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Today thanks to the folks at Astragon Entertainment, I’m probably a lot happier than I should be about taking a look at Bus Simulator. Some time after its realease on PC it has finally made it over to console, and I’m reviewing it here playing on Xbox One
Realistically Bus Simulator is exactly what it says on the box, but there is a little more to it. There are options for more simplistic gameplay, through to the fairly complex of having to board and start your bus using the myriad controls available on the vehicle’s console. As well as this you’ll need to keep hiring new employees, and expanding your routes in order to grow your transport empire.
It’s a really odd one. The visuals are dated, the controls are quite complex and fiddly, and there are too few character models which makes finding fare dodgers quite tricky, but I cannot stop playing it. There’s something about the scheduled grind of the stop to stop action which I just cannot let go of, and it’s drawing me back again and again
Bus Simulator is rated by PEGI at ages 3 and above, and by the ESRB as E for Everybody. There’s no particular content in the game which is troublesome, though the complexity might be a little much for the younger family members. With that all beep beeping nicely all the way to the station, how does it stack up overall?
The Run Down
Visuals – Lacking: The visuals outside your console are a little shaky for sure, and the view from the wing mirrors of your trusty stallion are poor and seem to be missing quite a few frames as they show a jerky trip disappearing behind you. As mentioned earlier, there are a small number of character models, but the limited number here does hamper your abilities to find fare dodgers a little, but I do enjoy the nice trip through the Germanic countryside which brings back some old memories
Audio – Fair: The sound effects are pretty decent in the game, and the music or musak is well crafted. There is inane chatter from the customers which is decent enough in the background and will tickle your ear hairs every now and then, overall it’s nothing to write home about, but doesn’t detract from the gameplay
Narrative – fair: There is some narrative as you grow your company. There’s not a huge deal and of course it’s as far away from story based as you can get, but for a simulator title it’s pretty much what you’d expect. It does get plus points for having very Theme Hospital descriptions when it comes to hiring new employees, something which always makes me chuckle in a sim title
Replay – good: Your gameplay will stay pretty similar of course, but there are different skins, decals and busses to unlock, different areas to travel to and also for some unfathomable reason a multiplayer mode. There is a lot of grind element in here as you might expect, but the soothing monotony of the route keeps pulling me back into its relaxing and officious embrace
Overall the road signs for the Pixel Bandits Verdict are all pointing to Above Average! Don’t get me wrong, I know that objectively I probably shouldn’t like this game. The visuals are off, the audio and story aren’t remarkable, and the whole game is heavily treated with traffic jams, potholes, and busses which seem to be at times trying to run away with themselves. I’m awful at it. I have crashed so often (and on one memorable occasion into a pedestrian) that some weeks even with me and two other employees driving the company still makes minus money. But I also cannot stop playing it