Let's get one thing absolutely clear: German Truck Simulator will not disappoint you. When you pick it up there is absolutely no way you will be mislead by the title. Only a person with half a brain will look at this and think “That's an RPG that is” (that said, you do earn experience and level up). German Truck Simulator is the most ronseal game I've ever played (a reference that may go over the heads of non-UK gamers); It does exactly what it says on the tin, and it does it well.
German Truck Simulator is the actually the 10th trucking game by Czech Republic based company SCS Software, who have over time managed to monopolize the freight hauling and delivery service genre of gaming (which as we all know, is a highly sought after genre), as well as being a spiritual successor to Euro Truck Simulator. Instead of the entirety of Europe to drive over this time, what we get is a smaller area (Germany, would you believe), albeit to a much smaller scale. However the main roads and autobahns are all extremely accurate to road maps of Germany and frankly you won't mind that these are the only roads you can use, I wouldn't drive a laden truck down a narrow country road anyway.
Story wise there isn't one. You are a nameless truck driver (in my case Rapey Jake) who must deliver cargo to the various cities of Germany, every time you make a delivery you earn money and reputation (read: experience) points, before the game instantly throws the next delivery task at you. The pacing is relentless, never allowing you to simply drive around and see what the game has to offer (which isn't much anyway, let me tell you). As you're reputation increases you get job offers from other companies, offering you a higher percentage of the delivery fee as well as newer, faster trucks. In fact the only thing that even closely resembles a plot (and even then we're talking close as in “Jupiter is close to the Sun”) are the somewhat mysterious emails you keep receiving from a somewhat mysterious figure called Hans. The whole game seems to be gearing towards you eventually going freelance and starting up a trucking company of your own, hiring people to do the deliveries for you and taking the cash, but unfortunately I didn't have time to get this far. After 6 hours of play I'm at level 4 with an A class truck and just over €7,000, so there seems to be a lot of play left in this game (albeit shockingly repetitive play).
While obviously nowhere near on par with the AAA titles, graphically German Truck Simulator is pretty nice, especially some of the more scenic locales you find yourself slowly crawling past. In the middle of a clear day with the sunlight reflecting off the Rhine River you will find yourself taking your eyes off the road to look at the effort the designers have gone to here (and normally horrifically crashing into the next van). On that note the weather effects are quite good as well, when you're racing down the autobahn in the middle of the night, headlights on full beam, the rain falling from the sky like a waterfall and splattering all over the windscreen it does build into a convincing picture. The other vehicles are pretty well designed, although they eventually just become palette-swaps of each other after a while, and the interior of your truck changes depending on what you're driving (each one being pretty well modeled too). My only real complaints with the graphics are minor niggles that really should have been fixed before release, you'll get the impression your truck driving avatar has telepathic powers when playing on the in-cab view, since the wheels, indicators and switches all move and activate of their own accord. I know it's petty, but a couple of arms (fat, sweaty, trucker arms at that) wouldn't have gone amiss; And in the third person view there is clearly a driver model in the cabin, would it have been so hard to add parts of that model to the first person view?
But I digress, game mechanics wise German Truck Simulator doesn't push the boundaries of gaming that much. One thing it did end up teaching me was how to drive responsibly thanks in part to the fines and penalties it throws at you for so much as looking the wrong way or swerving slightly into the oncoming traffic lane. As someone who learned to drive on GTA, it came as a shock to find that simple things like running red lights or going slightly over the speed limit incurs €200 - €400 on the spot fines. Keeping an eye on your fuel is important too, as well as your fatigue levels. Stopping at petrol stations allows you to rest and refuel, although you need to consider whether stopping for a quick sleep will leave you with enough time to make your delivery, however driving while tired causes your vision to randomly black out for a few seconds increasing the chances of crashing, which results in a fine and your truck/cargo being damaged.
So, the crunch, is German Truck Simulator a good game? In a word, no. On the one hand it's well put together, there's no bugs to speak of, the whole thing is built well with a gradually increasing difficulty curve, not too slow as to inspire boredom, but not too fast as to cause frustration. The idea of it becoming a business management game later on sounds appealing too, and I intend to keep playing to this point and provide a follow up review on the later aspects. Unfortunately, this isn't a game. As it says on the box (and thus going with my claim that it does exactly what it says on the tin), it's a simulator. It's going to be really hard to convince a non-gamer that German Truck Simulator is an interesting game, in fact many seasoned gamers will still be put off by it, but I'm assuming SCS Software know what there market is. If they were trying to branch out to the more savvy gamer they'd have included a mini game where you get to murder prostitutes or sneak immigrants over the border. I can safely say though, that it fully deserves it's title, German Truck Simulator is the definitive example of a simulation of German trucks.