LGR – American Truck Simulator Review

LGR – American Truck Simulator Review


[music: “Born in the USA”] Well, this is strange. American Truck Simulator is simultaneously
one of my favorite games of 2016, and one of the biggest
disappointments, as well. And I’m kind of okay with that because it’s a lot like being disappointed
in a great tasting meal that’s just too small. So small that you’re left wanting
seconds immediately after finishing but the kitchen has already closed for the night
and you’re being kicked out onto the curb. But I’m not super angry because that
chef was responsible for cooking up Euro Truck Simulator 2 in the past. The way developer SCS Software and the modding
community have supported that game over the years has me feeling pretty confident in
American Truck Simulator’s future. It’s the latest iteration on their
award-winning simulation recipe. Only this time you’re running your own
trucking company in the western United States instead of Europe. To long-time SCS Software fans,
that might sound familiar, since the Hard Truck: 18 Wheels of Steel
series of games from the same developer attempted the very same thing. Of course, technology has progressed
quite a bit since the early 2000s, especially in regards to visual fidelity, leading to a far more technically
impressive experience with ATS. And, man, does it impress! The locations you can
explore look amazing, from the sunny
beaches of California to the tumbleweed-laden
deserts of Nevada. Each area feels unique
and even beautiful. I’m a big fan of attention
to details in simulations and I don’t mean just
including famous landmarks. I mean the little stuff, like
run-down shopping centers, signs for divorce court
and cheeseburgers, and speed traps laid by highway
patrolmen with nothing better to do. As an American myself,
I think they did a great job of nailing down the
feeling of driving here, down to the idiots who don’t know
how to use the fast lane on the highway and the bizarrely high number
of self-storage businesses. The weighty believable physics simulation
and driving model are back in action as well, making great use of everything
from a keyboard to a gamepad to a top-of-the-line force
feedback steering wheel setup. Quite simply, it’s everything I expected
from SCS Software at this point and their penchant for
making simulations that are higher quality than you might
expect compared to similar sims. It’s the perfect thing to
sit back with a cold drink, blast your favorite album
or listen to a podcast, and play the virtual tourist as
you wander around the country delivering truckloads of
concrete and fireworks. Relaxation, catharsis and even inspiring
a sense of awe from time to time — *that’s* what makes things like ATS great. So… why am i disappointed with it? It’s a combination of minimal changes made and a lack of overall content. ATS uses… a slightly enhanced
version of the engine used in ETS 2, although at first glance,
it’s hard to tell any difference. You’ve got the same menus, the same UI,
the same sound effects, the same controls, it even has the same graphical
issues like notable edge aliasing, no support for DirectX 11 or higher, and notable frame rate
issues in a few areas. The biggest change arrives in the form of new
locations to explore and new trucks to purchase. And by that, I mean
two states and two trucks, California and Nevada, and the Kenworth T680
and Peterbilt 579. That’s it. Just two trucks and two states, whereas the previous game launched
with around a dozen of each. Granted, these two states are larger
than many of the countries in ETS 2, but it’s still a bit of a letdown
for me in terms of variety. Now, for the time being,
this is kind of understandable since there’s some licensing trouble
going on with truck manufacturers. So while they have a few more models
of truck ready to add to the game, that can’t happen until this is cleared up. Still, why can’t they just drop these trucks
into the game under false company names, like they did with ETS 2
when *it* launched? I mean, the rest of ATS is already chock full of
imitations on everything from the traffic vehicles to the Hollywood sign itself becoming a
“World of Trucks” sign due to trademarks. But yeah, licensing doesn’t explain
the lack of states to explore. There are around 30 metropolitan
areas of various size to check out, which is less than half of what
Euro Truck Simulator 2 had on launch and I find this bizarre. Yes, I know that they’re adding
more via free DLC in the future, but I’m still not satisfied with
the state of things on launch. This is kind of what I expect from an
early access title, not a full 1.0 game. And I’m talking strictly in terms
of amount of content on offer because the quality of
said content is top-notch. That said, the asking price sits
at just $20 for the base game, which is very fair, assuming they
continue adding significant chunks onto it in the future for free. It’s still a weird situation, though, because I find
myself hesitating to fully recommend it on launch, even though I want to. There’s very little change from ETS 2. So if you were burnt out on that game, I’m not sure if a relatively small new map
and two new trucks are gonna be enough. Then again, if you haven’t played that one, there’s a good chance that you’ll
find American Truck Simulator a ton of fun. In my case, though, I’m still so
hungry for more that it’s bothering me, and I would have much rather waited a
few months for a more complete game. But if I elect to ignore that and give SCS
Software some leeway to add some more stuff, then I’d absolutely recommend this one. Even if it feels like a preview right now, the
taste of things to come is still scrumptious, and I can’t wait to dive into more
as it arrives on my plate. [blues riff] Wow, that was a lot of food terminology. I need to stop watching
reruns of Kitchen Nightmares. Well, anyway, thanks to SCS Software for
sending me a copy of this for me to review. I do look forward to more of it,
I just — ha — wish there was more now. Hopefully, modders will come
along and save the day, if not. If you’d like to see some more
of my thoughts on things, you can click at some of these
videos here in the annotations or just subscribe to be notified for more in the future,
which is every Monday and Friday here on LGR. And as always,
thank you very much for watching.