There are plenty of niches in gaming and, whether you’re a casual gamer or a hardcore nut, you’ll most likely have favourite genres.
Most come under the shooter / role-play / real-time strategy umbrellas, while others enjoy tactical games, adventure titles or simulations. It’s pretty simple to explain why people take pleasure in the latter.
They offer an experience that’s unattainable by usual means, have complex control methods to keep its followers busy and often have gameplay elements inherently present without a need to flesh out.
Racing or flight simulations are the most common as they have a ludicrous sense of speed and there’s something extremely satisfying about driving / flying such machines.
Now, the hitherto safe world of simulation is ready to be shaken by an unholy new force – trucking.
Supposedly a first for Europe, Euro Truck Simulator is the latest game from SCS Software. Taking place across continental Europe, the sim (rather than calling it a game) lets players create a driver, choose a starting truck and then build up your business to a country-specific hauling company and finally a multinational corporation.
There’s nothing more to it. It’s the finest example of ‘it does what it says on the tin’ that we’ve ever seen. If you can’t / wouldn’t do it in reality, chances are that you’re restricted from doing it in Euro Truck Simulator.
There isn’t frantic speed, pileups on the motorway or smuggling people / drugs. It’s just you, your truck and your destination.
It doesn’t sound thrilling at all. Long-haul trucks have never been top of the 0-60 mph list and there’s definitely no glamour associated with their trade.
With your starting company chosen and your cabin purchased, you’re off on your own. The game gives you some starting hints to welcome those who may be cautiously intrigued by the game, but aside from these it’s the dog-eat-dog world that comes with reality.
From the initial choice of cities, we plumped for Rome. It’s not exactly distinguishable as that and the title’s towns are limited to a couple roads, a garage (for refuelling and kipping), a repair depot and various companies vying for your trade.
You pick one, check the buy-and-sell demand price of various possible locations and hit the road.
Not too quickly, of course. If you run a red light or consistently speed, you’ll find yourself hit with police fines. It gets even more dire if you decide that you want to progress to ramming speed.
It’ll cause damage to your truck, your bank balance and your contract. Euro Truck Simulator really is all about the slow-paced, long distance trucking that it name suggests.
The game places you on the realistically mapped (yet scaled down) European motorway system and lets you work your way to your destination.
Getting there speedily and in one piece will boost your company’s coffers and slowly open up more countries, better goods and more powerful trucks.
There’s respect where it’s due. The game has a structured career mode with milestones, stats and a wide range of possible cargo / companies. You just really have to like trucks.
The game allows you to take the wheel in the cockpit (where the mouse is used to look around / check your mirrors) and the controls take after any usual motoring game. Brakes, wipers, horn, lights, cruise and engine controls are all evident.
You’re welcome to watch the truck in a cinematic mode (but as usual it’s highly un-drivable) or out of the driving seat, which is complicated by the length of the trucks. We went for the control pad method in the end, as it allowed for greater stability when hitting the heady heights of 90 kph.
Graphically, SCS Software has done its very best at giving the best bang for developer buck.
The trucks themselves are detailed to the standard you’d expect, the traffic is varied, if not a little blocky and the environments are the best they could be with the scale in question.
We’d have liked for the cities to have been fleshed out a bit more, but that’s for Euro Truck Simulator expansion packs.
Like trucks? Buy it. Avoid otherwise.