I worked as a labourer for the summer when I was 18. The rest of my fellow builders affectionately called me “The Idiot”, which might give you an insight into my digging, mixing cement and overall construction skills. So I was very pleased to get the chance to prove all the naysayers wrong and show how I’m actually a king of the building trade in Construction Simulator. But can I build a skyscraper in an afternoon without breaking a sweat or will I, like previously, just lay one wonky brick in 8 hours?
Construction Simulator 2 US – Console Edition (to give its full name) is set in a fictional little town in the deserts of America. You start the game by picking a character from a set of happy looking pre-loaded avatars – for the record, I went for Bob, a grey-haired twinkled eyed man – then straight away you’re thrust into construction school. Now you might expect a rigorous training regime, looking at how the construction industry works, delving into man management, geology, and vehicle design. But no, you would be sadly wrong my friend. Instead you get to learn how to get in a big truck, go forward, and move around a track, before reverse parking it. Well done, you’re off to set up your construction empire, without any qualifications, any idea, or any knowledge into how the whole thing works. But hey, you’ve got some good old American spirit to hand. My trainer and mentor even told me after training how bored he is instructing idiots like me and he wants something different. I then hire him as my number two. Now, let’s take on this crazy world.
To be fair to Construction Simulator 2, the lessons will continue to guide you all the way through the campaign and you can keep coming back to the centre for each new vehicle tutorial. But from there on out you really are much on your own, left in a town, with a bank, a vehicle hire centre and a place to buy all your raw materials – soil, concrete etc. What you do with those is up to you but you’ll get job contracts arriving, and these are very varied. They might range from delivering some concrete to a construction site – which, as you can guess, is fairly simple – to more complex building jobs, like constructing an entire building.
In the first mission I took in I had to dig a hole in the ground with my JCB digger while placing the dirt to the side of the hole. This took me a week to complete as at first I just couldn’t work out the control system and it took a long while to get used to it. There is a helpful idiots-guide system to walk you through though, so you won’t need to despair. Basically put though, you control the arm of the digger with one thumbstick, whilst the other has a bucket scoop at the end. From there on out, it’s a balancing act. Each job has different tasks though, which makes it a bit different from the usual farming sims and wot-not where everything gets a bit samey. The jobs and missions are quite good actually, and strangely they are pretty addictive to play – at least once I was able to dig a hole. It is then where your construction world opens up.
Your main goal is to collect cash from the jobs and eventually buy all the vehicles in the game. The vehicles themselves seem very accurate if you know anything about construction trucks, diggers, and other such things. In my eyes, they look very shiny, but that is about as far as my construction vehicle knowledge goes. You’ll need to earn plenty of cash too, because if you get assigned to do a job and you haven’t got the right equipment, you’ll be in a world of trouble. Thankfully you can rent the needed items until you have enough money to buy your own. But even then earning cash is difficult and driving around the sleepy desert town can be expensive as well. Go through a red light, speeding fine. Go too fast down the freeway, speeding fine. Hit another car, fine. I was racking up the fines aplenty in the first hour as the GTA side of me was let loose. You’ll need to be very careful or you’ll be penniless in no time.
Construction Simulator 2 looks okay too, and it has obviously been upgraded from the mobile version it was originally designed for. There are some lovely views across the desert, the vehicles look like they should and even the characters are fun to interact with, what with their textual storyboards. There are times when people walk around and then suddenly disappear into a ghost-like state, and there is a roundabout out of town where the cars never leave the exits and just go around and around, and whilst that is a bit creepy, the visuals just about do the job. It’s never going to win awards for graphical advancement, but it works for this game.
I’ll be honest and when I first started playing Construction Simulator 2 US – Console Edition I was initially left mocking, as I ran around a strange little town that for some reason just had to have some major building work done. I thought it may just come across as a construction themed version of some of the utterly rubbish airport sims that are available. But I was pleasantly surprised and I have enjoyed the different jobs, got stuck in to the gameplay, and driven a decent range of vehicles on offer. Yes, it’s just a port from a successful mobile game and the controls might work a lot better on a phone, but it does the job intended of it and will appeal to a lot of sim fans. Newcomers to the genre might want to take a chance when it’s gone down a bit in price too.
In fact, my time with Construction Simulator 2 on Xbox One has gone down so well that I believe I’m on my way to redeeming myself from that summer of labouring. I would like to go back to those builders and show them how I’ve developed in the building trade… but fear I might not make it out alive.