Review: Bus Simulator
After many years on the PC, Bus Simulator finally adds its routes onto the Xbox One and PS4 tomorrow, and thanks to publisher astragon Entertainment I’ve been playing it for 5 days now….and thankfully only knocked down 1 pedestrian…so far!
Bus Simulator is a game that you don’t know that you want to play until you actually play it. Why would anyone want to drive a bus when there are a multitude of games out there where you can get behind a virtual wheel and drive at insane speeds, or in futuristic worlds, or even in vehicles that can transform themselves into multiple variations of themselves?
What joy could there be from driving a bus around a route, adhering to traffic signals, keeping to a timetable, giving out tickets and the correct change to passengers, plus other tasks associated with running a bus company?
Well as it turns out, a hell of a lot actually.
There is far more to Bus Simulator than just pretending to be Stan Butler (an ‘On the Buses’ reference there for readers of a similar age), as you drive around a map that is full of bus stops that are waiting to be added to your routes as your experience builds up and the map expands.
Beginning with just 1 bus and yourself as your only driver, you follow some set business objectives to earn more money, buy new buses, add more drivers, and expand your routes. You can also just ignore the objectives and make your own routes and drive around the map whichever way you want.
However, it is through following a series of set targets that new areas of the map are unlocked, as well as the ability to earn more money and buy different buses.
The ability to change certain gameplay parameters makes Bus Simulator a game that you can make fit to however you feel on a particular day. Do you want to drive at day or night (or other times between sunrise and sunset)? Do you want it dry or raining? Do you want to change the frequency passengers block the bus doors, or listen to loud music, or leave valuables on the bus? You can even select if you want to use the ticket machine and select the correct tickets and hand out the correct change.
For what you may well think could be a very shallow game in terms of its depth, gameplay options and playability, Bus Simulator keeps you very busy indeed and gives you more and more to keep track of as the game progresses.
Buying new buses for your different routes not only means keeping an eye on their initial cost, as well as their seating capacity, but then also opens up a slew of different customisation options that truly makes your bus company unique to yourself.
Bus stops and drivers advance in their statistics the more that they are used, and through thoughtful route planning and staff management, your company income can increase dramatically thanks to taking the time to work out ideal routes with the best drivers.
Driving the routes is far from repetitive too…especially if you make the volume of traffic heavier. Pot holes to be avoided, pedestrians to watch out for, road signals to adhere too…all that and much more makes every time you drive a route very different indeed.
Keeping a close eye on your staff, buses, routes and finances is essential to building up an empire that National Express (a UK bus company reference) would be jealous of, and the joy of one of your fellow company bus drivers flashing their lights to you as you pass on a certain route, is a gaming moment that you won’t forget…I’m sure I raised my hand and waved at them more than once!
The ability to play as you want goes even further with ‘sandbox mode’, where you can play with whatever rules/regulations you want without having to worry about affecting any of your stats in campaign mode. This made for a great session where I pretended to be in the movie ‘Speed’ and I drove around for as long as I could without dropping below 50. Yes…I refuse to grow old.
Bus Simulator may well be a game that people think they don’t want to play, but after immersing myself in it over the last few days, then I implore you to think again. It’s a relaxing game to put your feet up and play, and also has the depths to keep you coming back again and again to immerse yourself in its world.
I look forward to trying the multiplayer when the game is released tomorrow and I can drive with friends.
All together now…”I’m gonna get you Butler!”
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