Euro Truck Simulator 2
Let’s get one thing clear before I go on about my career as a simulated truck driver…I’m an accountant by trade. I drive a Honda Civic, and I have never touched a manual transmission in my life. I’m not a fan of driving in unfamiliar places and I prefer to stay within my zip code, if at all possible. Needless to say, I’m the perfect candidate to try out a truck driving simulator. No, I’m serious…if someone like me can enjoy a game that involves driving a large, bulky truck over far distances, then you might as well put that on the box. While FedEx may not be hiring me anytime soon, I do expect to be playing this game for a good, long while. Before I get into why, I’d like to thank Pavel Sebor, the CEO of SCS Software, for providing me with a free review copy.
The game will take you through the motions of creating your very first profile on startup, bypassing your usual menu screen. Not to worry however, you’ll be able to access all of the game’s options at any point in-game, but more on that later. Your profile can be customized in a number of ways: player name, company name, company logo, the picture of your character (preset pictures only), and prefered language. You’ll also be able to create more than one, should your family / kids want to try their hand at driving a truck.
After that, you’ll be allowed to choose your main control scheme. You can use a combination of the mouse and keyboard or choose to go with whatever controller you have hooked up, be it a steering wheel, gamepad, or joystick. For the purposes of this review, I chose the keyboard setting. Once you choose a control scheme, you’ll have your choice of four different gearboxes. I chose the “simple automatic” which does all of the work for you. Finally, you’ll be able to choose your starting city, or where your HQ will be located in. Right off the bat I have to say that I appreciate the wide range of options that players have available. Casual players like myself can enjoy an easier control scheme while those who are used to these sims can jump into the more complex gearboxes with ruthless vigor.
Once you are able to access the menu, you’ll be able to set your game options (among other things). The options menu will allow you to customize your keybinds, set your video and audio settings the way you’d like, and change the gameplay options to suit your play style. I really liked having the ability to change the unit of measure seeing as how I’m used to miles per hour as opposed to kilometers per hour. There is also a fatigue mechanic that you can toggle on and off and a slider for rain probability. I didn’t see a slider for traffic, though after some playtime, I felt that the amount of traffic was well-balanced.
Your character profile is unique in that you’ll gain experience points and level up, allowing you to assign skill points to a skill tree of sorts. Most of these skills unlock the ability to haul certain cargo or provide bonuses to the amount of money you’d earn doing so. There are some others like the eco-driving tree that help reduce the amount of fuel you’ll use. I personally like having skill trees available as it gives me a reason to keep playing while encouraging me to improve.
Another feature on the menu screen is the ability to customize your radio one of two ways. You can stream internet radio or copy audio files to a particular folder, which are then picked up by an in-game music player. The former requires that you edit a text file and the latter involves moving audio files around on your hard drive. I must admit, it was oddly satisfying being able to listen to Steven Sharp Nelson from the Piano Guys shred his cello to pieces while I avoided doing the same to the four-door sedan that merged into my lane at the last minute. While I applaud the devs for having this feature, I found it easier to just mute the music in-game, alt-tab, and load up my music the old-fashioned way. Perhaps if accessing internet radio sites and your music files in-game could be made to be a bit more user-friendly, I’d make use of it.
There are plenty of features on this menu that will add to your play experience and more become unlocked as you progress through the game. In the beginning, you’ll only have a few play options available. After a while, you’ll have access to a bank to take out loans, the ability to buy and upgrade vehicles, recruit drivers, and more. My first hour or five in the game involved taking jobs offered by other companies and what’s more, I was able to pick which job I wanted from a list. A job listing describes the route, the amount of money it pays, the time the delivery needs to be there by, and even the price it would pay per mile. If you’re in the mood to keep things simple, you can usually just pick between the ones that pay the most and have at it. Otherwise, you’ll have to weigh the distance when looking at the price and determine what would be best for you.
Once you accept a job, you’ll begin in a loading dock / area of sorts with your cargo attached. From there, you’ll make your way onto the road and to your destination via a handy GPS that will guide you along the way. If you miss a turn, no problem…it will recalculate after a time and show you an alternative route. In addition to the GPS, you can access your email, view the job details, see the current damage to your truck and cargo, and more. Hitting F1 pauses the game and enable the mouse so that you can navigate these screens with ease, though they each have their own function key in case you don’t want to interrupt your drive. In addition to the standard view, you’ll have access to many more via the number keys to get you out of tight spots. On my first game, I somehow wedged my truck and cargo in between two buildings and couldn’t get out. Changing to a more user-friendly view helped me get on my way, though my pride was still bruised.
Driving from one point to another requires your full attention, as damaging your truck and cargo will reduce the amount of money you receive as payment once the delivery is made. You’ll also receive penalties for running red lights, driving in the wrong lane, hitting another vehicle, and so on. The truck itself comes equipped with many of your standard vehicular features. To assist you in the rain for example, you’ll have access to windshield wipers. For those pesky intersections, you’ll have turn signals. You’ll also be able to blow your horn at the jerk who cut you off and insists on doing twenty under the speed limit. Roadside assistance is available should your truck flip over for
going too fast on a turn…swerving to avoid a herd of baby rabbits that wandered onto the road. Yeah, let’s go with that. Driving time, at least in the beginning, took me anywhere from five to fifteen minutes a trip. Though, you’ll be able to unlock longer routes in your skill tree, so I imagine that some of the later jobs will require a longer commitment.
When you’re not in the mood to drive, you’ll be able to run your business, assuming you have things up and running. It may take you a while to buy your first truck without taking out a loan. I’m fine with that, mainly because it took me a few jobs to get the hang of driving a truck to begin with. I still haven’t mastered the art of backing up…it’s definately a bit different than driving a Honda Civic. As I was driving these jobs, I unlocked the ability to visit show rooms and other services. The map in the menu allows you to see what streets and locations you’ve discovered and how much more progress you need to make to explore the whole map. I suspect that completionists and people who love to explore will be making use of this feature often.
I didn’t get to cover all of the game’s features, but those are the hi-lites. Overall, I really enjoyed my time with “Euro Truck Simulator 2.” It has a wide range of options available that should help the game appeal to just about anyone. The skill tree, the map, the experience mechanic, and the rate of progression make the game highly replayable. This game has a lot to offer, even to those like me who generally don’t play vehicle simulators. Whether you are a casual dad looking to unwind with a simulated road trip or a serious truck connoisseur, “Euro Truck Simulator 2” has something for everyone. Its price tag of $39.99 (as of 12-7-12) might cause some to pause, but the amount of content is such that you’ll get plenty out of it, and then some. There’s a free trial available via the link below, should you wish to try before you buy.
Final Verdict: 9/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Euro Truck Simulator 2” by visiting the official site here:
This game successfully went through the Greenlight process on Steam, so be on the lookout for it there as well!
You can view play sessions for this game here: