There were a dozen instances while playing Euro Truck Simulator 2 when I paused to ask myself whether the universe was playing a joke on me. On paper, I shouldn’t really like this game. I don’t typically see the appeal in delivering ice cream or lumber in a giant truck, yet I found myself completely captivated by the game’s immersive world. There’s an incomparable sense of real-life progression as you grow your business and become a more skilled driver. As a simulation, ETS 2 earns its place as one of the best titles in the genre and deserves a look whether you’re a truck enthusiast or you’re just looking for a deep and complex gaming experience.
Euro Truck Simulator 2 does a fantastic job of easing you into the gameplay. Your first task consists of driving a few blocks and parking your trailer. The moment you try to nudge your way into the parking space you realize that this game is no laughing matter. I insisted on perfecting my first session and it took me nearly 20 minutes to get it right. Yes, the learning curve is steep but the controls never feel unfair. This is no racing game and the physics accurately translate the weight and size of these massive machines. Using the keyboard and Xbox 360 game-pad feels natural, but a steering wheel is a must if you want a more realistic experience.
"As a simulation, ETS 2 earns its place as one of the best titles in the genre and deserves a look whether you’re a truck enthusiast or you’re just looking for a deep and complex gaming experience."
Most of your time is spend on highways. This might sound boring, but there’s something very meditative about cruising through the beautiful European landscape. The driving feels smooth and precise but it’s easy to feel overconfident and take turns at high speeds. If you don’t downshift your gears on time, your truck can easily swerve out of control causing an accident. You’re panelized for every mishap, such as running red lights or bumping other cars, so it’s important to stay sharp at all times.
ETS2 is not just about driving but also managing and growing your business. You begin your freelancing career by driving rental trucks to various locations around Germany in order to save up enough for your own vehicle. Purchasing your own truck grants you access to bigger paying gigs and more opportunities open up as you acquire new licenses. Your first garage is practically a dump but it doesn’t take long before you can upgrade to a more luxurious and spacious facility. As more slots open up, you can hire recruits who acquire gigs automatically based on their expertise.
"As the manager of your business you’re solely responsible for your finances and keeping track of your bank loans and expenses becomes harder as your company grows."
The game’s progression borrows heavily from traditional RPGs and it works beautifully. Leveling up and completing certain tasks earns you skill points and each improvement reflects heavily on your performance. Skill points are also used to redeem new licenses that let you transport more valuable cargo. Despite the slow pacing, there’s plenty to keep you busy. As the manager of your business you’re solely responsible for your finances and keeping track of your bank loans and expenses becomes harder as your company grows. ETS2 manages to make every task imperative to your progress, so you never feel like you’re slugging through menial chores.
At only 500MB in size, the game’s massive world is quite remarkable. The level of polish might not be comparable to most of today’s AAA titles, but it’s the aesthetics as a whole that are striking. The cities and their surroundings are authentically presented and although everything is scaled down so you’re not spending hours on the highway, the breadth of the map is monumental.
"Although gamers with an affinity for trucks will get the most out of Euro Truck Simulator 2, this is a rare niche title that manages to reach a broader audience."
One of my favorite aspects of driving long shifts is the choice of real-life radio stations. You’re able to stream dozens of European channels that range from hip-hop, rock, metal, dubstep, techno, and even country. There’s a tune for absolutely everyone and it ads a great sense of realism to the driving. My only gripe is with the rest of the sound effects. The menu music is bleak and the truck engines sound shallow and muffled. It’s a shame because the rest of the game is treated with such great care.
Although gamers with an affinity for trucks will get the most out of Euro Truck Simulator 2 (particularly when it comes to the customization options), this is a rare niche title that manages to reach a broader audience. It grows on you quickly and it’s easy to loose days, if not weeks, perfecting your garage and trucks while building the ultimate delivery dream team. Give this game a try if you’re looking for something different, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: PC