It’s obvious that gamers love the idea of being a truck driver. That has been shown in the popularity of the genre, excelling with the Euro Truck Sim games and the MudRunner and Snowrunner franchise. Perhaps it’s the open road and trucker life that they just need to experience.
SOEDESCO have allowed such opportunity with the previous Truck Driver and its DLC taking you across Northern Europe, adding bits of story to the actual driving itself. With Truck Driver: The American Dream, that narrative goes deeper, becoming more of a story-based adventure game rather than the sim route. Does it work? Let’s hit the road.
Truck Driver: The American Dream starts with you being put straight into the action, hitting the road in 1987. The story is set in America, with tornados and things exploding on a stormy night. A truck driver and his buddy are travelling fast, trying to get to a shelter in time. A deep tragedy strikes and it’s now 2015 and you are playing the role of Nathan; a man in his early thirties, married and trying for kids. He is looking for a steady career and so begins to follow that of his late father as an American Truck Driver.
What happens then – story-wise – is that you play as a truck driver delivering goods to places, staying over in stop-offs with a friend of your dad who is mentoring you. The game has loads of narrative, focusing on dialogue with him, your wife, and your mum. There are musings on life, the world and relationships. Honestly, I didn’t mind the story so much but after a while I did question what I was doing. It’s nice to see characters come and go, but sometimes the dialogue can feel a bit phoney and forced. But I liked what the developers were trying to achieve here.
In regards to gameplay, I was a bit more confused. Much like the last game, driving a truck in Truck Driver: The American Dream is fairly simple; certainly not a complicated sim experience. You accelerate and brake like you would do normally, but away from that the controls don’t feel particularly intuitive, sometimes a bit flakey in responsiveness.
Get used to it though and you’ll start getting your trailer attached for your job and off you go into the wild to deliver your goods. Just be sure to keep an eye on your fuel and your tiredness, as you’ll need to spend time stopping and resting.
There is also a garage, where you can go to get your truck fixed and buy new trucks with your cash and experience points which also can be used in a skill tree. All good, yes? Well, not so much because it’s a hard slog out there. Boredom hits fast as you follow the sat nav for your route, unable to really take any shortcuts. Worst of all is the traffic which doesn’t work in normal ways. They slow down for no reason or they suddenly sideswipe, causing damage. Then there are the sort of bugs that these games are famed for; cars appearing to be stuck in the road or popping in suddenly. You can get fined for going through traffic lights too, but take out three cars in a crash and everything is alright.
The visuals found in Truck Driver: The American Dream are fine with some nice touches like weather effects and some good landscapes. But never does this feel like a current gen game, struggling in terms of animations for cars, people, and other things. In fact, in one camera view from outside the truck, there was so much smoke coming from the vehicle that it made it hard to see. The sound effects are minimal too, whilst there are radio stations to listen to and some full voice work helping tell the story.
If you’re a truck driving sim fan, you should have some fun with Truck Driver: The American Dream. But for everyone else? It’ll probably be a big struggle. The story adventure styling is good, a nice addition in fact. But the mechanics could do with some polish. For me though, it’s the price tag that is the big surprise. Truck Driver: The American Dream comes in at £50, which feels crazy high; it should really be sitting around the mid £20 mark.
What’s sure is that Truck Driver: The American Dream needs a few patches to get up to speed. This American dream is far from being fully realised.