Version tested: PC
Tow trucks. Proud whales of the highway. Gruff weightlifters of the road. Tanks in the war that is everyday life.
Our culture's obsession with tow trucks knows no bounds. One need only observe the popularity of films which speculate on the offspring of man and tow truck, such as Iron Man and Iron Man 2, and I'm sure the most loved of all the Autobots, Longarm, needs no introduction.
For centuries scholars have tried and failed to understand what makes tow trucks so beguiling to us. Perhaps it's the sheer power of their crane and tow cable, so much stronger than any one of us. Or maybe - just maybe - it is their ability, despite being a car (kind of), to pick up another car.
So of course a Tow Truck Simulator is... no. I'm sorry. I can't do this. I don't know why anybody would want to buy a tow truck simulator. All I know is that statistically, somebody does want to buy this game.
Over the last year the developers of Tow Truck Simulator, Astragon, have also put out Farming Simulator, Digger Simulator, Crane Simulator and Forklift Truck Simulator, so either somebody's buying these games or Astragon is on a crusade to force games journalists to at least pretend to do some real work. If the next games in this series are Civil Servant Simulator and Part Time Retail Assistant Simulator, I'm onto them.
But in all likelihood it's the former, and someone out there does want to buy Tow Truck Simulator. If I had to guess I'd imagine he's called Eamonn, lives in Chelmsford, works in a Post Office and despite fancying himself as a 'Beast' or a 'Hotshot', he is known among his friends as 'Fat Eamonn.'
Eamonn, if you're reading, this one's for you.
Here's how bad Tow Truck Simulator is: there is a spelling mistake on the main menu that invites you to start a "New Carreer".
When you click on this button the game displays a loading screen for almost an entire minute, forcing you to reflect for the first time on the single piece of muzak that loops ceaselessly during the entire game. After half an hour of Tow Truck Simulator this track will have become so powerfully repellent that in your mind's eye you will imagine the guitar playing you while Satan plays bass.
When Tow Truck Simulator finally starts, suddenly it's got no time for you. A box pops up telling you to recover either an illegally parked or broken down vehicle, and it tells you what you'll be paid, but that's it. There is no tutorial, and just in case you were thinking of partying like it's 1998, there's no paper manual either.
If you're smart or desperate enough to look in the game's directory there is a .pdf manual, but that only provides a list of key bindings. Optimist that I am, I wrote down these controls to make a crappy reference sheet and figured that learning how to operate a tow truck would be fun, like a Professor Layton puzzle.
The town that's yours to roam in Tow Truck Simulator is nothing to write home about, unless you actually lived there, in which case you'd probably write home saying something like "Mum! Send help! Jesus Christ! I'm trapped in an ugly, weird-looking town enclosed by high walls on every side where nobody's allowed to go outside and all the glass is opaque and everyone parks illegally all the time!"
Carefully obeying my hazy memory of the Highway Code, I arrived at my first illegally parked car to find it sticking out from the pavement at a 90 degree angle on an empty, narrow street. This was such an astonishingly prattish act that I actually took pause.
Briefly, I got excited. I was a force of street justice! Is this the feeling you're after, Eamonn? Because it didn't last.
Trying to park my tow truck alongside the jerk car was an incredible pain, largely because of having to change gears manually and the camera automatically swivelling 180 degrees when you start moving backwards. So, if you change the camera yourself, the moment you start moving backwards the camera turns to face forwards.