SCS Software specialised in making truck simulations from its humble beginnings back in 1997 with Hard Truck. From then on in, it concentrated on the American theater with its successful 18 Wheels of Steel series. This game, Euro Truck Simulator is the first of its kind hauling cargo throughout Europe and whilst it has the same feel as its cousin 18 Wheels of Steel, the simulation experience is not quite there as it does feel a little arcade. And if it wasn't for the career objectives, I probably enter this game into an early retirement.
So the objective of the game is to drive your truck around Europe to earn cash. You start off with €100,000 and your first purchase must be a truck (stating the obvious here). Also you get to choose the starting country and if that country has less than three cities, then you'll get to choose another country for free. I choose Portugal as my starting country and unlock Spain for free (because Portugal only has one city being Lisbon). Also I felt it was a good starting point as considering it was the country furthest west of the European continent (Poland being the furthest east).
What to do with your cash is you can upgrade your truck (e.g. better handling / petrol consumption etc), buy a better truck (as there are four companies to choose from and three grades of trucks each), unlock other European countries, buy licenses (to haul dangerous goods like acid) and buying petrol. To get cash is to haul goods and the longer the distance, the higher the payment and because it also has a dynamic economy system (i.e. supply versus demand) hauling say tomatoes all day long will force the payment to go lower and vice versa. However I wouldn't be too concerned with that as once you unlock other European countries, it's pretty rare prices will tumble radically unless you go back and forth the same two cities over and over again.
Being tagged as a simulation, unfortunately I don't see much of that. Granted that the trucks steering is a little challenging and the better the trucks, the better the control however other than that, there's really no simulation. Yet you do have to worry about petrol (and especially the prices – hint: gas stations near the border are a hell a lot costly than those remote ones, as odd it may sound) and if you allow it, you need to worry about driver's fatigue (I highly recommend to turn this option on to get that full simulation feel).
Obeying traffic laws is a must unless you enjoy forking out cash to the policeman's ball. So you need to be concerned about crashing into other cars / trucks, watch your speed (hint: cruise control ftw) and driving on the correct side of the road (that was a little difficult for me as I drive on the left hand side). Also there are traffic lights to obey and be warily of cars suddenly stop for no apparent reason. Also reverse parking a trailer I feel is the hardest however you can change the camera angle to assist you however being a truck sim, why do you want to do that? Go practice using the revision mirrors instead.
What I was hoping more of was tailoring your truck (as there are little options to do so), wear and tear for tyres and engines (as I can literally shift gears from eight down to one without blowing the engine due to over revving) and weather effects on your truck. Granted that you get to witness the dark clouds gather before the rain hitting your windscreen thus needing to use your wipers to have better visibility however the roads don't get any slipperier (well I didn't notice it anyways). And a more dynamic economy as it would be cool if other trucks can also dictate the prices more radically (like in the ‘X’ series – yes I know it's a space sim however the economy is a lot more dramatic). Lastly the game also needs radio chatter to spice up the ‘simulation’ feel (like in Ship Simulator Extreme).
Visually it's not a bad looking game. The trucks are reasonably detailed however the interiors are great to see, especially in those class A trucks. The landscapes are so and so however static as. This goes to the backdrops like mountains and the famous landmarks in each city. I was hoping for more details here however the water drops on your windscreen is a nice effect (yeah I'm struggling here). Sound wise is quite similar however what's top notch is the Doppler Effect from all the vehicles as this definitely adds immersion. And each truck has its own unique sound and as expected, the class A’s all have that deep rumbling hum.
The gameplay length is pretty much unlimited as there is no official ‘end’. You can literally go on forever however even the most dedicated truckie sim fan will eventually want to give up. However the game cleverly designed career progression chart, where you need to complete certain tasks to raise the ranks from being a novice to the master trucker. Five ranks in all and designed in a way to get the maximum usage for this game however it does take some considerable time to become the master. And because there are many feats (achievements) to earn, it provides you more reasons to play it so if it wasn't for those I'd probably give it an early retirement.
*** Euro Truck Simulator Version 1.3 ***
Also known as Euro Truck Simulator Gold, there has been some decent changes made to this version and the most noticeable one is they added a new country being England (not sure why it was left out in the first place…maybe it has to do with the Euro dollar perhaps?). So three more cities have been included being London, Manchester and Newcastle. Out of the three, Manchester has all the cool cargo like petrol and diesel. To get to England, you need to hop on the ferry from Calais to Dover (and vice versa) but sadly, you don't get to witness the boat trip (just a blank screen for a moment or two yet the 2 hrs trip is regarded as a full sleeping session comparing to 8 hrs for mainland Europe). And being in England, you need to drive on the left hand side of the road (thank goodness for that).
Other features are smaller roads added, especially around Germany and Poland yet you don't need to use them as frankly they are not shortcuts but the scenery is decent I guess; an OGG format music player so you can play your favourite truckie tunes when hooning down the motorway and according to the patch, sound effects (I didn’t notice much of that). Yet sadly you definitely will notice England wasn't part of the ‘grand scheme of things’ as the career progression chart hasn't been altered to use England as part of any objectives but heck, the patch is free I guess.