Hard Truck: Apocalypse Hands-On - Driving, Battling, and Hauling Goods in a Wasteland

Get ready to be a truck driver battling for money and revenge in this upcoming role-playing game.

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Despite its admittedly strange name, Hard Truck: Apocalypse isn't a trucking simulation in a post-nuclear war world. Instead, this upcoming title from CDV, Buka Entertainment, and Targem Studio is very much a role-playing game--only instead of running around a fantasy world with a sword and axe, you'll drive around an apocalyptic wasteland armed with machine guns, cannons, and more. We got our hands on a preview version of the game and took it out for a spin.

It's good to know that if the world ends, there will still be truckers.
It's good to know that if the world ends, there will still be truckers.

You can't help but get the feeling that Hard Truck is like a single-player version of Auto Assault, the recently launched online role-playing game. Like that game, Hard Truck is also set in a postapocalyptic setting. In fact, the similarities are kind of eerie. In both games, a mysterious contamination kills off most of the population, and the only way to travel is in modified combat vehicles. In Hard Truck, the survivors inhabiting this wasteland must now wear special white face masks that filter out the pollutants, so the effect is that everyone looks like an extra from Eyes Wide Shut. Your job is to drive your truck around from village to village, trying to make money so that you can buy more powerful weapons and vehicles in your quest to avenge your family's death.

The world is divided into various sectors, each of which contains a number of towns and villages connected by a network of roads, though there are plenty of off-road, hidden locales to explore, not to mention gas stations that also serve as repair depots. There are a variety of services available in each town, including a garage where you can upgrade your truck with new cabs or new trailers, or just replace it outright with a better model. A merchant will let you buy and sell various commodities (naturally, demand for items varies from town to town, so you'll want to find the best available price before you buy or sell). You can also buy upgrades, or sell various weapons and parts that you scavenge off of enemies. A bar will let you chat with the local townies for quests or information, and so on. It's what you'd expect in a role-playing game.

You'll spend most of your time in the game driving around the world, exploring and battling. Towns are only a minute or two apart, so you don't spend long stretches just driving. Instead, like in a role-playing game, you'll find encounters constantly, whether it's coming across strangers or a convoy of trucks to bandits and would-be thieves. No one tromps about on foot, so all the encounters are vehicle-based (at least, what we've seen thus far). Hard Truck is played from the third-person perspective, much like an action game, so you'll use the keyboard to control the car movements while the mouse controls where your weapon turret is facing. Combat is all about driving like a madman, putting the cursor on an enemy target (doing so highlights the target in an effect very similar to that seen in Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter) and then holding down the trigger until the target is destroyed. You'll start off with a machine gun, but eventually you'll be able to replace that with more powerful guns. As always, there's a tradeoff with the weapon you choose. More powerful weapons might have a slower rate of fire or a long reload time, while lighter weapons have the benefit of being able to put a lot of lead on the target quickly.

Upgrade your truck, or replace it entirely with a more powerful model when you have enough cash.
Upgrade your truck, or replace it entirely with a more powerful model when you have enough cash.

For a wasteland, things certainly look pretty. The game has a fairly advanced physics engine, so it's possible to knock down plenty of objects in the world, such as fences. This can create some crazy moments in combat if you're driving madly, plowing over everything while getting shot at. It also can create some problems. It's possible to run over something so that it elevates your chassis into the air, leaving you stranded in place. Despite the danger, the physics provide some cool effects. You also get a feeling that the game's style is somewhat inspired by the classic Fallout role-playing games, themselves set in a postapocalyptic world. Hopefully, the audio that we heard is only a placeholder, as it's the weakest part of the game's overall presentation. Still, Hard Truck shows definite promise, as it looks to be a unique take on the role-playing genre. The game is due to ship later this month.

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