Euro Truck Simulator 2 Review
A solid attempt to simulate the business of freight delivery
These days, simulation video games have taken on a life of their own. Often shunned from the spotlight of the common gamer, these niche offerings instead try to dominate a particular specialization. Usually, the games in this genre fall into one of two categories: hardcore and casual. Hardcore simulations are your Flight and Train sims, that focus mostly on twisting lots of knobs and requiring a deep level of understanding from the player. These games are also often feature higher production values. On the other hand are the casual titles, such as Farm or Street Cleaning simulators, which are characterized by being very accessible but lacking depth or quality presentation. Euro Truck Simulator 2 doesn’t fall into either of these categories, which means it’s better than the casual throw-away experiences but doesn’t quite measure up to the elite of the genre. For better or worse, that makes it a rather appealing offering for those mildly curious.
It should be noted that I have little experience with these types of “real world” games with one big, but extremely relevant exception. Many years ago, I came across a similar game titled Hard Truck and spent many nights delivering freight across the fictional roads and between depots. So when picking up Euro Truck Simulator 2, I had some ideas as to how things are going to play out. For the most part, I was correct and spending time with the game produced rather pleasing results.
So if the game’s title somehow didn’t clue you in, you’ll be driving a truck across Europe, delivering goods. The game features a huge amount of road, stretching between cities inside Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and more. Distance and time in the game is compressed, so you’re not going to be driving for a real hour just to get from one destination to the next – instead it takes about ten minutes for two in-game hours to pass, making it possible to drive across the continent within an hour or two. This is the first step to making the game both appealingly realistic but also allowing the non-hardcore truck enthusiasts to take a cruise without falling asleep at the wheel.
The illusion of open road is also somewhat lost when you realize that while the developers may have attempted realism, the end result is restrictive. Most of the cities you visit are small models of their real world counterparts, having no more than a few roads and locations to visit. Similarly, your trips will literally be linear between non-centralized cities, so you’ll be going through the scenery and turns over and over. There is a concern for repetition, so the game encourages the player to take contract jobs (where you’re loaned a truck and teleport to your start location) which allow travel deeper into Europe.
Exploring the game world happens as you simply visit cities, which often contain locations of interest. Once you’ve visited a city, you can accept transport jobs from that location and utilize any services found there. These services range from truck showrooms to recruitment agencies. Now would probably be a good time to talk about the non-driving aspects of the game – company management. Indeed, you’re not just a driver for hire, you’re an ambitious character who wants to get his own trucking business. You start off doing contract jobs mentioned above, which have no requirements and pay decently. You also have a starter garage in the city where you chose to begin the game, but with only enough space for you.
By doing a lot of jobs, you can eventually save up enough money to buy your own truck, expand your garage, buy more trucks and hire drivers for them. This can be achieved with a long time, but you can also borrow money from the bank to get your company started. Once you are rolling in your own truck (which you can customize and upgrade), the game becomes even more complex. You can still take contract jobs, but freight jobs pay more and so are much more desirable. However, because you have your own truck, you can’t simply teleport to the starting location like with a contract – one must actually drive over there, get the haul, and get it delivered. Time in the game doesn’t stop, everything is on a timer so you could find yourself in a city with no jobs and a need to drive to the next town before their freight offers expire. It becomes a rather involving, and realistic, experience.