I hate trucks.
As a driver, Ive often found myself stuck behind a truck on a motorway, or stuck behind a truck on a country lane, or stuck in a queue of traffic – caused by a truck.
In fact, Im of the belief that trucks should only drive at night, and save the rest of humanity from the endless pain of watching a truck try to overtake another truck at 50 miles per hour at 6pm on a Friday evening.
So, despite my apparent hatred of the haulage industry, I was surprised to find that UK Truck Simulator, latest in a long line of sims from SCS Software, isn’t that bad, despite how boring it sounds.
The game does exactly what it says on the side of the shipping container- it simulates the life of a trucker, starting you off with one rig before allowing you to move up to running a company and maybe even a haulage network of your own, all rendered on a pretty decent recreation of Britain’s roads.
The gameplay is straightforward, and thankfully the gear changes are set on automatic by default, as a truck seems to have 1,000,000 gears, as well as some furry dice. The arrow keys control the rig’s steering, with other keys controlling speed, camera view, cabin controls and the links between cabin and container.
Once you’ve got all the controls sorted out, it’s time to get trucking.
The basic idea is to pick up cargo in one city, drive it to another and drop it off. Along the way you have to navigate around Britain’s motorway system, driving carefully to avoid breaking the law, causing accidents or damaging the cargo itself.
The various highways and byways are all well created, and give the impression that youre really driving from A to B – I tested the M42 (a motorway I’m very familiar with) and found it to be well recreated, even down to the bridges.
The weather effects are also nicely rendered and often switch mid-drive, going from sun to rain in a few minutes- a fact of life us Brits have come to accept.
The roads are also filled with other drivers and trucks, who are only to happy to beep you if you get slightly out of line (or if you go careening into them at high speed.)
If you make any legal or literal mistakes the game deducts cash and kudos from you and your rig, and as you can spend money upgrading the cabin, or even buy a new one, its a good idea to try and drive within the rules of the road- not easy for a gamer raised on a diet of Grand Theft Auto.
But, once you get past the fact that youre playing a truck simulator, the game can be quite good fun.
While it is at times mind-numbingly dull, the game is quite therapeutic and, thankfully, a lot of the longer journeys can be made shorter with a spot of time dilation.
Once you reach your destination, provided you didnt spread it all over the A192, you have to navigate into a major city and drop off your cargo.
This is where the game struggles a little as the map interface isnt clear enough, leaving you driving around trying to find a turn which isnt clearly marked (which is also true in real life in many cities).
Once you finally locate the yard you have to reverse in and drop off the container, a feat made all the more difficult by the dodgy camera and awkward nature of reversing a truck. While you can switch to third-person or overhead view, both struggle to show the angles correctly and can make parking up awkward.
The game also suffers a little with the AI programming of other vehicles. While most follow the rules of the road, quite often I found myself being cut up by the driver of the little Mini-like car in front of me and, as any driver will know, you dont cut up a truck which is barrelling up the outside lane.
Graphically the game is pretty good. You wont need a powerful graphics card to run it, but the trucks themselves, the cabin interior, the roads and the cities are all pretty well rendered, with only a little drop-in on trees. Kudos has to go on the weather effects, with fog, snow and rain realistically restricting your view and rendering a simple drive from Manchester to Grimsby a terrifying experience filled with close calls.
But, if all this careful driving isnt your thing, dont despair – you can crash the trucks, and I cant deny I did this a lot.
There’s just something satisfying about sending a big rig full of panes of glass into a petrol station at high speed, or barrelling into another truck head on.
Sure, while there arent any explosions, it’s still a laugh and quite cathartic after half an hour or so of driving at a very slow speed and minding your mirrors.
While I’m still convinced trucks should only drive late at night – and not at any other time – UK Truck Simulator is sure to please the trucking or sim purist. While the slow nature of the gameplay isnt for everyone, the decent detail provided by the game and the chance to get behind the wheel of a road titan is pretty good. While there are a few flaws in the graphics and control department the game stands pretty well on its own and, though its not one for me, if you’re a sim or trucking fan it is well worth a look.
Nice weather effects
Trucking fans will love it
Not So Good Stuff:
Dodgy controls and camera
Poor driver AI
Fairly dull unless youre into trucks