As a fan of Euro Truck Simulator 2, I have been anticipating the launch of American Truck Simulator for some time. Europe was great, but I was intrigued by the idea of driving across the United States in a big rig. Even more so, doing it in a classic American truck, hauling cargo from Chicago to New York, or one of many other cities. Unfortunately, American Truck Simulator isn’t without its faults, some of which make for a less enjoyable experience than I was hoping for.
While California and Nevada have some fun cities to drive through, their surroundings are mostly desert and more often than not, not very interesting to look at. As with Euro Truck Simulator 2, the environments are compressed compared to their real-life counterparts. Making a trek from San Francisco to Las Vegas—an eight-hour drive—is relatively brief in-game. That said, the environments, even if being mostly deserts, do contain more visual detail than the Europe locations seen in the past. The coastal region, San Francisco in particular, looks absolutely fantastic. The cities also feel more alive with denser traffic and more peripheral activity, in the form of helicopters flying above and police patrolling the streets.
Even with only two states at launch, there is plenty available to keep you trucking along. For starters, there is an endless amount of contracts available around California and Nevada to haul everything from new cars to gasoline. Many of the new cargo types required longer trucks compared to the previous game, which makes both turning around corners and parking at destinations more challenging. Players also need to be aware of getting fines from police, who are keeping an ever vigilant watch for traffic offenders. Fines from hitting other cars or going over the speed limit seem more expensive than with the past game, which makes keeping hard-earned money a bit more challenging.
In terms of control schemes, American Truck Simulator has several available options. From controlling the camera with the mouse and the truck with your keyboard, to using a full driving wheel setup, various customizable layouts are on offer to pick from. While a full driving wheel is obviously ideal, mouse and keyboard control works well enough to not hinder gameplay. Although there were a few points where turning a particularly tight corner seemed to be made more difficult by the use of the keyboard and mouse. Steam Controller support was surprisingly solid, employing a combination of sticks, buttons and gyro motion to control the game.
The game does a great job with its menu system of highlighting the pros and cons of each control scheme, where they lie between simplicity and degree of control, which should make picking out a control scheme a far less daunting task for new players. The game does offer a quick tutorial to teach you the basics at the beginning; however, I still felt it took me a while before I was competent in using both the controller and mouse and keyboard, so I would suggest picking a control scheme and sticking with it throughout your time with the game.
The game has realism written all over it. You steer, accelerate, reverse, use headlights, set the headlights, rest when tired, pay fines from the police, and much more. However, while these can all be great for anyone that’s aware of what they’re getting into, the difficulty can be off-putting. You won’t realize how conditioned you are to cause mayhem in a video game more than when you have to follow the law in order to not go bankrupt. It’s robust in its offerings and that’s not including the business side of things, where you will run your own garage with drivers for a steady income.
American Truck Simulator is as hard-core as a truck simulator gets. It’s relatively easy to get into, but hard to master gameplay makes for an interesting and deeper gaming experience than that of its more simplistic driving game rivals; such as Forza or Driveclub. However, I cannot help but feel that this isn’t as big of an improvement over its European counterpart that I was hoping for. Saying that, If you are looking for a deep, challenging and immersive simulator to keep you occupied for hours at a time, this is the game for you.
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