Well, It's better than the last one...
Lets go over the basics. Haulin is the latest game in a series of 18 wheels of steels titles. In the 18 wheels series you start off by driving a truck and making money. Your eventual goal is to have enough mola to buy a bunch of trucks and hire drivers to make tons of money and rule the world... Personally, I could care less about the management features. I bought this game to drive the big trucks, and I got what I wanted.
Coming from "pedal to the medal" which was the last major release, Haulin does some things alot better, and some things a bit worse. Let's start with THE GOOD. The graphics in Haulin have definitely been improved overall. Cars no longer look like eggs, Trucks look even more detailed and the the reflections are really nicely done. I even saw a Chevy Impala! The skies look much more realistic, the roadways are sharper, Cities now look like cities rather than a flat group of boxes. You now have tunnels and hills in cities, with roads that go up and down broad boulevards. I was happy to see Chicago look somewhat like Chicago's real skyline. The freeway interchanges are pretty cool looking too. The physics have been greatly improved. The truck "feels" like it is heavy, the motor no longer revs from 0 to 5000 rpm in 1 second when in first gear, lightly tapping the gas (this was a real irritation in pedal to the medal), and if you drive too fast you will lose control (trust me on this one!). The USA is no longer slightly larger than a postage stamp. It will now take you a good 3 to 5 hour REAL TIME to cross the nation. The scenery is also a lot more regional (less generic) and gives you that "out west" or "east coast" or "up in Canada" feel. This is probably one of the neatest improvements in the game. There is now ALOT more traffic. Cities and the freeways around them are very busy an you must really watch yourself in tight corners or you will have fender benders. Another nice feature as you cross the huge USA is that you will see many Big Rigs, as you do in real life. The traffic AI is far superior to the older versions of 18 wheels. The cars no longer stop at the top of on ramps and they no longer get stuck when you are near an intersection. In "pedal to the medal" left or right turn traffic would always stop and beep at you, even if you were on the stinking sidewalk! Thanks SCS for caring :)
Now for THE BAD - These are the things detract slightly from the gaming experience. It rains 60% of the time! When it rains, it rains for hours and hours and hours... You can no longer turn the sleep off like you could in "Pedal to the medal". This wouldn't be a big deal except for the fact that you get a warning message saying you are sleepy, and then about 2 seconds later you black out. Sometimes you don't even get a message, you just pass out. You screen goes black for 5-20 seconds, in which time you could go flying off the road. In real life I am a PC tech who often drives from Ohio to MI, PA, MD, IN and other states, sometimes 14 or 15 hours away. Even at my worst I never just black out. This feature should be "turn offable" It wouldn't be bad if you had maybe a 3 minute (real time) warning so you had time to get to a stop to rest. As it is, you pass out and hope you don't crash and then just pull off to the side (which is illegal) and sleep for hours. Sometimes (especially at intersections with no traffic signals) the AI will blindly crash into your precious cargo causing damage. Even worse, they will continue to pile up behind you, hitting you over and over again. Since you can't run red lights without severe consequences, you get trapped because you can't go forward to get away from the idiots behind you. This gets very annoying. Also, there is no warning to let you know if your trailer is detached in one of these pile ups, so you may drive off and leave it there without knowing it. This leads to another beef that I have. If you had the rear view mirrors turned on you would see that the trailer was gone, but the mirrors hammer the framerates so badly that you will find yourself keeping them off most of the time.
When you get pulled over by a cop, be prepared to bend over. The tickets range from $5000 to $20000 dollars. Ouch. Now for THE UGLY... The parts of the game that you just don't want to see. The cops have no mercy for red light runners. Unless you are more than 50% through an intersection when a light turns red, the next cop that sees you will be fining you 5 or 6K. Oh yeah, and forget turning right on red.
You now have a violation bar like Grand Theft Auto's wanted rating. If you drive on the wrong side of the road, fail to use your headlights, speed, park illegaly, or crash a light your wanted rating goes up. At about 25% the cops will arrest you. The higher the rating the more the ticket. It takes a LONG time for your bar to die down. This sucks since crashing a red light = a 50% rating. Even if a cop isn't present you rating climbs. Sometimes turning left into a gas station (even on a 2 lane back road) will raise your level high enough to get a ticket. How stupid!
After about 1/2 hour of play your parking brake will start coming on whenever you stop the truck. Then when you press the gas you will go through first gear, but when you switch to second you RPMs drop back down to nil and you stop. Then you have to turn the brake off again and on again several times before it will start working right. ARRRRGGHHHH!!!!! Then it happens all over again the next time you stop. The only remedy is to save, shut down and restart the game. This is the biggest joy killer for me. My last beef is this. Since I bought the download version from Trymedia I cannot apply the latest patch, which fixes some of these issues. It tells me I have a corrupt version. After several emails I have gotten no reply. HMMMM. Thanks alot.
In conclusion, you might think that I would condem this game with all the stinking problems it has, but you know what? I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT!!!! It is still ten times better than "pedal to the medal" so go out and buy this game. Its only 19 dollars for crying out loud.