Truck racing is a pretty big deal in Europe and in particular France and Germany where publisher Big Ben Interactive is planning their assault. In this game, drivers race souped-up 5-ton trucks with massive horsepower under the hood. The trucks seem to be somewhat more exciting than typical race cars in that it provides a narrower track and rampant tailgating that lends itself more of a tighter challenge towards the finish line.
Since the trucks, all perform fairly equally and none of them reach Formula One speeds, there’s less emphasis on the boring mechanical details of racecars and more focus on the actual race. Likewise, the 45 trucks and 14 race circuits have very few turns and plenty of straightaways giving drivers plenty of opportunities for overtaking and skidding out. Still, for racing experts looking for simulation features, the trucks can be tweaked with new tire sets, handling, and water-cooled brakes. While I am no truck expert, the new braking system needs to be carefully watched while racing because when they get too hot, the trucks tend to spin out quite easily, making the journey to the winner’s podium that much more difficult.
Another factor to consider in any race, be it in time trials, single race, or championship is the weather. I can attest to the fact that European weather stinks, but FIA European Truck Racing oftentimes takes this to the extreme. Nearly all the races were either in very wet or gloomy weather, which naturally made controlling these behemoths more difficult. Avoiding over steering was one of the biggest control issues on all tracks even on the straights. On the highest difficulty with all the realistic options turned on, you need precise control and almost a perfect feel with the wheel in order to avoid spinning when hitting corners and accelerating out. A force feedback wheel is a definite choice for this type of game, especially when you are in the middle of a pack of trucks that are all jockeying for position.
The AI’s opponent is generally alright, but can oftentimes borderline on stupid depending on the situation. In one instance, a truck that was ahead of the pack unexpectedly spun out and blocked the narrow track. Instead of the AI trucks slowing down or going around, they all bunched up behind it in an attempt to push it to the side. From a top-down view, the line of trucks looked like a giant caterpillar slithering in the dirt.
While the truck racing concept might seem a little quirky for the American market, the racing is generally more exciting than Nascar’s ovals. FIA European Truck Racing Championship isn’t great, but it’s vastly playable and entertaining especially for those looking for something a little different. If the developers can polish the AI and gameplay a bit more, then they will have a product that the U.S. market, and more importantly, U.S. gamers will embrace.
– Trucks have a good feel and weight to them.
– A nice variety of trucks to race and tracks to race on
– Up to date FIA rules and regulations
– Good graphics
– AI needs some work
– Occasional crashes and freezes
– Repetitive commentary
A nice change from traditional racing games which most gamers will find appealing. The questionable AI may turn off even the most die-hard racers, however.