I’m always delighted by how fun simulation titles can be. Even mundane jobs can have enjoyable aspects built into their digital facsimiles; gamifying the dull. Euro Truck Simulator 2 certainly enjoys this advantage.
However, in Euro Truck Simulator 2′s case, it’s not necessarily a dull job to begin with, it’s an intriguing one. Just how easy is it to drive these large trucks and articulated lorries? What’s it like to drive from one point of the UK to another, or travel further afield and cross large chunks of mainland Europe? Euro Truck Simulator 2 allows you to find out.
It’s not a 100% faithful simulator though. The two hour drive from London to Dover takes 10 minutes in real time – five if the lights are with you and the traffic is light – and the drive from Dover to Amsterdam add only another 10 minutes to the total. Of course the benefit of this is that it allows you to get on with additional driving jobs in a single play session, but I’d be lying if I said the prospect of an actual 20 hour drive wasn’t an intriguing prospect. Still, the rest of the package does an excellent job of re-creating the truck driving experience.
Sound effects and great visual design and quality do their job of immersing you in the world, and you’ll witness some spectacular sights as you cruise through the countryside of Britain, France, Germany, Poland and more. Meanwhile multiple control methods and transmission options allows you to choice and modify how you drive. You can keep things basic with the keyboard and mouse, with W S A D handling all your steering needs, or you can plug in a gamepad or even steering wheels to add more authenticity. You can even skip the infuriatingly hard parking manoeuvres it tasks you with, if you like. It looks and feels spot on, pulling you into the job-role to the point where you’ll catch yourself looking for side mirrors around your monitor and desk.
Road works, traffic lights, other traffic, winding roads and speed cameras keep you on your toes and encourage you to drive with some degree of realism. However, the AI has a tendency to break your immersion with daft behaviour. It’s not uncommon to get stuck behind a vehicle crawling along way below the speed limit, or pass a whole column of traffic failing to merge onto the motorway from a slip road. Sometimes vehicles hammer on the brakes and cause you to smashing right into them, costing you a fine, time righting your truck, and in the worst cases causing you to roll your truck and cargo. This is particularly frustrating if you’ve not got a save file from before your accident, leaving you to start a profile from scratch due to a lack of a restart option, or forfeit the job for another one, costing you a hefty fee.
However, it’s not all about driving. Euro Truck Simulator 2 tasks you with setting up and running a transport business, taking on jobs and buying trucks, as well as levelling up your driving skills and certificates, which gradually unlock more job opportunities – such as transporting hazardous materials.
Indeed, Euro Truck Simulator 2 does a great job with the driving and aesthetic, immersing you and successfully gamifying the transport business, but some dodgy AI and the odd questionable design choice keep it from become truly exceptional. It’s also undeniably still a niche title. However, I lost hours to driving across the UK and mainland Europe and it gets a strong recommendation from me.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Platform: PC/ Mac Release Date: 19/10/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Euro Truck Simulator for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on a PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.