Fancy being King of the Road as you go driving down the highways of Europe? Or perhaps you wish to be a trucking magnate for a fleet of 18 wheelers roaming from Aberdeen, Scotland all the way across to Bratislava, Slovakia? Well, you can do this with SCS Software’s latest release – Euro Truck Simulator 2 (ETS2). These are the guys who have released a long chain of trucking simulations including the more recent Scania Truck Driving Simulator and the older 18 Wheels of Steel series that had you driving throughout most of the North American continent.
The second iteration of ETS2 improves on its predecessor on many fronts. The graphics engine has seen vast improvement and is on par with what you find in Scania Truck Driving Simulator. Gone are the lower quality textures, the blocky polygonal landscape, and the older generation of 3D vehicle models. With ETS2, you get high quality textures, sweet looking landscape that include realistic looking trees and buildings, and an entire suite of vehicles that feature high polygon counts (including the trucks of DAV, Ivedo, Majestic, Man, Renault Trucks, Scania, and Valiant).
When you first startup ETS2, you have to create for yourself a profile. Choose from a database of male and female images, decide the preferred look of your trucks, and pick a company logo. After this, you have to select a control method – keyboard, mouse or controller (steering wheels, gamepads, and joysticks are supported) as well as your gearbox type – simple automatic, real automatic, sequential, and H-shifter. To complete your profile, you must select your starting hometown. You can pick from 60 cities that cover the following countries of Europe – United Kingdom (includes England, Scotland, and Wales), France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland.
The tutorial follows next and is entirely optional, although we strongly recommend you attempt it at least once. You first get treated to a lovely flypast of your starting hometown before you are given your first job. In ETS2, you make money by hauling cargo to their specified destination as quickly as possible. Driving is pretty straightforward – engage your gear (if required), steer your wheel, and either accelerate or brake to stop. There are the requisite 8 camera views that you have come to love; we did find it handy to alternate between the interior, chase and top-down camera views for the best game play. You can also toggle on useful side mirrors that provide sharper clarity than conventional mirrors.
The game comes with a Route Advisor that behaves like a GPS with advanced features that tell you your current job description and perform truck diagnostics. Everything is summarized in this little handy window and you will learn to treasure this little gadget. When you reach your destination, you can choose to either take the time to reverse your trailer into a predefined parking slot or to skip this step entirely and see the Job Completed screen. This screen shows you how many Experience Points you have gained and whether you attain the next level.
You can choose to improve one of six skills during level up. The skills are: ADR – let’s you transport dangerous goods (which nets you more money), Long Distance – determines how far you can drive on a particular job, High Value Cargo – unlocks more expensive cargo and rewards you bonuses for delivering them, Fragile Cargo – similar to the previous skill but this one unlocks fragile cargo, Just-in-Time Delivery – lets you attempt important and urgent deliveries and rewards you accordingly, and finally Ecodriving – this skill minimizes your fuel consumption.
At start of the game, you have no truck and must pick your jobs from the Quick Job listings. These are essentially jobs with a fixed cargo and preselected truck all hooked up and ready for you to drive. You can sort these jobs by several categories, including price, route length, and price-over-distance, with the latter filter making it easy to cherry-pick the best money-making gigs.
In ETS2, you start the game with a humble garage in your hometown; it is essentially a tiny structure capable of housing only one truck. When you eventually make enough money to buy your very own truck, you will be able to access the Freight Market listings. This is where you select the jobs you wish to do; you then drive over to the origin, hook up the trailer and start trucking. Which brings us full circle to when we started off the review – if you aspire to be a trucking magnate, you can later spend your hard earned cash on upgrading your garage, purchase new trucks (in addition to your very own) and then recruit drivers to drive them.
ETS2 comes with a very detailed zoomable World Map. Jobs that shuttle you to and from countries that employ left-hand and right-hand drive are quite plentiful as are the opportunities to board trains and ferries to cross the English Channel. If you feel you might get caught in a situation with the out-of-gas indicator wailing, quickly bring up the world map and look for the nearest petrol station. Fatigue can optionally be enabled in the game, so it also pays to know where you can stop to rest for a few hours.
You should try to stay on the right side of the law because you can get fined for speeding, causing a little fender bender, or not turning on your lights, in this game. ETS2 also features a reasonable selection of snazzy musical pieces, but the clincher here is the game allows you to pick from a choice of more than 50 Internet radio streams for your “radio station”, with the option of defining your own hyperlink to your favorite radio stream. The sound effects are again from Silent Noise Audio Productions and are top notch. We however thought that the constant thrum of your engine felt just too muted in the cabin.
If you’re looking for a great trucking simulation, then you will not go wrong with Euro Truck Simulator 2. This game epitomizes the ultra-realism that has been so far lacking in the world of trucking simulators and it makes us wonder how SCS Software is ever going to top this. You will enjoy purchasing trucks and upgrading them with new parts and paying for a custom paint job, but most of all you will enjoy seeing the customized cities and driving from Bratislava all the way to Aberdeen. Sure, it may take five hours to do so, but this is the best treat you can ever get with a trucking simulator of this stature. You will love driving long distances, admiring the scenery and braving the rainy weather; nothing comes closer than Euro Truck Simulator 2.