Since this game was first announced as coming to console’s I, personally, was excited for it and kept it on my radar up until I could get my hands on it at release. This turned out to be a very long wait; and, although it has little niggles and things that could be improved on, it really ticks a lot of the boxes to make a great simulation game.
The game itself plays well. You get a title like this to fix cars and develop a garage; and this is exactly what is done. At first it seems complex and overbearing; but with the in-depth tutorial (and a bit of getting used to) you will find that you are off to a flying start fixing a great range of vehicles and parts.
The tutorial is brilliant – it goes into a lot of depth to help get you through the basics of the game; socket in hand, the game throws you straight into your first task of repairing a vehicle whilst walking you through the process. Below is a slideshow of different areas of the tutorial so that you get a feel of how informative it actually is.
So, you have gone through the tutorial and are ready to start your adventure solo – it’s not as scary as you think, honest! It’s safe to say that Car Mechanic Simulator ’18 really does well to engross you into the world of a mechanic. I have never attempted to fix a car in my life, but that wasn’t a problem with this title due to the tools readily at your disposal – ranging from OBD Scanners, Electronic Testers, the Test Path, Tread Testers and your own ability to highlight set area’s to examine without tools.
There are multiple ways to play, Normal Mode (with or without tutorial) or Sandbox Mode. Normal mode is your story progression, starting from nothing but your socket in hand and a pile of orders to work through; this is where you find out if you have what it takes to become a successful mechanic. Sandbox Mode offers a different type of experience for players; if you are looking for nothing more than gameplay and fixing cars, without worrying about the financial or progression side of the game then this mode is great. You have unlimited funds, unlimited Skill Points to unlock all perks and can fix cars to your hearts content with no negative consequences niggling at the back of your mind.
It is easy to tell through gameplay that this game was designed for other methods of control i.e. mouse and keyboard or touch screen; although, it has managed to tweak the controls to suit a gamepad quite effectively. The controls take some getting used to, but after a while it all slides neatly into place and familiarisation with the input method doesn’t take too long.
Some tasks are long, tedious and finnicky; but let’s be honest, taking an engine apart is no easy feat to accomplish. As with real life, there is a certain process you must follow; from taking bits off in a certain order to ensuring all the parts are screwed in satisfactorily – and to be fair, there is something quite satisfying about turning a beaten up engine into a newly built shiny machine.
There is a major disappointment within this game, but it is one that can be sidestepped (in a sense). The World Map offers the opportunity to explore an Off-road Track, a Test Track and a Racetrack. These are great places to include, and it is brilliant that the developers thought about this aspect of testing cars out to determine what could be wrong with the vehicle; but, the execution of the driving mechanics and physics is extremely poor.
The driving elements of this game are of a low standard, and should have either been tested vigorously and improved upon, or completely left out of the game. It is mentioned that this could be sidestepped or turn a blind eye to, simply because this game is not pretending to be the next Forza Motorsport or Project Gotham Racing, this is quite simply what the title suggests; a Car Mechanic Simulator game. Unfortunately, as an overview of the game, this feature has to be included and therefore has affected its overall grading in my eyes – but it is certainly not a vital aspect of the game and can be almost ignored (bar a couple of achievements and tests).
The visuals are average for a game of this generation. The graphics don’t make you gasp and say “Wow!”, but they are adequate enough for you to be able to determine which part of the engine is which. The cars aren’t too bad looking and effort has been made to ensure the parts look like they should – even the wear of a part is shown as different stages of rust. When test driving vehicles there is no driver in the car, just an invisible entity making the steering wheel move. The garage is nicely done with fair choice of customisable aspects which can make it feel more of your own.
The cars develop rust the more worn their body work is, similar to that of the parts. With the Paint Shop, feature you are able to decide what colour you want the vehicle to be and it even includes a very limited amount of liveries to choose from too.
There is nothing really that stands out as exceptional or anything to shout about on the visual aspects of this title, but it certainly is not a bad looking game.
Sound-wise, it has all that you would expect; decent array of engine noises to match the power of the engine, the cranking sound of your socket unscrewing nuts and bolts, the distant rumble of the tyre changer separating and balancing tyres, and even the sound of parts being successfully fixed (or broken). The sounds are appropriate and match the style of game. There isn’t much wrong with the sound effects at all with this game.
As with all garages, there is also a radio in the back. Go over to it, select your style of music from the pre-set radio stations and you can whistle as you work. There is a nice selection of music available and although it does not feature the brand-new Top 40, it does give you a good atmosphere to work in.
Achievements & Bugs
OK, so we have covered the game but haven’t really touched on the achievements (or trophies) yet, there is quite a range of them. Some are quick and easy – Visit the Test Track, Fix your First Car, Visit the Car Salon, Buy a Car from Auction; all of which will come from naturally playing the game on Normal Mode.
There are also achievements that can be unlocked in Sandbox Mode which would usually take quite a while to get to in Normal Mode, for example; Skill Related achievements, Purchase 3 Cars from the Same Barn, Purchase all Parking Upgrades, Spend X in the Shop. All these achievements are readily available with unlimited funds and Skill Points to spend.
Then we have achievements which will take many, many hours to earn; and are quite tedious, boring and grindy. There is no need for an achievement for listening to 10,000 songs, yet it is in the list. Unscrewing a silly amount of screws (500k), balancing X amount of tyres – these achievements add unnecessary grinding to a game that could have included lower values to attain; sensible values that you could actually earn through natural gameplay rather than having to purposely aim for them. Another achievement that is quite difficult to earn is to Complete a Lap Under 1 Minute – as mentioned earlier, this title’s driving mechanics are horrible, making this such a chore to complete.
Finally, a few bugs that were experienced included crashing, kicking to dashboard and the occasional visual glitch where the car being test drove on the Off-road Track would sink below the track and fall into a form of void. Undesirable, but not game breaking.
The game gets the main mechanics spot on! It’s a great simulation game that you can sit back and enjoy when you don’t want to be playing an all-out action game, or a something that requires a lot of thought process. At times it can be slow, but nonetheless it is satisfying at the same time. The graphics aren’t overwhelming, but they are good enough to be on par with many other games you may play – especially in the Simulation genre. There are a few bugs that could be ironed out, the achievement list contains unreasonable expectations and the driving mechanics needed to be seriously reconsidered; however, all-in-all it’s an above average game. I have spent many hours playing it and I will no doubt keep returning to the title because I find it genuinely enjoyable!
Overall Scoring: 7.5/10
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for the development of this review. The thoughts, comments and opinions in this review are that of the author; having no affiliation with the teams developing or publishing the title.