American Truck Simulator – First Impressions

Hurrah American Truck Simulator has finally been released. The favourite game of many a dad everywhere sees a shift in focus from Europe over to the USA. SCS Software’s new game is a celebration of Americana and initially features California and Nevada, with other states to follow later.

So what’s it like?

American Truck Simulator is a lot like European Truck Simulator. In some ways it feels more like an add-on rather than a full fledged sequel thanks to the reuse of the gameplay model and interface. However there’s plenty new to enjoy – speed cameras make way for cops, turning right on red takes some getting used to and there are new mandatory weighing stops. The big draw is of course the USA location and for that the game is definitely worth the modest £14.99/US$19.99.

While initial impressions make one think not a whole lot has changed that idea is soon dispelled by trying a few deliveries. There’s more traffic now. The trucks and trailers you drive are much bigger. And the parking challenges have got a heck of a lot more difficult. The player may be driving on wider roads, but with this much bigger trucks 90-degree turns are a challenge.

For many of us SCS Software’s Truck Simulator franchise is more about feel than technical wizardry. The game is very attractive but can be rough around the edges, quite literally as anti-aliasing options are limited. However it’s very easy to get the game running at 60 fps thanks to good optimization.

Once again SCS has neatly sidestepped the issue of gaining lots of music licenses by allowing the game to use streaming radio. There’s something genuinely wonderful about hooing along a Nevada interstate with a country station doing its thing. I was driving towards a sunset yesterday evening when the radio station began playing the classic Convoy. A wonderful moment.

American Truck Simulator is not exactly action packed. But then it’s not meant to be. This is a relaxing game, and one for those who love to explore and take their time. In this American Truck Simulator and Elite Dangerous are kindred spirits, in fact combat aside, they are very similar games – albeit with a difference in the vehicles involved. They certainly scratch the same gaming itch.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my first few hours with American Truck simulator and am looking forward to further states being released and modders getting their hands on the game. It seems SCS Software has done it again – created a wonderful entertaining time-soak form the unlikeliest of source material. Highly recommended.

You can read more about the game at the SCS Software website. The game is out now on Steam or via this Amazon link – American Truck Simulator (PC DVD)