I've played the game for 2-3 hours now and have quite a few thoughts about it.
- Graphics can be absolutely gorgeous
- Many types of cargo to deliver
- "Race" deliveries are really fun, even if the AI isn't incredibly hard to defeat
- Awesome truck customization at Repair Shops found at truck stops (interior, exterior, you name it, you can modify or add to it)
- Storyline makes you want to keep playing to see what will happen next and what new things you'll discover
- World feels really large, and you can see some cities in the distance - hundreds of individual structures - making for some incredible views
- Lots of different roadways, bridges, road structures, etc. to travel on and a large variety of scenery to see
- Truck handling can be very stiff and awkward
- Streets can sometimes be difficult to navigate and feature road blocks with few-to-no warnings until you are upon them
- Gamepad mapping can be tricky for several reasons (I use mouse/keyboard and can drive very efficiently)
- Rain effect, though visually impressive, isn't "heavy" enough to truly hinder vision (at least what I've seen of it)
- External camera view's mouse movement is very awkward and will, more often than not, wreck you as you're trying to readjust it
- Sounds are very weak, unlike the strong visuals
Overall, I've been impressed by it and can safely call it my favorite trucking game, right next to 18 Wheels of Steel American Long Haul. One thing you'll immediately notice makes a big difference in the gameplay is that there are literally no speed limits. You can drive as fast as you want - I've gone past 90 MPH - with no penalties so long as you stay in the road and don't collide with other vehicles. There are no stop lights, either, so you don't have to worry about constantly stopping, then starting. The police are also not as strict as the poster above me indicates, for I've made crazy turns that I shouldn't have, gone slightly off-road to turn around, and whizzed past police cars doing incredible rates of speed without so much as a buzz. If you hit other vehicles and cause damage, yes, you will have the police after you all the time. If not, they will ignore you. Really, is that so bad?
Another thing that was nearly a requirement
for me to enjoy the first-person camera view was to press the "/" key on the NUMPAD so that it zooms completely out, because the default view is zoomed in far enough so that it feels as if the steering wheel is stuck up your nose. Once you're zoomed out and can see the steering wheel, your gauges, and entire windshield all at once, you'll be a far happier camper. Also, before you start your engine and pull out, use your mouse to look left and use the DEL/PG DOWN keys (and surrounding keys if needed) to adjust your mirrors. You'll be thankful later when you optimize your mirror view so that you can easily look left and right before changing lanes. The external camera view is excellent for changing lanes, too, although the mouse movement in that view is downright horrendous.
I tried playing with the Xbox 360 controller to begin with, but after spending a good while tinkering with the controls and realizing that I had no means of mapping them as I wanted, I decided instead to hop over to a standard Mouse/Keyboard setup. Since then, I've driven better than ever before after lots of practice. I use the WASD keys for gas, brakes, and steering, the mouse for looking around (at mirrors and surroundings in external view), the Q/E keys for left/right turn signal, and my CTRL key for the engine brake. If you're using the keyboard to drive and need to stop quickly or ease your way around tight curves, brake with S and, at the same time, either tap or hold CTRL to apply the engine brake all at once. This slows you down far more quickly than if you apply only the brakes, and if you rely only on the brakes themselves, you're going to be rear-ending and T-boning vehicles nearly every time you're in a must-stop situation.
Finally, I'll provide some closing points and links to screenshots of some of the beautiful scenery I've already encountered:
- No speed limits, no stop lights, radio stations and crazy rock music make this game a more light hearted, arcadish trucking game than the more strict, by-the-numbers 18 Wheels of Steel games.
- Racing against other drivers and running from the police, considering there is no speed limit, is downright wicked
- If you have the computer to crank up the graphics, nearly everything, especially vehicle models and interiors, is top notch and looks as if it came from a AAA company
- The RPG elements (truck stops with cutscenes, a storyline, and your typical gas, repairs, rest truck simulator attributes) give the game longevity and excellent replay value
- Although things such as delivering cargo and even getting gas are more streamlined to the point of requiring no careful driving, the game is still fun because of the other great things it has going for it
- 18 Wheels of Steel Haulin' or American Long Haul is an excellent, more realistic alternative to this game. But this game is still incredibly fun in its own right!
SCREENSHOTS (All max settings, 1440x900, 4xAA, 8xAF)