First and foremost—Welcome, all, to the new RAVSIM project! It is very exciting to be working in the simulator world again, and we hope you share in the excitement of RAVSIM as well.
Scania Truck Driving Simulator
With a lineage dating back to 1997, SCS Software is no stranger to this business having provided scores of simulations including hunting games, a bus driving simulator and, of course, their many truck driving simulators. 18 Wheels of Steel, UK Truck Simulator, and German Truck Simulator are but a few of the games from SCS in the wildly popular genre of big rig trucking simulators. Owing to that popularity, SCS has embarked on the development and (planned) 2012 release of Euro Trucker 2, a release as highly anticipated as any other sim in any other genre, and a game that stands to be the jewel in the SCS Software crown to this point. Game play videos abound go a long way to satisfying the masses until release date but, until we get the thing in our greedy hands, well, we’ll just have to wait!
But if you’re like me…you simply can’t wait and must have some sort of holdover until the big day. Enter Scania Truck Driving Simulator, the latest release from SCS Software and a product that clearly shows how far the fit and finish of this genre of game has evolved over the years. In a slight departure from other games in the series, there is only one truck modeled, the Scania R-series. And what a lovely truck it is…modeled to near perfection, it is a beautiful representation of the real world counterpart, inside and out.
Offered as a free demo download, the price of admission is just right and if you do choose to purchase the game, all you need is to complete the financial transaction, enter the activation code, and off you go—the download contains the entire game. In fact, there are two downloads, one around 500 MB in size and the other around 1 GB in size, the difference between the two is that the larger one comes with a gallery of images and videos of Scania trucks and highlights of previous Young European Truck Driver competitions, otherwise they are identical. Price for purchase is around thirty dollars USD, and, given the current condition of the dollar, a few minutes hunting for returnable bottles should fill your pockets with the cash you need to seal the deal.
With installation complete, the first thing you see is the first thing you see with any other game or simulator–the user interface. Fonts, colors, graphics, backgrounds, web link buttons, and the overall layout of the interface are very pleasing to the eye and an early indication of the pride SCS places on their product. Given the lackluster, drab, and 1980’s era look and feel of other ‘modern day game’ interfaces, it is nice to see a company go that extra mile and put on a good first impression. Of course, a well designed and attractive interface quickly becomes a moot point with a substandard product but, fortunately, that is not the case here as the interface is not the only point of attention with Scania Truck Driving Simulator.
Driving License–In this module, you will learn the finer points of frustration control as you learn to handle a big rig…and an even bigger trailer connected to it. Consisting of several exercises designed to ease you into the critical matter of tractor and trailer control, it is a good idea to start here for the newcomer. Trust me, if you have never attempted to back up a simulated trailer make this your first stop.
Driver Competition–Much like the real world driver competition using Scania trucks, this module strives to put you in the mix.
Dangerous Drives–Now we are getting to the meat and potatoes of the simulator. Be it driving mere inches from a cliffs edge and certain death below to hauling an important load of supplies through a flood stricken city, this module puts to practice your truck driving skills. Easier said than done, you will have to develop a good sense of situational awareness regarding your truck and trailer as the margin for error in some of the challenges is razor thin. In the beginning, you may find yourself more often than not finishing a challenge with ‘zero’ points as merits are deducted for collisions with roadside objects or worse calamities such as going over a cliff with your gear. Since beginning this product overview, SCS have released several updates to the game that have upped the number of driver challenges to twenty at the time of this writing. Once you have completed a challenge, you can watch a replay of your adventure and compare your performance to a global database of other truck sim drivers. Additional challenges in the list become unlocked as you complete earlier ones and the difficulty increases.
Freeform Driving–Similar in nature to the standard truck driving simulator, you pick up loads of your choosing and scoot them to the destination with, hopefully, a minimum of drama. You’ll have to watch out for traffic here, and, if you are like me, pay close attention to that map–I’m the type that gets lost getting the mail. In addition to a beautifully modeled city, the Scania Demo Area is included. This is where, in the real world, Scania demonstrates and displays their lineup of big rigs. Updates to the game have increased the size of the map area providing plenty of virtual real estate, and, no truck sim would be complete without a virtual rainstorm here and there. Wipers work…
Time Reaction Test–This mode is about as straightforward as it gets, initially putting you in just the truck and putting virtual obstructions in your way at various times as you travel down the road at a minimum specified speed. However, as you advance through this mode the complexity increases as the trailer is added and driving conditions become less than ideal.
Gallery and Media
Offered as one of the components of the downloaded game should the user choose, or, later from within the game itself, this is a collection of images and video showcasing the Scania trucks and previous results of the Your European Truck Driver competition. On the hefty side, adds about 500 megabytes to the game download.
Clicking this menu reveals a number of online resources available to the user such as Scania websites and corporate resources as well as links to a number of social media sites
No surprises here, create one, or many, profiles for use in the game.
Game play, Keyboard, Controller, Display, and Audio are the sub-menus found here and allow for the configuration of the game to suit the gamers taste. Graphically, Scania Truck Driving Simulator is quite pleasing to the eye and some of the options the user can set are MLAA (anti-aliasing), High dynamic range (HDR), Depth of Field (DOF), reflection, vegetation, and shadow quality. I was able to crank everything up and\or enable it on a three year old i-920 system with an NVIDIA GTX 460 graphics card and the game looked quite good and ran smoothly.
In the past, there have been some issues with controller setup, that is, strange things have happened when a conventional sim racing wheel is being used for control. Personally, I have had issues with split axis and getting the game to recognize the controller, to name but one. However, this time around, SCS have outdone themselves–not one, not two, but three controllers are now supported in the game! A very welcome fact and one that may have come from listening to their gaming audience. I chose to use my Fanatec CSR wheel and keyboard for control and the only issue I ran into was that I had to go into the keyboard setup section and then select my paddle shifters during the up shift and downshift mapping period. Hats Off and well done to SCS on the controller account.
Click on this option to see the folks behind the creation of this truck driving simulator.
Playing the Game
Looking back on my first experience with an SCS truck driving simulator, it is easily apparent that not only is the genre a popular one, it is also one that SCS takes quite seriously. From graphics to substantial improvements in the driving physics, each new release from SCS clearly indicates a desire to learn from the past.
From navigating deadly roads to comparing your driving prowess to a global online leader board, there is a surprising amount of depth here, and more than enough to whet the appetite of those waiting, anxiously, for the release of Euro Trucker 2. There was the occasional odd event, for example, I found that upon initially entering any driving situation, the force feedback was on the light side. A short time later it would feel as if the force feedback kicked in and the steering, while not impossible, did require a noticeable-but not unrealistic-amount of increased effort.
One area that Scania may fall short for some is replayability. For the most part, the Dangerous Drives are the heart of the game and once they are individually completed, there is little reason to reattempt them other than to improve your standings on the world stage or for your own sense of accomplishment. The free-form driving mode is similar to past games in the series, that is, pick up a load, haul it to the destination and then pick up another but the area is not as vast and you do not have to concern yourself with sleeping, eating, or time constraints, for example. For the diehard trucking simulator fan this is probably a good one for the collection but with the imminent release of Euro Truck Simulator 2 on the horizon, those who crave a more real world simulation of the trucking business may wish to wait.