Here is a statement that will raise a lot of eyebrows: I like Euro Truck Simulator 2. The immediate question that follows is “Why would any gamer be interested in driving a lorry?” The answer is not very clear. The market for a trucking sim seems to be non-existent. However, SCS Software has been doing trucking games for the last decade, and they have now created enough quality for Euro Truck Simulator 2 to be something that is worth taking a look at.
With “simulation” in the name, the game needs to at least feel like driving a massive lorry, and it does. Driving a tall box with a twenty-four-ton trailer needs some skills that a standard driver’s license likely will not provide. Acceleration is a slow experience, cornering must be taken with care, and the mirrors will see frequent use to avoid clipping cars, curbs, and road signs. Like real driving, the stress of driving safely is also there. After understanding the fundamentals, it is easy to get complacent and lose focus, right up until your truck crashes into something, causing a repair bill worth a couple thousand Euros. The game really does an amazing job of requiring responsibility, especially in the early times of owning your own truck where mistakes and traffic infractions are costly. Being a PC driving sim, a wheel with pedals controller is much preferred, but the controls are quite good and manageable with a keyboard and mouse.
Euro Truck Simulator 2 excels in delivering the open-road feel. With most of the time spent on highways and freeways, there is a sense of being on the road trip. This is due to the large amount of road available, the built-in Internet radio and music player, and the freedom to roam around when not tasked with deliveries. Like normal driving, the game is interesting only as long as the driver is willing to handle.
You do not start the game with a truck of your own. You start by completing a basic tutorial, then being a “quick job” company driver. This system is great for beginners learning trucking, because if you succeed, you get paid a reasonable amount. If you crash too much and cause too much damage, you do not get paid, but you do not lose money. After a few jobs, you may take a loan, and purchase your own truck. After many hours of work, you will amass enough money to upgrade your initially run-down garage. You will then be able to hire drivers, and purchase more trucks.
There is a decent selection of vehicles, most of which are licensed. As the game progresses, more trucks and upgrades are unlocked. The list of upgrades is very comprehensive, ranging from much-needed mechanical parts to the large amount of accessories. The quality and professionalism of the rendering of the vehicles is quite remarkable. There is a Gran-Turismo-like look and feel to the trucks; it is life-like. Not only is this done to the exterior, but interior as well. Attention to the little details, like fully-animated dashboard start-ups, really adds to the immersion factor. The truck noises sound very authentic, and have exterior and interior variations. While trucks may all sound alike to the casual ear, the development team went through the effort to have variations of sounds among different brands.
Beyond the trucks, the world also got pleasant visuals. It does look like Europe, and at times is beautiful to observe. Traffic cars could have looked better, but they are adequate. The AI handling traffic vehicles is actually quite capable and is much appreciated.
Euro Truck Simulator 2 has an appeal very different from normal driving games. Rather than going for satisfaction through thrills, it is satisfaction through responsibility. It is work-driven progress. Already, that may have limited the audience to a small amount. However, there is a lot to like. The game’s experience makes you feel like you are a truck driver, the detailing to the trucks is great, the driving dynamics feel real, and the feeling after completing a long delivery is satisfying. Despite the problematic dullness of highway driving, Euro Truck Simulator 2 is a good effort.
Final Score: 8.0/10