Sit down; this might come as a bit of shock. You know those big rusty things with the pointy fronts and the funnels and the anchors and the little round windows? Well, according to VSTEP - the creators of this atmospheric maritime sim - not all of them are crewed by terrorists and gangsters, or packed to the gunwales with dirty-bombs, guns or drugs. Apparently some have holds stuffed with completely innocent cargoes (bananas, disposable nappies, tropical hardwood, mercury-laced industrial waste...) and ply the oceans on totally legitimate business.
It's these strange law-abiding toilers of the sea that Ship Simulator 2008 lets you captain and explore. Thirteen different vessels ranging from tubby tugs and zippy launches to hulking oil tankers and car-crammed ro-ro ferries wait patiently in seven different ports for player pilots. If you're familiar with Ship Simulator 2006 you'll appreciate the significance of those numbers and realise the Dutch dev has been damn busy during the past year. Where the first instalment felt skinny and tentative, this one feels confident and plump.