Don't Laugh, This Driving Game Is Uniquely Satisfying
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 3:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 3:36 p.m.
Through the magic of video game escapism I’ve battled alien armies, survived zombie onslaughts, fought in historic conflicts and saved the world more times than I can count.
As for my latest grand adventure? Well, I’ve been driving a trailer truck across Europe.
Don’t laugh. “Euro Truck Simulator 2” (PC) might not sound very entertaining but it’s a uniquely satisfying driving game that also lets you become a transport tycoon.
“ETS2” was released in 2012 and it has received an unusual amount of praise for a game hailing from the eccentric simulator genre. I chuckled at the idea of the game and was skeptical of its growing mainstream appeal, but after many hours behind the wheel I’m not laughing anymore. I’m a believer.
You start “ETS2” as a freelance driver hauling goods for low pay across a large swath of Europe. The actual driving can be fairly challenging at first, requiring you to deal with traffic and follow your GPS while pulling heavy trailers on city streets and highways. Oh, and don’t forget those delivery deadlines.
Once you save enough cash or take a bank loan, you can buy your own truck and receive more lucrative job offers. Continued success allows you to upgrade your garage, hire other drivers and expand your business to other cities.
There’s an enjoyable sense of progression in “ETS2.” Similar to a role-playing game, your driver receives experience points and “levels up,” which unlocks new abilities so you can take long distance jobs, transport valuable or hazardous cargo, save on fuel costs, etc. It’s an easy system to grasp that adds depth to all the time you’ll spend on the road.
Speaking of, the scenery in “ETS2” is quite beautiful at times. The compressed map of Europe includes more than 60 cities with hundreds of famous landmarks, and there’s an exciting feeling of discovery as you drive across the continent and see new landscapes and buildings. I once drove from Poland to Germany under a full moon, and it was unlike anything I’ve done in a game before.
Another nice touch is the use of real truck brands (Volvo, Renault, etc.) and interiors. Trucks can be upgraded with new engines and transmissions, and you can unlock new cosmetic features such as paint schemes, lights and wheels.
Perhaps my favorite feature is the in-truck streaming radio, which comes with a huge list of real, European internet radio stations. It’s a novel experience to be driving through virtual Holland while listening to an actual techno station broadcasting from Rotterdam.
“ETS2” retails for $30 to $40 and can be purchased and downloaded online. Grab the free demo on Steam at store.steampowered.com.
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