. You can do as many trips in sequence as you want. Don’t forget that its a sand box simulator. For those who aren’t’ familiar with the term “sand box simulator”, let explain that a little more in detail. The name sand box describes a game mode where you don’t have any objective prescript or predefined assignment. For example, you can enter a bus, and only drive to explore the roads, making trips, or whatever you want … it’s finally your choice thus without any goal!



I did many trips and really enjoyed the experiences. When you have a trip assigned, you have GPS help which helps you from driving into the wrong street. The GPS also provides information about where the bus stops are located. That's important because the bust stops can change according to the trip. When I was driving, I could see the very nice features of this simulator. There are realistic situations and events like drunken passengers or passengers that arrive a little late and knock the door in the hopes that you open it.

This simulator world is not sterile. You have traffic that follows the traffic signals, people walking and crossing roads on signals. The graphics of the scenery are very good and plausible. Some places could be better, but in a general way I liked them very much. I noticed that in Christmas days the city also have the Christmas lights on streets and trees. It was very pretty to see. One example of random events happened when I was making a trip and suddenly I received a warning from the central. That warning was a traffic jam caused by a big traffic accident. I was really surprised to see that at the accident location, there were 2 cars crashed and burning.

The sounds on CBS2 are very good. The engine, people, radio warnings, signals, were recorded from real life and gives you an realistic experience. The interface while driving is very good. There are shortcuts to go to predefined locations on the driver's panels to have easy access to the drivers buttons and knobs. Everything works as in the real bus. For example, you can manually adjust all mirrors and the air conditioning and acclimatization system are perfectly reproduced.



About performance, in my PC I had to lower the quality of shadows and the view distance just a bit to have higher frames per second in highly dense parts of Munich. Anyway, it didn't remove the beauty of the scenery and gave me very good fps. Adding together all the graphics, sound, realism and interaction, gave me a very impressive experience, and I felt the stress and the experience as if I was in a real bus in Munich. Everything about driving the bus was lots of fun.


Summary

There aren't that many bus simulators out there,but this one, the CBS2: Munich, is one of the best and most real bus simulators I've seen. It has excellent graphics, a great sound and a high level of detail and realism. I recommend this simulator for all bus lovers and to people that want to try something different than only transport people through air.

More information can be found at TML-Studios, and at Aerosoft dedicated page including the official trailer, but more important, the product itself. The boxed version cost you 29,99 Euro (or approximately 37,00 US$) and the download 29,95 Euro (approximately 37,00 US$) as of this publishing date.

With Greetings,
Tércio Sampaio


This review is written for Aerosoft Sim News and published via the Aerosoft website. While the reviewer has complete journalistic freedom, we ask the reader to keep in mind where the review is posted.