Long haul truck drivers and game reviewers are alike in many ways. Both vocations demand long hours spent seated in cramped, box-like conditions as we stare blankly ahead in an almost zombie-like trance. We share equally appalling diets consisting of Maccas drive through, energy drinks and any other calorie dense, hopefully caffeine-laden foods which can be scoffed down using one hand and with a minimum of fuss. We both understand the pressures that deadlines and quotas can impose, and like the consummate professionals that we are, we think nothing of striving to achieve these even if they are at the expense of our health, families or social lives.
So it should come as no surprise that when I saw a consignment of Euro Truck Simulator 2 being backed into the digital loading docks of Steam’s online store, care of SCS Software, that I immediately dug out my best tattered blue wife-beater. I fished out my high-vis safety vest from underneath my bed and took a short jaunt to the local pharmacy for a bottle of those over-the-counter, totally legal, wake-up pills. Now all I need is a gigantic, unkempt beard and a two-way radio call sign.
Euro Truck Simulator 2 is exactly what it claims to be: a truck driving simulator set in the diverse environs of continental Europe (and the UK). Your freight hauling adventure will take you from the Scottish lowlands to lower Silesia to northern Italy and everywhere in between, all care of the European Union’s extensive and well maintained network of roads and highways. Along the way you will discover new business opportunities, vendors and places of interest, all the while being able to enjoy the majestic beauty of the (virtual) European countryside as you zoom by at 90km/hr.
You begin as a trucker without an employer; a freelancer of the logistics world who hires his skills out to firms delivering everything from oranges, to ice cream sandwiches, to car parts. As you accumulate proficiencies, earn skills and acquire Euros, you’ll be given access to better paying hauls, a more diverse range of cargos, six figure bank loans and the opportunity to purchase your dream truck and be your own boss.
Whether you’re driving your own tricked out truck complete with custom paint job and more electrical lights than most African towns or just another battered up old renter where the only thing more numerous than the nicks in the paint are the mysterious stains on the upholstery, one thing is for sure: you will be driving. A lot.
Thankfully, the driving aspect of Euro Truck Simulator 2 is simple to learn and highly intuitive. A fact which is aided immensely by the number of options this game gives you when deciding how complex and hence difficult you would like your driving experience to be. It can be as simple as pressing W to move forward and S to slow down, all the way to control schemes which require the use of peripherals such as steering wheels. Married to an easy-to-use interface and a comprehensive tutorial component, this makes Euro Truck Simulator 2 the perfect blend of accessibility, realism and fun.
The physics engine does an admirable job of conveying the feel and the weight of such heavy and ungainly vehicles. Whether you’re making a sharp turn in a tightly congested city street, flying down a rainy pitch black highway in the middle of the night or attempting to line your trailer up to a waiting loading dock, Euro Truck Simulator 2 makes it all feel and respond in a very realistic way.
Vast stretches of open highway has always invoked in people feelings of freedom, and this game is much the same. Whether you are a model motorist or a highway pariah, you and your style of freight delivery will find a place on Europe’s asphalt arteries. Speed limits, red lights and lane directions can either be disregarded entirely or obeyed down to the letter – all that matters is that you get those precious crates of processed cheese down to the store on time!
This is perhaps one of the only parts of the game in which I can find any sort of fault. Either the European Union’s road rules are as lax as their laws on weed and prostitution, or SCS Software did not deem it fit to implement a particularly robust law enforcement system. Traffic infractions will cost you money, but apart from the small monetary disincentive, there is no reason not to charge down the wrong side of the road when the coast is clear if it’ll shave a few minutes off your delivery time.
However, could this really be considered a fault? After all, this IS a video game, and the point is to have fun and do what you would not be able to in real life. Nobody ever faulted Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000 for letting you barrel roll a 747, even though flight safety agencies the world over are unanimous in condemning the practice as “irresponsible” and “highly distressing to passengers”. Plus if you’re really keen on being Herr Model Driver, then there is absolutely nothing stopping you from doing so anyway!
Another part of the game which could have been improved upon is the cities; even major metropolitan areas have the area and density as medium sized towns. However this is almost a non-issue as a vast majority of your time will be spent on the almost endless highways. There is even talk now of an expansion pack which will open the roads and highways of Eastern Europe to Euro Truck Simulator 2. This reviewer, for one, is looking forward to the opportunity to haul containers full of counterfeit jeans, vodka and prostitutes across the vast snowy steppes of Russia as Spencer Davis Group blares out of the truck’s radio.
- Reviewed On