UK Truck Simulator. Just read that name. I donít think thereís any ambiguity there, but in case there is and the title seems like some code you canít crack, this is very much a simulation of driving a Truck in the UK. If that doesnít sound like itís for you, youíre right. This isnít some surprise hit that youíll find strangely enjoyable, this is a Truck Sim.
Branching off from the wide range of sim games from SCS Software ranging from Bus Driver to 18 Wheel of Steel Extreme Trucker, UK Truck Simulator aims to give you the feel of driving what we in the UK would probably call a lorry around locations on mainland Britain (so sorry Northern Ireland, no Belfast based trucking for you).
Starting off as a driver employed by a company, youíll be sent around some cities and towns in Britain transporting a wide range of materials against the clock, in the hope of earning more money. Once youíve got a hang of it, you can then progress to being a freelancer driver, picking and choosing the jobs you take so you have a bit more flexibility Ė do you take a long job with a large payout, or a few shorter ones? From there, once youíve accumulated enough money you can then start your own trucking company, employing drivers, making sure theyíre vehicles are in good order and raking in the cash. As such, there is a nice sense of progression as you go.
The truck driving itself will take up the bulk of your time, and tries itís best to emulate as much as possible without becoming too much. The keyboard controls which I use feel really twitchy at first, not unexpected given youíre turning a very heavy vehicle with tiny buttons. But once you get a feel for it, it feels fairly intuitive. The trucks feel satisfyingly weighty to control, and you have access to pretty much everything youíd need Ė indicators, windscreen wipers, lights, hitching and unhitching loads and mirrors.
Should you prefer there are plenty of other control options available, such as gamepad and steering wheel support, though how good this support will be Iím not sure, due to my lack of such peripherals. As is usually the case with such niche games as this, a quick Google for the Truck Sim forums (of which there are a surprising number) and youíll find plenty of like minded people willing to help you get the best out of UK Truck Simulator from whatever hardware you own Ė though the lack of official forums means you do have to rely on other fans.
Youíll also have to remember to keep it fuelled up, because these new fangled trucks need fuel to go, apparently. Youíll also have to keep the truck and your current load from being damaged, though the damage is only shown by a health meter and unfortunately not by visual truck damage effects.
As well as the truck itself, it also simulates being a driver. So you have a tiredness meter that drains as you drive, with a quick rest stop restoring it fully but draining precious hours on the accelerated game clock, which runs at 3 real minutes to the virtual hour. As well as staying well rested, youíll have to adhere to the rules of the road, such as not driving US style on the right, and not speeding (which sounds easy at first, but can get trick later on).
So for your first few hours are spent doing jobs as they are assigned, using the companyís truck. But once youíve worked your way up, youíll get to use your accumulated wealth to buy your own truck, as well as invest in upgrades to it. The game really feels like it opens up a lot more, being able to make your own choices about vehicle and the work you take. But at the end of the day, youíre still driving a truck, which highlights one of the main issues with the game.
Truck driving is pretty much all there is too it. Yes, it is called UK Truck Simulator, so what else would you expect? There is eventually the company management option, but itís fairly simplistic, leaving more driving as your main option. But by the time you can manage the company, youíll have more than enough money to have the best truck with the best upgrades, rendering it a bit aimless.
It doesnít help that everything can be described as being vaguely like it should be. The roads you travel around are vaguely like the real ones, linking towns that are vaguely reminiscent of the real places, in a truck that is vaguely like the real ones you see on the road (there are no licensed manufacturer vehicles in the game). You follow a set of rules vaguely similar to the ones youíd follow in real life. Itís all just not quite there.
If you try to go off the beaten path on the roads, youíll be greeted with big floating arrows that ruin the immersion a bit. I wasnít expecting a photo realistic full UK road network, but what is there is only similar Ė itís all very much a game world based on the UK, rather than actually set in it. Try not to look forward to seeing your own town in it, even if it is there, it wonít be as you remember it, unless of course London really is comprised of about 6 streets and covers a square mile at most.
But for all that it still does deliver pretty much as promised, a truck simulator with right hand drive trucks using UK city names. If thatís what youíre looking for, this will do nicely. If youíre looking for an overlooked secret classic, this isnít it.