Does SCS Software manage to recreate the trucking magic from Euro Truck Simulator 2 in American Truck Simulator?
You might know Czech video game developer SCS Software from their raging success Euro Truck Simulator 2. I reviewed the game back in October last year, and gave it a solid 4 out of 5 score. The game is also enjoying a solid 96% positive score on Steam, making it one of the platform’s highest rating games. Since SCS Software was funded in 1997, it has developed no less than 25 games, with American Truck Simulator being the latest addition to their catalogue.
American Truck Simulator takes everything you know from Euro Truck Simulator 2, and moves it across the pond. As the name of the game implies, you’re trucking the once great United States of America. Making a truck simulator set in the land that has given us fine trucking movies like Convoy and Smokey and the Bandit seems only natural, but does American Truck Simulator manage to offer the same experience that ETS2 does?
Trucking in the US of A ain’t so different than in Europe. It’s very, very similar, in fact. SCS has used the same engine, and the same game mechanics for American Truck Simulator as they use for Euro Truck Simulator. The only differences are the trucks, and the scenery. The yanks really love their long-nosed trucks, while Europeans prefer the flat-nosed ones. It’s very, very rare to see long-nosed trucks anywhere in Europe. Length restrictions are probably to blame, but it’s also a lot easier to navigate a flat-nosed truck around. At least that’s my experience after driving both variations for a bit.
American trucks also sound a lot better than their European counterparts. There is less sound proofing in the engine room, and as a result, the American long-nosed trucks rumble quit a lot. It’s an absolutely amazing sound that SCS has managed to recreate perfectly in American Truck Simulator.
A Feast For The Eye
As with Euro Truck Simulator 2, the scenery in American Truck Simulator looks great. Hauling cargo on California’s famous Highway 1, and through Nevada is a visual pleasure. I was there during a 2012 road trip, and while I can’t say that it looks identical, at least it’s similar.
The number of locations you can visit in American Truck Simulator is rather limited, at lest when compared to Euro Truck Simulator 2. That’s not a huge surprise, though, considering the latter has been around three years longer. But as with Euro Truck Simulator 2, SCS is hard at work on paid map expansions for American Truck Simulator. The second one is being developed, and it will expand the game to beautiful Oregon. They’ve even posted some development videos.
As a side note, it’s worth mentioning that SCS hasn’t forgotten about Euro Truck Simulator 2. They are also working on a new paid map expansion for that game, Beyond the Baltic Sea, and a free rework of the German map that will bring it up to the quality standard of the recent DLC.
You just got to love a developer that doesn’t let its popular games rot, but instead makes sure they thrive.
Another way SCS makes sure their games stay alive is to keep the community busy. Their blog is updated frequently, and through the World of Trucks service, SCS hosts community events related to current real world events. Right now, Operation Big Sur is in progress, where players are asked to haul cargo to and from the site of the 2017 Big Sur landslide. After completing 500,000 deliveries, participating drivers will receive some exclusive content for the game. Half a million deliveries might sound like an impossible number to reach. But less than 10 days after the event started, the community has already passed the 350,000 mark. Such events are great for boosting the popularity of the American Truck Simulator, and building the community. Operation Big Sur is also conveniently placed at the same time as the Steam summer sale.
An important feature of American Truck Simulator is the possibility to stream online radio stations when trucking. One of those stations is Truckers.FM, a virtual radio station focused around SCS’s trucking simulator games. The radio station is run by volunteers, but I’ve got a hunch it’s being backed financially by SCS. A clever move, if that’s actually the case, since the station also helps build a solid community.
Since I gave Euro Truck Simulator 2 a score of 4 out of 5 possible, I really don’t have any choice but to give American Truck Simulator the same score. It’s basically the same game. The graphics engine is the same, and the AI is the same. American Truck Simulator uses exactly the same game mechanics as its bigger brother. The only tiny difference I’ve found is what feels like a higher road event frequency.
Because of this, American Truck Simulator feels more like a DLC for Euro Truck Simulator 2 than a stand-alone game. Commercially, creating a separate, but terribly similar game is a commercially brilliant idea for SCS Software. It means they can release pretty much identical DLC for both games. As an example, both American Truck Simulator and Euro Truck Simulator 2 features Heavy Cargo Pack and Wheel Tuning Pack DLCs. I’m not saying that I feel cheated. But, as a gamer, I feel that releasing American Trucking Simulator as DLC for Euro Truck Simulator 2 instead of a stand-alone game would have made more sense.
This review is based 6 hours of gameplay with the 1.31.2s version of American Truck Simulator with the following DLC installed: Arizona, New Mexico, Heavy Caro Pack, Wheel Tuning Pack, and Steering Creations Pack.