If there is a job out there that seems remotely interesting, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be a simulator to match it. Be it house repair, construction, driving a truck, or even being a goat, every job seems to have its own simulator. On Xbox One though, these aren’t quite so frequent, and unless you’re looking for some fishing, train driving or being a part of the Blue Angels Aerobatic Flight team, there are not a ton of options to choose from. Now though that’s changing as one of the best simulation series in recent years to grace the PC is finally arriving on Xbox One too. Welcome Car Mechanic Simulator!
So it’s not hard to figure out what this one’s all about thanks to yet another creative game title, but if you’re sat there with a dazed look and very little knowledge on the inner workings of the internal combustion engine, haven’t a clue where to find the water pump, and have never picked up a spanner in your life, fear not, this is a game that will be just as accessible to you as it is to the biggest of petrol heads out there.
To kick things off, players have a few options to choose from. You can play the game in Normal mode, Normal but without Tutorial, Sandbox mode, or Expert mode. For me, as someone who’s knowledge of the inner workings of a mechanical vehicle are highly limited, the Normal mode was perfectly adequate. After completing the introductory tutorial that showed the basic controls and what each of the contraptions in my garage could do, guiding me through a basic oil change on one vehicle, and a more in-depth engine build on another, I was set to start off on my career as a car mechanic.
Once you’re in the main game, reality sets in. You’re not one of those multi-millionaire car mechanics that you see on MTV customising the finest rides out there. You’re a local businessman or businesswoman, and your task is to spend time to take in various cars for repair that pop up as orders on your phone, fixing them, and sending them back good as new to the happy owner. Do this enough and you’ll be able to save up enough cash to not only upgrade your garage to a luxurious workspace but also find yourself with enough change to head to the local auction to buy up some intriguing barn finds… all before restoring them to their former glory to sell for profit.
Your starting garage isn’t quite as fancy as the one in the tutorial, but then with basic jobs to start you off such as oil changes, putting on some new rims and changing the brake pads, you don’t need anything all too fancy. With each job you complete however, you’ll slowly see things start to progress and with the money you earn and XP gained, you’ll soon begin to level up, and earn skill points to spend on the skill tree. This will allow you to upgrade available tools, shorten the time it takes to do certain actions and, more importantly, increase the size and quality of your garage.
To fix any given car, players must first move the car to the area of the garage they want to fix it, then it’s down to identifying the issue at hand. Sometimes this is done for you as a customer sends their car in with a list of problems, but at others you will need to figure it out for yourself. Once you’ve found it, you’ll need to strip off the broken parts and install some nice shiny new ones.
Doing this is simple enough, even if you don’t know how cars work, and the only thing you’ll really need to have knowledge of are the parts you’re taking off, as you’ll then need to order new ones through the in-garage computer. For those with poor memory, you can always nip back to the car and look over the known issues to ensure you’re ordering the right parts, as guessing and ordering the wrong ones will do nothing but harm, ensuring you lose a chunk of the profits due to buying the incorrect parts. A pen and paper can come in handy should you not want to do the whole back and forth to the car thing each time.
What proves most surprising with Car Mechanic Simulator on Xbox One is just how simple and accessible the developers have made the gameplay, whilst still retaining a very high level of realism throughout. From parts to problems, and overall visuals to fine details, there is very little that doesn’t look and feel as realistic as you would expect from working or even standing within a real car mechanic’s workshop. Yet even to someone with little to no actual knowledge of car mechanics, the whole thing is really quite manageable. This not only makes the game more enjoyable but also creates a learning experience on its own which will surely be appreciated by many.
Naturally Normal mode does indeed become slightly more challenging as you progress, but equally you’ll also find things a little easier as you expand and unlock new tools and equipment. If you’re looking for a standard difficulty experience regardless of knowledge, this is by far the best way to play. Of course, those wanting a little more challenge are catered for too, and on Expert mode you’ll rarely find such helpful hints highlighted and instead will be required to use every last ounce of knowledge and the tools at your disposal to find out what that noise is emanating from the car’s engine.
What makes things more interesting however is that Car Mechanic Simulator doesn’t simply see you chasing around customers’ orders and swapping part for part for the foreseeable future. Whilst that is a big part of the game’s campaign as such, and will be all you’re open to at first, once you’ve completed many of the set orders that come your way – alongside the randomly generated jobs – you’ll start to see some crates drop. These don’t come with a price tag – there’s no typical loot crates here – and instead these will drop either high end parts or an exciting new barn find.
Barn finds are great and are a brilliant way of ensuring the game is set apart from being your typical simulator experience. See, should you get a barn find, you’ll have the opportunity afforded to buy one of the rare vintage cars that can give a huge profit should you spend the time buying new parts and fixing it up. This works exceptionally well later on when you have more than one slot to fix cars within your garage, as you can have one to house your barn find and the other for new and incoming jobs.
Car Mechanic Simulator packs a bunch of locations that can bring even more exciting activities to engage in. Testing a car for example is a possibility and is something you’ll have to do by getting behind the wheel and physically driving it. Unfortunately though, the driving mechanics aren’t the best and do feel a little clunky. The Junkyard is also a place you’ll want to visit on a regular basis as here you can get hands on with some scrapped vehicles to repair as well as gather a ton of parts in all sorts of conditions for a decent price.
Another interesting point is that despite having a constant flow of jobs available, it’s rare that you’ll find yourself doing the same thing too frequently. There are thousands of parts and components and 48 different cars to get involved in, so it’s highly likely that you’ll have at least something different to do with each job.
With such enjoyment and engagement to be had, I could sit here all day and talk about the pros of Car Mechanic Simulator and why it should be seen as a near-on essential purchase for Xbox One owners. However, there is one downside that does grate a little – the incredibly loud and unnecessary soundtrack that booms out during play. From the main menu to my first job all I wanted to do was turn it down. Fortunately that is an option and something you’ll want to do. It would be nice to have less of an attack on the senses the moment you step foot in the workshop.
Overall though and whilst the audio could do with a little work, it’s fair to say that this is a game that will go down a treat with the majority of gamers. Whether you’re looking for a learning experience or are simply a petrol head with a love for cars – or maybe a bit of both – Car Mechanic Simulator is a great game. With some lovely visuals, in-depth gameplay, and accessibility for all ages and skill levels, this is without a doubt an incredible look into the life of a car mechanic and the exact simulation experience that’s been missing on Xbox One. Sadly, unlike the PC version, the Xbox counterpart doesn’t include mod access, which would have really opened things up, but this is still a perfectly enjoyable game without needing anything more.