By now, most PC gamers own at least one awful simulation game, they’re a bit of a ‘in-joke’ on this platform and there seems to be a new obscure niche title every week (Forestry 2017 – The Simulation review coming next week) but that’s not to say that there aren’t a few gems in this genre, and Euro Truck Simulator 2 is one of the best examples of this.
I’ve played countless hours of this game since its release back in late 2012 and I must admit, I was firmly in the ‘I don’t get it’ camp for a long time, until I tried the demo, and played for 3 hours without noticing. 80 + hours later, and I’m still playing this over SCS Software’s newer title American Truck Simulator. That’s not to say that their newer title is inferior, but this game is currently the more complete package. Another good point worth noting is this games price is fairly cheap, with frequent discounts, so now is a better time than ever to delve into this surprisingly deep simulation.
The first few hours of this game you’ll find yourself only able to take quick jobs from various suppliers, which usually means that you’re driving a specific truck from a specific depot, and, whilst is can be a bit tedious, you will soon be able to afford your own truck and with it, your own depot. You can just take out a loan straight away and buy a truck right off the bat if you don’t fancy the sludge of the first few contracts of course. Once you get your depot, which can be placed in a variety of cities (I stayed loyal and picked Cardiff) you can then start taking jobs for yourself. Company names are fake (though this can be changed with mods) but the majority or trucks in the game are fully licensed and the cities you travel to, at least the ones that I’ve been to in real life, are well realised.
Distances and travel times are obviously shortened, so don’t worry about the 8 hour trek from Cardiff to Calais, the longest job I’d ever done had taken around 90 minutes which was one of the higher paying jobs. There’s plenty to keep you occupied throughout your journey too, you’ll see digital recreations of landmarks and structures such as a severely shortened Severn Bridge for example. On top of this, once you get out of the UK and head into more of Eastern Europe, the entire road system and terrain changes, in short, you won’t be driving in a straight line for extended amounts of time.
Perhaps my favourite feature is the option to have internet radio stations integrated into the game. The default selection is all obscure internet-only stations that play a variety of genres, but through the use of tutorials it is possible to get the big boys like Radio 1 or Talksport blasting through your truck cabin whilst you cruise up the M6, it’s a small thing, but one of my favourite features to use.
After you start to turn over a hefty profit (and pay off that pesky bank loan) you can then get into the business management side of things, a surprisingly deep company management simulation where you can hire and assign drivers to various jobs throughout Europe, it’s incredibly streamlined, and soon enough you will have you very own fully fledged shipping company to rival Eddie Storbart’s. The real fun is in the driving and completion of jobs yourself though, and in particular with the new expansion packs that have been released, travelling throughout Europe is a serene and relaxing endeavour. Be warned though, you can get fined for speeding, running lights, and bumping into other vehicles on the road, which in particular can be frustrating as the AI does like to undertake and cut you up frequently, and if you do manage to knacker your truck by continuously crashing it, it will cost a small fortune to repair, drive carefully folks.
Graphically, the game is fairly good, it’s not a looker by any means, and there’s a very distinct ‘budget’ feel to the visuals, but for a simulation game it’s actually one of the better looking titles out there. The game runs like a dream on the highest settings, and crashes are infrequent, you will see some stutter as you enter some of the bigger cities in the game, but these are hardly noticeable. It’s worth noting that you can use a steering wheel or a controller with this game as well as the standard keyboard and mouse, but I personally found that using the WSAD keys to steer and the mouse to look about the cabin as the most effective method of controlling your truck.
There aren’t many simulation games that are worth spending your money on in all honestly, I could probably count them on one hand (Farming Simulator 15, Surgeon Simulator if we’re being loose with the term) But Euro Truck Simulator 2 proves that this isn’t just a genre full of shovelware. Yes, American Truck Simulator is newer, nicer looking and has better production value, but you can’t beat the charm of driving throughout the UK and Europe whilst blasting out Annie Mac on your cabin radio. A great way to kill some time, and a fantastic example of how to make simulation games fun.
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